3 Minute Monday
I want to make a case for why you should use the most precise language you can.
And why you should always be expanding your vocabulary.
You see, the things you think don’t take form until you say them out loud.
They’re a notion while they’re in your head.
This big cloudy nebulous formless thing which you force into a concrete shape when you make it into words.
If you don’t have the words to describe something, you use imprecise language to get your sentiment across, which actually dilutes down the thought you had.
The thing you say isn’t quite what you thought, it’s just the closest proxy you could find.
And this means that the quality of your thoughts depends upon the capacity of your language.
If you’ve read George Orwell’s most famous work 1984 you will be familiar with this.
The government progressively removes more and more words from the language until there are no words left which are able to criticise the terrible regime they’re enacting.
The old words slowly pass out of memory.
Over time the only language available is that which is aligned with complimenting the government.
Without the words to describe what they’re thinking. the population is unable to voice any criticisms.
Which in a very real sense is the same as being unable to think any criticisms.
So as we work at becoming all we can be, connecting as deeply as we can with those around us, and making ourselves, and the world, a better place, it’s apparent that our grasp of language is a crucial part of this.
If your intention is a spear, then your language is the tip which delivers the blow.
This doesn’t mean that you need to be a bookworm.
Some of the most precise speakers I know aren’t readers, or intellectuals.
It also doesn’t mean that you need to use long or elaborate words.
The goal here is precision, not extravagance.
You should aim to say the thing you are thinking as accurately as possible, nothing else.
It also has an implication for how you listen too.
Many times you’ll hear someone speaking words but not actually getting across a point.
Or they’ll say something which you don’t understand.
Asking them to clarify is an amazing strategy for developing both of you.
Simply asking “what do you mean by that?” or “can you explain that in another way?” is a great tactic.
Your friend is forced to assess the words they’re using and why it doesn’t make sense and you are actively engaged in understanding what they’re talking about.
You learn, they refine.
Over time everyone becomes more effective.
So yeah, language is important.
The quality of your thoughts depends on the quality of your language.
And the quality of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.
So try to use the most accurate, most precise language you can.
Consider your words, don’t say more or less than is needed and you’ll find your life & relationships improve pretty quickly.
This week’s upcoming episodes:
Mohamedou Ould Slahi – “the most tortured man in Guantanamo Bay” and the subject of Benedict Cumberbatch’s new film The Mauritanian gives a spine-tingling story of his life. Brutal, emotional, incredible.
Michio Kaku – one of the world’s most famous physicists breaks down time, space, black holes and his search for a single, unified theory of everything, The God Equation.
Alex Epstein – the moral case for why we should be using more fossil fuels as a civilisation, not less. A fascinating, rational counterargument to the orthodoxy.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
Sleep deprivation is bad.
In the United States, 85% of excessive force cases within policing occur within 24 hours of a significant shift change.
That’s someone going from dayshift to nightshift or the reverse.
I’d be fascinated to find out what Derek Chauvin’s shift pattern leading up to the George Floyd incident was.
Sympathy is investment advice.
The emotion of sympathy exists to direct our attention toward those in most need.
The greater the need, the more sympathy we feel.
The people who are in the most need will be maximally appreciative of even a small gesture.
This gives us the maximum reciprocity and gratitude for the smallest outlay.
Sympathy is investment advice.
(h/t Steve Stewart-Williams)
You can be tortured by your own bladder.
On today’s episode, Mohamedou Ould Slahi “the most tortured man in Guantanamo Bay” explains how he was kept awake for 70 days of enhanced interrogation.
“Water ingestion torture” is a thing.
His captors force fed him a litre of water every 2 hours.
Which meant he constantly had to go to the bathroom so he couldn’t sleep.
Apparently research had shown that this form of sleep deprivation is even more effective than loud music and bright lights.
Because it makes your own body the architect of your misery.
Mohamedou said that even now, nearly 20 years later, if something triggers his PTSD then his body constantly needs to go to the bathroom, even if he doesn’t.
Start singing Happy Birthday one octave lower.
A tip from my speech coach Myles.
Most people start singing Happy Birthday higher than they should.
Then when it gets to the octave change 3/4’s of the way through the song, they’ve got no vocal headroom above them.
Start singing lower than you think you need to and then NAIL TF out of that high note.
Then turn around and scream ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED.
Then push the child’s face into the cake and tell the rest of the children to come get some if they think they’re hard enough.
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