The 10 Most Common Words You Should Stop Using Now

Is this what your thinking looks like? [Thanks for the Japanese vending machine, Woesinger!]

Words are thoughts.

The better we choose our words, the more we hone our thinking machine, and just like software, it’s a case of GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Thinking hard is pointless if we don’t use the right tools.

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.

Trim the fat and cultivate your thinking with more creative and expressive word choice. As Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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237 Replies to “The 10 Most Common Words You Should Stop Using Now”

  1. What one word do I wish people would stop using right now?

    Well, I can only think of, like, one word that, like, causes me to, like, explode when, like, everyone repeats it like ten times in, like, a single sentence. It’s like they can’t bother like even thinking of like, the right word.

    BTW,”like” is, like, closely followed by “‘ya know” and “whatever”.

    1. Only in the U.S.A (and perhaps Canada?), because I don’t hear native English speakers from the UK or Australia, nor non-native speakers of English elsewhere in the world use “like” in the wrong way.

    2. Like the list should consist of that one word only times like 10.000-ish in like all this different context to just like fill some brainless and empty like space between brainnnnncells…

  2. I definitely knew that some of these words are to be removed from my vocabulary. My personal coach is having me work on on removing them. I didn’t even think about happiness and success though. They are rather vague, and I think if you really do want to keep them, you should sit down and completely define what it means to you.

  3. I like this. I’d like to propose a word to use in place of most of these: integrity (which brings it’s own baggage, but is thought provoking)

    For me it’s difficult to use “integrity” in the way I communicate, but I use the above words all the time ;-(

    Thanks for the brain exercise.

  4. Tim,

    Along these lines, a great book to read is “Words that Work” from Frank Luntz. It’s quite political but the message is the same.


  5. I disagree about “moral.” At many times morals/morality can and should be used if you can define what they mean to you because once they are defined, they are shorthand for the long explanation.

  6. The 10 Most Common Words You “Must” Stop Using Now

    “Should” is the easiest one to pick on. “Must” is a much better word. Or “should” I say “must” is right? Use “must” and you will be more succesful, and happinness will follow. It is almost spiritual, actually! Responsible people use “must” because it’s realistic.

    Sorry for the weak humour above. Tim, you “must” add the word “truly” to your list. Not only is it cliche, it also has the effect of causing most of us to question one’s integrity when it is used!

  7. I’ve read your book, I like it. Walking down the path as well.

    So your argument is that those world simplify things? Isn’t that the whole premise of life. The one thing that is the absolute truth is that you are dead or alive. (I’m not going to bring religion into this).

    1. Happiness – This is what you want.

    2. Success – This is what you want.

    3. Should – I agree – shoulds are Regrets. I’m slowly removing all my regrets.

    4. Responsible – Sure if you don’t give a shit about anything, you can have no responsibility – but we are thinking and emotional people. You are responsible for yourself and what you believe in.

    5. Realistic – Realistic is accepting what you can change and what you can’t change.

    6. Reasonable – same as above.

    7. Spiritual – This is good, if you don’t fight, live, for something, you are just a machine. I know in the end, it doesn’t matter, but when you live – you live for something, even if it’s just that moment.

    8. Good/Right – I don’t like absolutes besides death/life. Everyone defines what’s good or right for themselves.

    9. Bad/Wrong – Same as above.

    10. Moral – W/O Morals or Principles – you are just straight up biological dna fighting for replication. Everyone should define what they want and live for. Otherwise your just genetic programming.

    I have a personal question for you though? Are you a silver spooner? I know you went to princeton and I’ve read your book and I agree w/ a lot your thoughts. How did you pay for school? Loans? Grants? Parents? Did you ever grow up feeling poor? Did you ever grow up feeling like you had nothing? Did you ever grow up like you had to be an adult and sacrifice for your family? I know you did not do everything from nothing – because no one does.

    In the end you have to give up everything to have everything.


    Hi Thomas!

    Thanks for the thought-provoking response and adding to the dialogue. I have to run to lunch (roasted pork sandwich with swiss cheese, for those interested in my “free” day diet) but to answer your question: I am not a “silver spooner” at all. My parents never made more than 50K per year combined, and a lot of people, several grants/scholarships, and personal work helped pay for school.

