- “This year is all about _____.”
- “My power word for the year is _____.”
- “Every day this year will begin and end with ____.”
The inspiring words resonate so strongly with those who have chosen them that a whole year feels like hardly enough time to focus on them.
Words have so much power to inspire motivation and actions for a better life. But the key is choosing the right words that ignite your dreams and remind you of the bigger reasons for your actions.
The Power of Having Words to Live By
When you choose a word or words to live by and remind yourself of them daily — and throughout the day — you see everything in your life as through the lens of those positive units of language.
For example, if your word to live by is courage, you would approach every challenge by responding in a way that’s consistent with courage. Your “courage lens” would help you see options that might not be visible to you if courage didn’t matter as much.
You can also think of it as responding to a situation with the question, “What would [word to live by] do?” — as if that word were a person guiding you at every fork in the road.
15 Phrases and Words to Live By
Any one of the fifteen words and suggested phrases to live by has the power to make you more conscious of its relevance to your unique purpose. And that begs the question:
Do you choose the word, or does it choose you?
1. Gratitude and Appreciation
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.” — Meister Eckhart
Strategy: Cultivate a daily gratitude habit to make this one stick. Writing down a number of things you’re grateful for in a gratitude journal is an effective and empowering way to do this.
Start small, and commit to writing each day. Your mind will probably suggest many more gratitude ideas, but starting with just a few won’t feel so overwhelming as you work to solidify this habit.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” — Plato
Strategy: Take some time each morning to think of a person who has hurt you. Then consider the pain or struggle that might have caused them to do what they did, and remind yourself that — given the same personality and history — you might have done the same.
3. Forgiveness and Letting Go
“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.” — John Green, Looking for Alaska
Or “Lack of forgiveness causes almost all our self-sabotaging behaviors.” — Mark Victor Hansen
Strategy: Spend some time each morning intentionally forgiving someone against whom you still hold a grudge.
Say the words, “I forgive [this person], and I choose to be free of anger and resentment toward him/her. Ultimately, I want [this person] to be happy and fulfilled.”
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at its testing point.” — C.S. Lewis
Strategy: Since courage is often defined as doing what needs to be done in spite of fear, one courage-building strategy is to follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to “Do at least one thing every day that scares you.”
By doing this, you train yourself to dare fear to hold you back. And then you don’t let it.
“Love is our true destiny.” — Thomas Merton
Strategy: Do at least one thing every day that communicates love to another person. This could be writing them a note or calling to check on them. You could also do something the other person wants done. Learning another’s love language can help with this.
“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” — Buddha
Strategy: Look for ways your life is not aligned with your integrity and what you know to be true. Begin a practice of “radical honesty” by minimizing the number of large and small lies you tell yourself and others.
Try to notice when you tell half-truths or little lies throughout the day and begin to change that. Pay attention to how you might sugar-coat information to spare someone’s feelings at the cost of your own. Look for the truth in all things, even when it’s uncomfortable.
“Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different than they are.” — Allan Lokos
Strategy: Start the day with a few deep breaths, reminding yourself to focus on your breathing or on other observations of the present moment.
In all of your daily activities, focus intently on the task at hand and try to savor the moment, even with the most mundane tasks.
Meditating and keeping a mindfulness journal are great ways to build a daily habit of living in the now.
“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” — Cornel West
Strategy: Just as with kindness, the Golden Rule applies here and is backed by every well-known religion.
It shows justice to treat others as equals and to do nothing to them that you wouldn’t want to be done to you.
When you protect (or exonerate) the innocent and actively protest oppression or inequality, you are also practicing justice.
Related: How To Get Out Of Your Head
9. Patience and Trust
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” — Leo Tolstoy
Strategy: It’s not easy to wait for things we want. Patience reveals that our desire for good things is rooted in the truth of who we are, what we need, and what communicates love to us. It’s not mere selfishness or materialism.
Allow yourself to answer the question, “What would I love?” and trust that what you name — or something even better — is on its way to you. That trust is the antidote for impatience.
10. Kindness and Connection
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” — Aesop
Strategy: Being kind is so easy, especially when you endeavor to make it a priority. Strive to do something kind for at least one person every day.
Other than that, treat every person the way you want to be treated. Recognize that your connectedness to them means that what you give to others, you also receive.
11. Persistence and Tenacity
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” — Confucius
Strategy: Other words for this are perseverance and endurance.
No matter what happens to you and no matter how much it hurts, remind yourself you are strong enough to survive it, to keep going, and to heal. Your physical body is not the boss of you; you were made to endure.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” — Neale Donald Walsh
Strategy: Level up your game, focusing on at least one of your fundamental systems for life — whether that’s your love relationship, your physical health, or your spiritual growth and understanding (among others).
Books, audiobooks, podcasts, and courses can help with this. So can finding a mentor or coach with expertise in an area that is either stagnating or regressing.
13. Meaning and Purpose
”The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away.” — Pablo Picasso
Strategy: The more you know about who and what you are, the better you’ll understand your life’s meaning and purpose.
Anything that helps increase your self-knowledge will help such as daily journaling, mentorship, books, courses, internships, volunteer work, travel, etc.
“Each one of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” — Sheryl Sandberg
Strategy: More than just getting back up, this word is about healing and turning the pain of a previous shock or disappointment into strength, creative power, and insight.
If something has hurt you, rather than allowing it to keep you in a mental prison of grief or resentment, use it as a catalyst for growth.
Allow it to refine you and make you even better than before. Bouncing back is just the prelude.
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” — Albert Einstein
And “Peace comes from within; do not seek it without.” — Siddhartha Gautama
Strategy: Peace begins with understanding which can begin as the awareness of our connectedness to all life.
While you can’t force peace on anyone, you can cultivate it within yourself by practicing daily meditation and by developing healthy self-esteem.
Daily practice in gratitude and forgiveness is also essential to the growth that facilitates peace of soul.
Pass it on.
Whatever good words to live by you choose this year, you can’t help but influence others with it. The more you live by it, the greater your positive influence on the people around you.
The better you know and esteem your true self, the better you understand and appreciate others, no matter where they are in their spiritual growth.
If you can forgive yourself, you can also forgive others their mistakes and seek their good just as fervently as you seek to understand them and yourself better.
This makes you a magnet for all those seeking personal growth.
Don’t forget to be as compassionate toward yourself as you would want others to be toward you — or as compassionate as you want to be toward others. You will make mistakes. You will stumble along the way. And you will sometimes find it hard to keep going.
Keep going anyway. You are more than worth it. And so are the people whose lives you’ll touch every time you take another step.
May your magnificence and your passion for growth influence everything you do today.
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