Cut These 20 Words from Your Life and You'll Be Instantly Happier

Cutting these toxic words from your vocabulary will make a huge difference.

Woman at work

The old saying goes, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me." Well, that's not quite true. In fact, words can have a huge effect on you. The language you use can influence your self-esteem, mess with your productivity, and screw with your outlook on life. And in a world where we're all trying to be happier and more productive, who needs that?

"Words cannot change reality, but they can change how people perceive reality," wrote Dr. Jack Schafer for Psychology Today. "They create filters through which people view the world around them."

The phenomenon is recognized by psychologists as the "illusion of truth" effect. That is, if you're exposed to something often enough, it becomes your reality. Because of that, it's important to beware of which words you use. And if you cut these ones from your vocabulary, we guarantee you'll feel happier in no time. And for more amazing ways of boosting your mood, see these 17 Things Happy People Do Every Morning.


don't say these words

When you tell yourself you can't do something, is it really that you can't do it, or that you don't want to or are too scared to try? Whenever you tell yourself that you can't do something, you're immediately denying yourself a chance to see what you might be capable of. And for more on happiness, check out these 50 Facts About Happiness That Will Change How You Think.


boost your confidence

While we all face issues that range from tiny speed bumps to massive hurdles, it helps to reimagine "problems" as challenges to overcome. That way, solving them becomes more of a puzzle and less of an anxiety-inducing dilemma. 


words to stop saying

If you're challenging yourself enough, there are going to be times when you don't meet your own expectations. Still, you can't spend your time dwelling on past circumstances. Instead, think about everything you've learned and how much you've grown. Focusing on that will help you eliminate the word "fail"—as well as all of the negative thoughts that come with it. And for more instant mood boosters, practice these 33 Things That Don't Cost a Thing and Will Make You Happier. 


divorce over 40

Yes, it's true that there are certain unpleasant realities that we all must face in life. But focusing on what's unavoidable is as unhelpful as dwelling on past failures. Making the most of the current moment is much more productive. 


Woman Rolling Eyes on Phone Worst Things to Say to Customer Service

Mornings stink. Bills are dreadful. And Brussel sprouts taste vile. But do you truly hate these things or are they merely factors of life that you dislike? The word "hate" can affect you more than the things that have drawn your ire. Instead, be thankful you get the chance to wake up to a new day, have the money to pay your bills, and have the means to get your fill—whether you happen to enjoy it or not. 



In today's world, there's always something that needs taking care of. But that doesn't mean you can walk through life telling everyone how "busy" you are—it's not a competition. And when you banish this word from your vocabulary, we guarantee your relationships will improve. 


biggest New Years resolution mistakes

If you're the kind of person who focuses on being busy, busy, busy all of the time, then you probably spend a good chunk of your day feeling overwhelmed. But this is another word that won't do you any good. Remove it from your vocabulary and you'll hopefully realize that having a life that's full of experiences, both big and small—both boring and busy—is a great thing.


Woman learning foreign language New Year's Resolutions

"I'm just going to get this over with." "I'm just a beginner." "It's just a draft." You probably already see where this is going. The word "just" limits you before you even get the chance to prove yourself. Let your work speak for itself, and eliminate this unhelpful word from your speech. 


woman on phone

Saying "but" puts a negative spin on whatever it is you want to express. If you find that you're using the word "but" a lot (that's "but," not "butt," you cheeky monkey!), take a minute to think about how you're really feeling about the situation. Then, try and substitute the word "and." It's much more positive! 


words you shouldn't say

Making decisions can be difficult, but being indecisive could very well be a habit that you need to break. Banish the word "maybe" from your vocabulary to both force yourself out of your comfort zone and feel more confident in your choices. 


words you shouldn't say

"I should have gone to the gym." "I should have sent those thank-you notes earlier." Using this word puts you on an instant guilt trip. Instead, use a phrase that is more future-focused, such as "next time." 


things women over 40 need to know

There are rarely things in life that we always do. Other than the basic necessities—things like breathing, eating, and sleeping—most things are optional. So don't lock yourself into any unnecessary feelings of obligation because you find yourself using the word "always." 


woman at computer Never Say to a Teacher

There are very few things you can confidently say you'd never do (unless we're talking about activities that are illegal, evil, or downright nasty). Don't lock yourself into a cage by claiming that you'd never do something. If you change your mind down the road, you might feel some type of regret for not living up to your own unhelpful standard.


40 things give up in 40s

Truth be told, there are some things in life that are actually impossible. We can't go back in time. We can't fly without the help of technology. And we can't make money appear out of thin air. But overusing the word "impossible" for things that are difficult or daunting is definitely not productive.


Putting something off wastes time in a way that can become problematic and habitual—so you might want to stop saying you'll do something "later." Get on it. Now.


depressed woman crying in bed

When you call something "stupid," it's usually prompted by anger or frustration. And calling a person "stupid" is often based on the same thing, as opposed to their actual level of intelligence. Instead of calling names, take a step back to simmer down. And if you're in the habit of calling yourself stupid—either in a serious or self-deprecating way—then you definitely have to stop doing that ASAP. It's not funny and it will only hurt your self-esteem. 


sad woman

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect." He had a point. There are certainly things that happen in our lives that are out of our control, but for the most part, we need to work hard to make our own luck. Stop telling yourself (and others) that you're unlucky. Instead, do what needs to be done to turn your so-called luck around.


couple fighting in a car

If you're truly sorry for something that you've done wrong, then by all means, apologize in whatever way is necessary. But make sure you're not apologizing for every little thing. Accidentally bumping someone's shoulder as you walk past doesn't require a grand apology. 


woman on phone

Think about what you tend to say when someone asks you, "How are you doing?" If you reply with "fine," then you're certainly not alone. But giving in to that flippant response can close you off to more meaningful conversations and connections. Stop using the word "fine" and try being more honest and open with your answer. 



The fact is that when people use the word "literally" they're usually using it in the wrong way. It's not a substitute for the word "seriously," or a way to exaggerate your point, or a way to say something figuratively. "Literally" means that it actually happened in the way that it's being described. The word is so overused that employing it could get you kicked out of a bar in New York… literally. And for more great ways to find a fresh start, see these 23 Things To Let Go of to Be Happy in 2019!

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