    I realize some of these words can have religious connotations, and my suggestion to remove them will therefore seem anti-religious. It isn’t. It’s a recommendation to examine your thinking and — if you choose to use words that are defined by a particular religion — realize that you’re using a word defined in dozens of different ways depending on the creed. Rather than label something “immoral”, for example, talk about the sin you’re referring to and explain yourself. Such words can be very dangerous when used without clear intent.

    Thanks again for your ideas!

    Pura vida,


    1. Thomas, you missed the point so badly it’s interesting. I would have thought that most of Tim’s readership would understand where he’s coming from just after the 2 first items in the list, but clearly you dont share the same type of experiences. What Tim is getting at is NOT that you should be unsuccessful, unhappy, or neglect your responsibilities. What he’s getting at by saying you shouldn’t use those words is that you shouldn’t frame your thoughts or ethos to revolve around them. For instance, defining your life’s worth in terms of “success” is a very clear path towards self loathing unless you are able to become bill gates. Defining your life’s worth in terms of happiness, when you don’t have it, can do the same. These types of thoughts can have you obsessing towards a goal that isn’t even really there because it can’t be defined…. A movable goal, ever receding, that never seems to budge and then you live your life feeling like a loser because you aren’t bill gates, even though most people would kill to have your income level and quality of life.

      1. I like this response, and I hope to add to it with this. I like language that is more accessible. So my take on this article and explanation is this. Aiming at, rewarding, and doing other activities with a very vague definition of success can lead to vague or unfulfilling feelings over time.

        It’s not for everyone. But if you have persistent uneasiness, maybe consider trying this. For example, don’t set your goal list to include a successful year, define specific accomplishments that will make you feel successful.

        Don’t aim to be more responsible generically. Define a handful of things that you identify as what a responsible person does and track them.

        Thomas, I hope that’s helpful. It took me some time myself to process this article and the comments were helpful to this process.

  8. Although I see your point Tim, happiness will be a hard one for me to remove from my vocabulary. Good/Right, Bad/Wrong are also going to be tough. My world must be limited. I really enjoy your blog, however removing these words might not be very realistic. 😉

  9. Interesting list, Tim. I’m guessing this is compiled from the viewpoint of personal development (or commercial development even more so), and therefore might severely limit a person categorically avoiding using such words. I see the point and mostly agree on ‘should’, ‘reasonable’ and ‘happiness’ due to their vagueness. The latter two are so hard to codify that they can get you trouble unless you acknowledge the fuzziness. And therefore, instead of avoiding these words – wouldn’t it be better to acknowledge their limitations and use them more cautiously, especially when it comes to goal-setting and personal development?

    That more or less applies to the first seven words on your list, but recommending not using the last three? Sure, absolute moral judgments in the relative world we live in are the source of all trouble and turmoil, but this doesn’t mean they must be avoided. Instead, we must (not ‘should’, mind you) strive to using these words better – not perfectly, perfection being an unattainable absolute, but just better. World isn’t as black and white as to impose the complete avoidance of moral comparisons. Even in areas where we can apply more precision than in ethics – such as personal goal setting or building your business – these are useful terms, as long as you manage your use of them. After all, if you are not sure when you’ve arrived, you just need to keep going, ‘better’ being a much better alternative than ‘good enough’: even if you’re not sure of what moral is and what is right, you should aim in the direction you think most likely to be the best.



  10. Tim, I really like this list, probably because four of the items are ones I also wish people would strike from their vocabulary when they’re in conflict. As a business mediator, I see a great deal of “should,” “right/wrong,” “responsible,” and “good/bad” judgment being flung around. It’s not only black-hole language (meaning it just sucks people in), but it’s a trap because it sidetracks the conversation from what can be accomplished. Here here!

  11. You could throw in ‘stress’ itself as well – it sounds like something that just happens to you, a fact of life, which stops you looking at the source of the problem and what do to about it.

  12. I always thought ‘miscommunication’ is the most over-used word in the office to hide incompetencies. Today, I learn something new. It’s true that thse words give you a ‘feel good’ feeling but don;t really mean much.

