How to be Happy: 4 Words to Avoid If You Want a Happier Life

coffee mug with quote "be the most encouraging person you know"

For years in my late twenties and very early thirties I felt stuck.
I had a career that no longer satisfied me,
a broken romantic relationship,
and an unhealthy relationship with food and money.
It seemed I’d inadvertently manifested the very life I’d been desperately trying to avoid.

What happened? I’d spent so much time focusing on what I didn’t want
that I didn’t have time to figure out what I actually wanted.

This realization was both stunning and unacceptable. It sent me on a journey to uncover who I was + what I actually wanted in life.
Once I had a clear vision, I began taking action.
That was more than ten years ago and my life today is completely (and wonderfully!) different.

These days:
The joy I feel about my career is plentiful + abundant.
I’m married to a lovely, inspiring man.
I have a loving, relaxed relationship with my body and with food.
I’m inspired and motivated to learn as much as possible!

Recreating your life can start in tiny ways.
Beginning with how we speak to ourselves. 

Words are powerful.
They can be used to manifest massive growth and positive change, but when we use them unconsciously, they can just as easily aid in creating a life we never wanted.

Eliminate these words to create a happier life:

1. Can’t

“You can’t sell your home + move to Paris!”
“You can’t quit your job!”
“You can’t spend your life coaching or traveling or writing!”
These are the things I was telling myself.

When you hear the word “can’t,” take a step back and affirm, “Yes, I can!”
Then create a list of all the reasons that you not only can but will.
These little shifts can serve as a huge catalyst towards manifesting the happier life you want.
Use words that solidify your dreams, not ones that encourage your fears.

2. Should

With all the reasons I wasn’t taking action in my life, I quickly came up with a laundry list of “should” statements.
“I should be happy in my relationship.”
“I should stay in this high-paying job.”
“I should feel understood by my parents/friends/co-workers.”

“Should” gives us an easy way to avoid looking inward and is often used in
statements that are rooted in fear. Ask yourself why you aren’t taking action in your life.
For every “should” you think of, once you maneuver through any guilt and shame, you’ll find fear.

Respect that fear. It has something to tell you. Lean into it. Mine it for the gem of wisdom.
Now it’s not fear anymore…it’s knowledge + you can begin moving in the direction of your dreams.

3. Maybe

This word indicates a lack of clarity and fear of commitment.
The clearer I became about what I wanted in life, the easier it was to make decisions in alignment with my dreams. I suddenly went from saying “Maybe I’ll go to graduate school”
to “I’m going to graduate school!”
“Maybe I’ll start my own life coaching business” became “I started my own life coaching business!”

Get clear on what you want and really dig deep into your commitment to it.
A happier life is within your reach + control.

4. But

“I would quit my job, but…”
“My girlfriend is great, but…”
“I’d love to write a book, but …”

Just be honest.
If you have no intention of quitting your job, stop saying why you “would if you could.”
The minute you really want something “I would” becomes “I will.”

Being honest is a critical step towards manifesting the life of your dreams.
Figure out what you want and start making clear and succinct statements about it.

Our words shape our deeds and our deeds shape our lives. 

When you change the way you talk to yourself, you begin to change the way you navigate life and the way you make your dreams happen.

Your life can be amazing.
You just need to find the right words to describe it.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash


  1. Hi Danielle,
    I love this post. I never would have thought of cutting out the word ‘maybe’ so thanks for including it. It’s definitely a word I use as a crutch – so now to stop saying it and start to commit to what I want.

  2. Great post! People don’t realize how important our words are and how they can project all areas of our lives and how feel about certain things. For instance, people saying they are bad with money. Are you really “bad” with money or do you have a hard time managing it? Do you need to make more? Things like.

  3. I LOVE this! I feel like so many of us fall into the trap of saying these words without fully realizing the power that it can have over us by saying them all the time. Thanks for giving this outline to help us be more mindful over our choice of words… it’s definitely a process learning to unravel the habits!

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