I've always been a huge fan of positive language, however, in recent months I've taken this more seriously and restructured my vocabulary whenever I speak or write.
Now when someone asks me how I'm doing my response is “Great!” or “Living the dream!” but I'm learning that positive language is so much more than that. Language has a deeply rooted power over each of us, whether we like it or not. It's our job to harness that power with each word or phrase we use.
I've been reading through The Orthodox Study Bible, and the other day I came to this verse from the sermon on the mount:
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 7:12
No doubt most of you have heard the “golden rule” throughout your childhood, and may not find it incredibly revolutionary. But what you probably don't know is that the phrase “Don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you” was popular among Jews at the time (I learned this from the study notes in the OSB).
Despite the popularity of the negative form of the phrase, Christ chose to make his message clear in positive language. He did this to illustrate how this draws us towards God, but I'm sure He also knew that positive language would have a deeper impact on his followers. We are made in His image, after all.
Positive language affects you and I at our very core. In fact, in at least one study, researchers found that when presented with positive language sentences, in lieu of negative, study participants involuntarily strengthened the force of their grip on a sensor. Nobel-Prize-winning neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles discovered in the 1970s that you can actually measure the difference between our reaction to reading verbs like “go” and “stop” in our neurons.
It's clear that positive language has physical power over each of us, but what does that mean to you?
Question: How does language affect your daily life?
Tip: I'm currently using the one year reading plan for the Orthodox Study Bible. If you want an easy way to break down the Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and New Testament into readable daily chunks, I recommend you check it out.