  13. Hi Tim,

    Interesting subject, and I could see your point of view till I hit number 7. Numbers 7 through 10 are concepts that are generally understood through religion (take your pick.) I suppose that if a person has not considered the the concepts behind the words, then the words themselves would lose all impact and meaning. However, to those of us who practice a religion, those words not only have meaning but are, to many religions, kind of fundamental.

    I also noticed that the final 4 words are all well tied into the religious concept of conscience – and to take the thought a step further, if you do have a conscience that is bothering you, of course you will feel ‘stress, depression, and conflict.’ The solution to resolving that conflict is not to stop using a particular word but to face the issue that is causing you stress head on.

    As I see it, the result of removing the concept of right or wrong from how we live our lives would eliminate the need for the words morality and spirituality and I’m not so sure I want to live in a world where everyone does what seems right in his/her own eyes.

    Maybe I’m way out in left field on this one, and I’m sure your readers will let me know if I am…


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  15. But, Tim, while they do encourage vagueness, they are dependent on the sentence they’re part of to make them seem so. Although, must admit 3, 5, and 7 I could live without. “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual”…as much as I hate that word, the sentence makes me hate it even more. Just my dos centavos.

  16. Clear language is a powerful concept. Replacing habitual and “positive” language with more precise “positive” language is a very powerful concept. Thanks, Tim. My Tim Time this week was well spent…

  17. Tim, that’s an interesting post, amazing how powerful words can be.

    Or, if vague, they can be very confusing and less useful.

    You have certainly opened up an entirely new world of thinking for me!


  18. I’ve always liked this: Job 38:2

    “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?”

  19. Success and happiness: the progressive realization of a worthy ideal or goal.

    I figure freedom comes in two flavors: doing/having/being what you want and not doing/having/being what you don’t want. Interesting inference from the first flavor: if you don’t really know what you want – if you don’t at least have written goals and preferably also have written plans to achieve those goals – then you’re not free.

    Interesting homework; I came up with definitions that I, at least, like for all of them. I agree that thinking about the meanings of the words you use is productive, to be sure.

  20. I tease ppl all the time for using “should” – “its all emotion and no meaning”. Thanks for another 9 🙂

  21. Instead of trimming of words with vague meanings, why not give meanings to those same words? I’d be willing to bet that taking the time to give meaning to the 10 words above will help give (a little more) meaning to a person’s life – help define and clarify it.

    Just because a word’s meaning may be different for you and me doesn’t mean you should stop using it. It just means our conversation should be improved so as to remove ambiguity when using potentially vague terms.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

  22. “All of them are overused to the point of being meaningless.”

    I think you’re right, Tim. In the middle of reading the list I did in fact pretend blow my brains out with a finger gun.

  23. I remember in grade 4 elementary school

    we had to write an ENTIRE PARAGRAPH summary of a book the class read without using the word NICE. There was a mutiny (led by me)! I confronted the teacher and said, “We all agree that this is an impossible assignment! How could you possibly summarize ‘Charlotte’s Web’ without saying that either the boy or farmer or spider was really NICE?”

    Sounds ridiculous now, but of 28 9-year-olds, there was only 2 who completed the task. Martin, the kid who had his own personal 3-hole-punch in his packsack, and some book called a thoroarasus, and Keeder “the cheater”, who probably just copied from Martin.

    So if I was still 9, I’d say “Fine Tim, I guess you just don’t want me to be happy, successful, responsible or realistic anymore!”

    But I’ve matured now, so I’ll be blissful, victorious, accountable and pragmatic.

    plus I’ve got this:

    ~Victory Darwin

    1. Your grade 4 experience reminds me of my own 4th grade teacher, who told us there’s “no such word as ‘got.” She meant we could always use a better word. To this day I use “received” or “caught” or whatever is most specific. But at the time, it blew our 4th-grade minds.

  24. Hi There,

    Victory, that is a fantastic story! I love it!

    Paul, brilliant catch. I was wondering when someone would point out that I used “should” in the headline. LOL… well done! It’s important to have fun with the small “stuff” 😉

    Have a brilliant weekend, all,


    1. Interesting….as it that should be on the list. Watch the movie Mr. Fantastic if you haven’t already as I’m sure you’d love it. After watching that movie I check myself any time I say interesting…it’s lazy…trust me, you’ll think so too after seeing the movie

  25. Tim,

    I’d add “Try” to the list.

