Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A blog post I like

Timothy Ferriss has a good post on how we use words and how we use them in a unbeneficial ways.

The 10 Most Common Words You Should Stop Using Now

Here is the part I really like:

Think and speak with precision. Less is often more. Here are 10 common words I have observed to cause stress, depression, and conflict due to their vagueness. All of them are overused to the point of being meaningless. The solution? Stop using them and find more descriptive alternatives. I recommend focusing on removing one or two each week, even if just as an exercise.

In no particular order…

1. Happiness
2. Success
3. Should
4. Responsible
5. Realistic
6. Reasonable
7. Spiritual
8. Good/Right
9. Bad/Wrong
10. Moral

Do you love some of these? Most of us do. But… try and define them without using an equally vague synonym or a tautology.

But why do we love them?

Because they remove the heavy lifting of real thinking. These socially-accepted throwaway terms are crutches for unclear thinking, just like “thing”, “stuff”, or “interesting”–enemies of good writers worldwide. But the above 10 are much more dangerous, as they encourage us to compare, judge, or fool ourselves and others.

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