Words are more important than you think. It’s not unusual to hear the casual “I shouldn’t eat that” or “I shouldn’t do this”, and we often give advice in the “You should…” format. While not blatantly negative nor vulgar, the fact that we extensively use “should” in our natural vocabulary has a subtle, but profound effect on our positivity.
“Should” is used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, and is useful in situations where there are clear, preferentially unbiased choices. If you want to become better at sports, you should practice more. If you are sick, you should take medicine to feel better. However, when you inject “should” in other situations, it creates a taxing undertone to positive environments.
Instead, try replacing “should” with “could”. This trick will work in almost any situation.
Rather than shaming yourself mentally when considering that next slice of chocolate cake by saying “I shouldn’t have it”, try “I could have that slice, but I’m trying to eat less dessert this week. So no thank you, I’m good.”
Try substituting “We should do this” during your next business meeting for “We could attempt this approach. It would be great for the objectives we set forth earlier”.
You’ll quickly find that replacing “should” with “could” has the power to transform moments of obligation into moments of possibilities — opportunities to take meaningful steps towards your personal goals.