    Anytime I hear that or I am about to say it –

    I know that action is not going to happen.


  26. Choosing Happiness

    “ Ilchi Lee that any people feel that they can only be happy and peaceful when they are given the right circumstances and conditions. However, we can be at peace and be content in this moment now, at this place now. This is our choice. There is nothing that is blocking this choice. Only our thoughts are obscuring this choice. Why can’t we be content and happy without conditions? Enlightenment is a choice that continues from instant to instant, from moment to moment.â€? – SRV

  27. Right up there with ‘like’ and ‘you know’, I’d throw in the word BASICALLY.

    Have you ever heard someone give a presentation or try to sound like they know what they’re talking about and ‘basically’ appears five times per sentence?

    “Well basically what the market here is doing is taking the basic inflow from this sector and then it’s basically outputting like so. Basically.”

    It’s a useless word that can almost always be removed from the sentence and the sentence won’t lose any meaning.

  28. Interesting discussion! Tim, would you follow up this post with a “how to” change your vocabulary post? I’m up for the task but I’m not sure how to proceed. I am a bit addicted to my current vocab style and see the value in your proposal.

    Thanks for keeping me intrigued in how you live life so fully!

  29. >>In light of your comments, perhaps an edit of the headline is in order?

    Luckily, “irony” was not on the list, Paul. 🙂

  30. So, I should remove the word “should” from my vocabulary?

    The 10 Most Common Words You Should Stop Using Now

    “3. Should”


  31. Tim,

    Have you ever read “Manual of Style” by Strunk and White? Timeless classic that stresses concise writing with no waste.

  32. We better be specific than vague – in our language, our goal-setting and therefore our actions, right? After all, we can’t get too far by merely promising ourselves happiness without defining what make us happy.

  33. Tim, I’ve got no problem eliminating the ten words on your list. But “thing” and “stuff”, I’m holding onto those.

  34. Someone posted “Perhaps replace “shouldâ€? with “need to.â€????

    Replacing the colloquial “Need to” with — [nothing] or maybe “please,…” if speaking to someone, eliminates this aggressive confrontation.

    “You need to move over.”

    “No, I don’t have that need at all.” LOL

  35. Thanks for the reply. Yeh, I was raised catholic, but I don’t believe in dogma and ritual.

    Spirituality is what you makes you get a sh*t-eating grin when you are doing something you truly enjoy.

    Good times – pura vida indeed. Me gusta viajar, y estoy pensando que viver a sudamerica or centroamerica.


  36. I knew they were not going to be easy words but I did not know they were going to be so difficult.

  37. I wish people would stop using the word “like” if they aren’t actually describing something.

    Drives me nuts!

  38. Hi,

    If you don’t like the word ‘moral’, then the antonym ‘immoral’ simply reduces to ‘crime’or so. But surely we aren’t thinking on such narrower terms, right? Human mind is conditioned to respect human values to beginwith but changes happen due to hundred other factors. What hurts someone would hurt me as well. We need to grow beyond poor interpretations of religions. Do not try to jump from the above floor just because you hate walking down the stairs.

  39. Hi Tim,

    FYI – still no word about the Jack Canfield “Blog Bonus” interview.

    I sent in the receipt on Thursday and followed up with Amy – but haven’t heard anything yet.

    It sounds great, and I’m anxious to hear it. 🙂



  40. Here’s a list of no-no I believe need eliminated: Can’t, Try, Just (as in I’m “just” a _______–you fill in the blank), Have To (yes, I KNOW that’s really a phrase!)And I suggest a few replacements: “can’t” may become either “I choose to,” “I choose NOT to,” or “can,”; try and just add nothing, and are gone. “Have to” may also be either of the choose dichotomy, or, to put a postive spin on obigations, “I GET to…”

  41. The one word that needs to be added to your list is “Try”. The every popular “I’ll try to” or “But I’m trying” (said with a whine). This word is not only stressful to the person saying it but also to those listening. And, it gets you nowhere in terms of forward process. You either “Do” or “Not Do”…as I believe Yoda said best.

