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I Stopped Saying This Word, and It Changed Everything

Swapping out even a simple word in your vocabulary can shift your mindset and re-center your true priorities.

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This story appears in the September 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

As an editor, I think a lot about language. But as a person living in the world, I often overlook its importance — just as I’m sure you do.

NIgel Parry

That’s a missed opportunity. Language isn’t only the articulation of our thoughts; language helps shape how we think. Linguists have studied this for decades and have endless fascinating examples. Here’s one I love: When you and I give directions, we use common English words — we say “left” or “right,” and “forward” or “back.” These directions are centered on ourselves or other objects; we are often talking about something to the left of us. But an Aboriginal Australian community called the Thaayorre have no words like these. They instead use fixed orientations: north, south, east, west. Arranging furniture, they might tell you to move the couch southeast a little.

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