What’s in a word?

Most people tend to agree that words are powerful. Words have the power to create or destroy; bless or curse. If it’s true that words are so powerful, it makes sense to harness that power in a positive way and use them to illuminate our path and influence our outlook. That’s the idea behind my previous blog post, “Finding Your 2016 Motto in Five Easy Steps”. 

Choosing the right word as your motto or theme for the year can certainly bless you by influencing the direction or your year, but it can actually do more. Choosing a theme that calls us to more or better, not only blesses us, it can bless all those people we come in contact with.

This year my word is “positive”. I’m not going to lie, when the word first started showing up as the word for my motto this year, I ignored it. You see, I consider myself to be a pretty positive person and I think most people that know me would think the same thing. So, why would I need to claim a word I already am? I thought, surely there has to be a better word for me, a word that will challenge me and propel me into an area of growth. Well it didn’t go away, so I decided to go with it.

Using the word, “positive” I finished the final two steps of creating my motto, which included digging deeper into the meaning and application of the word, and creating an acronym. It’s true, I wasn’t so sure about this word at first, but the deeper I dug, the more inspired I became, and I began to realize something; I need this word. Being positive in this current time in history can be challenging even for the most positive person.

It seems everywhere we turn, we are getting more bad news or hearing about some tragedy. We live in a fallen world where negative input abounds. Going through the word of the year exercise has helped me to realize that no matter how positive and optimistic we think we are, we need all the help we can get to maintain this mindset.

Using the acronym I created for the word “positive” let’s take a look at some of the ways we can nurture a positive outlook in our lives.

P for Prayer, this one was easy, as with everything good and worthwhile, it begins with prayer. This is where we begin and end each day, reflecting on how we are living our motto.

O for Optimism – Optimism is that proverbial “half full versus half empty” mentality. It’s a choice we can make in the face of difficulties or those things that don’t go our way.

S for Silver Lining – Looking for the silver lining means we have to believe that one exists. I believe, based on Romans 8:28, that silver linings can be found in our struggles, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to them that love Him.” Believing in the “silver lining” is believing that God can and will work all things together for our ultimate good.

I for insulate – A wise woman once told me “if you swim in muddy water, you’re going to get dirty.” This principle holds true for maintaining a positive attitude. If you hang out with negative people, you are bound to develop a sour outlook. To maintain positivity, do what it takes to stay away from toxic people and circumstances.

T for Transparency – Healthy positivity requires transparency. We cannot be positive or optimistic if we are focused on hiding our true self. A lack of transparency means we are judging ourselves harshly and we don’t want others to see what we don’t like in ourselves. Transparency requires knowing who we are and who we are not, and being ok with both.

I for Intentional – Just like standing in a rushing river requires an intentional focused effort to stay on our feet, so does maintaining a positive outlook. We demonstrate our intentionality when we ask God for guidance, choose to have a half-full mentality, believe in the silver lining, surround ourselves with positive people, and come out of hiding.

V for Virtue – In all things exercise virtue. But, the best opportunity to grow in virtue is when the going is tough. It’s those challenging moments when we are tempted to think and act negatively. It’s also those times that are bursting with opportunities to practice virtue. When sh*t happens, choose virtue.

E for Enthusiasm – As with optimism, enthusiasm requires that we make a choice. We don’t have to rely on a “feeling” to be enthusiastic, but we do need to engage. When we choose to engage enthusiastically we are creating a space for positivity to exist.

In today’s complicated world it could be easy to fall into negative thinking, but as Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In order for us to resist the pattern of negativity in this world, we need to renew our minds, we need to feed ourselves new ways to think and nurture new areas of focus.

As I embrace my word for this year I’ll remember Romans 12:2 and strive to live out the renewal of my mind by pondering this acronym and the words that give life to my motto; Prayer, optimism, silver lining, insulate, transparency, intentional, virtue, and enthusiasm.

So, what’s in a word? Well for me, a well-chosen word is the fuel that keeps me positive.