  42. Very interesting, definitely worth a thought.

    Tim I just finished reading your book and I have to say it was very hard to get through one of the parts at the end. I was able to digest all your Argentina and Buenos Aires boasting throughout the book, despite my disagreement, but when it was coupled with Brazil and Rio de Janeiro bashing it really got to me.

    It was hard to remind myself not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and take in your suggestions even though your opinions about South America pissed me off. Very unfortunate.

    I liked the book nonetheless. I’ll keep it in my bookshelf for reference. I’m just having second thoughts about recommending it to others who may not be as understanding as I am…


    Hi Daniela!

    I appreciate the honesty. I actually love Brazil (my love affair with Argentina and Panama is obvious) and recently came back from Florianolopis. I’ve been to Sao Paolo and Rio a few times and dig both. BUT, both can be very, very dangerous. I don’t think that’s being alarmist. In Rio, a female friend was robbed on the same day that two other tourists I knew were assaulted at gun point. A week later, feuding drug lords gas bombed a bus full of innocent civilians. While I might not mind seeing machine guns and gangs on the streets, many people have a lower risk tolerance than I do, so I felt it prudent to be open about the environment. It’s also important to note, if you are Brazilian, that tourists are often more conspicuous and sought out as targets for petty crimes. Many Brazilians don’t experience this and thus underestimate how frequent it can be. It doesn’t make it a bad country at all. Brazil rocks. But the awareness is important.

    Muito obrigado for the comment and all the best,


  43. You forgot the most important (or most useless) adjective: nice. Never, ever are we supposed to use the word ‘nice.’ It is so over used that it has lost all meaning – and anybody who has had a half decent teacher in primary school would be told so;)

  44. One should be realistic about acheiving spiritual happiness. Reasonable success is not good or bad, right or wrong but what the moral responsibility allows !!

  45. Try removing any conjugation of the verb, “to be.”

    The human mind really isn’t designed to understand what something is.

  46. Interesting that the first two words are ‘happiness’ and ‘success’ – words that I use precisely *because* their meanings are so hazy. They’re like carte blanche words. An invitation to talk about ‘happiness’ or ‘success’ leads softly to all sorts of things that we really want to talk about. That’s my experience anyway.

    ‘Should’ – definitely. I dropped that word from my vocabulary when my first child was born. ‘Could’ is more useful.

    Don’t think I use any of the others much if at all.

    Okay. Random neural firings. I’m off to buy your book.

    Bob Collier

    The Parental Intelligence Newsletter

  47. Everyone in business please refrain from using:

    buzz, buzz-worthy, buzzable

    trendy, viral, cool


    bandwidth (used to describe a person’s time)

    innovative, innovation


    -Just my pet peeves. These are used so much no one really knows what they mean anymore.

  48. I am halfway through the book and salivate at the notion of living an alternate lifestlye. My problem… I work as a pharmacist in a hospital so my tasks different from an office-based position. I am just not able to apply the principles in this book to my current position. Help!

  49. Three words/phrases: obnoxious, self-important, vacant. Good luck Tim with your spiritual quest for a soul.

  50. Might it be better if we used the words properly and definitively instead of abolishing them? For instance: responsibility. Used as response-ability, it is a powerful reminder of how to live.

  51. You Know What I Mean

    People use this at the end of their sentences and it is a sign of impatience. They want your response and agreement NOW.

    It is often used as one word: “youknowwhatImean” and often used by those who over use the word ” like”

  52. My number one lingual peeve is the word “just”. As in “Oh I was JUST asking” or “I was JUST saying”.

    I prefer to own up to my motivation instead of hiding it behind yet another overused dismissive and / or self-deprecating expression. May the world follow my lead.


  53. I personally work very diligently at keeping two words out of my vocabulary: “Hope” and “Try”. These are over-used and can be like a crutch – “I sure hope I get that raise”, you might say to yourself. Then when you don’t you say, “Well, I tried.”

    Change your thinking and your actions by saying it this way: “I am sure going to work on getting a raise.” Then do not “try” but buckle down and DO.

  54. “Why does the word ‘reality’ always have such a sinister, gray, fatalistic ring? It is the realists – that is to say, the death-eaters – who are responsible. But the men [and yes, the women] who are thoroughly wide awake and completely alive are in reality, and for these, reality has always been close to ecstasy.” — Henry Miller

  55. I have become an avid believer in the power of words I use and thank you in your book and interviews for making this more aware for all of us.

    I have replaced “have to”, “should”, “can’t” and “try” with “choose to” or “I will”. The first give your power away or an easy out. The later you take personal ownership.

    I have also found myself using the word “you or we” when I really mean “me”, as a way to mentally deflect the meaning and not take ownership of it.

    Such as “A common thing we experience when doing something new is…” In fact when I first typed this, the first sentence said “the words we use” and then I caught myself!

  56. I recently started a “success” blog. I consider myself a very smart person, but now I have a new perspective on things after reading the 10 words. Success and happiness are part of my everyday vocabulary, but now that I think about it, they are vague, boring and they do not describe what I feel or really want.

    Today I am going to stop using success and happiness. I am going to define my success and happiness!!!!!

    Thank you so much!

  57. Tim,

    What would other word might you use for “spiritual?”

    Your list really jump started my thinking.




    Hi Joel,

    I would use philosophical or meditative, unless we’re talking about deity worship. If one believes in a god, I would consider them religious, even if unaffiliated with a major brand-name group.

    Hope that helps!


    1. That is a broad statement, that anyone that believes in God or Spirit is religious. Feels like you are in judgement, Tim, of those that believe in God or Spirit. Philosophy is not interchangeable with spiritual nor is meditation. I live “in spirit” and do not worship deities. This is really irresponsible and quite frankly dismissive. I have heard your discomfort with “spiritual talk” in your podcast but never felt you were judging others for it, I guess it goes beyond discomfort.

  58. One of the words which I wish we’d stop using is passionate. Not because passion isn’t a good thing, in fact, it’s rather great. But describing our jobs and why we love our jobs or “why we do you feel we should hire you?”…”well because I’m “passionate” about *fill in job choice here*.” Ahhhh…passion is not about a job choice.

  59. I agree with Yanik Silver’s suggested addition to the list – the word ‘try’.

    I hear people use it so often. It’s so lame! You just know when someone tells you that they will try to do something that they are not committed to doing it and 9 times out of 10 they won’t do it.

    Best wishes


  60. Tim, I know what you mean and you’ve inspired me to add one of my own: Leadership.

    At my Alma Mater, Mount Holyoke, this word is plastered on all official publications. No one seems to agree on what the heck it means. I think the Mount Holyoke dictionary definition is something like: “of or pertaining to better than Smith.”

  61. “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?�

    Tim, I know what you mean and you’ve inspired me to add one of my own: Leadership.

  62. The word “should” applies both to the present and future tense, as well as “should have” which usually refers to regrets or “hindsight is always 20/20” type pronouncements.

    I’d add the word “afraid” to the list. A fear and/or lack based view on life is so limiting and can be destructive.

    Rather than “banning” the words on your list, I think it’s really more important for people to first be aware of when they use them. Then begin to understand when and why they say them so they can transform thinking to something more positive.

  63. I’ve replaced “happiness” with “contentment”. I may or may not feel happy

    at a given time, but I am generally content. By content, I mean that I have

    no desperate needs (emotional, physical or fiscal) that are not addressed,

    and I am generally comfortable in the world.

    Please note that contentment is not antithetical to growth and achievement.

    It just means that I don’t hate where I am now.

  64. The word that I’d love to remove from the English language is ‘can’t’. I loathe hearing my kids use that word. It’s always followed by a cop-out of some sort.

  65. I completely disagree with the removal of the word “Success” from one’s vocabulary. I work in aerospace and astronautics. If I was to explain everything at the level of detail necessary to identify individual success or if I was listening to someone explain the engineering or astrophysics reasons behind the success or failure of a project I’d waste my time and theirs. Success IS shorthand, but shorthand is valuable. Period.

    We built an executive dashboard that analyzes metrics down to traffic lights (Red, Yellow, Green). That quick definition of “success” absolutely follows the thinking in the Four Hour Workweek.

    My guess is that you don’t work with physicists and don’t understand the value of vague thinking in management of mathematics PhDs from the Ukraine. If I didn’t have the dashboard, regardless of “vague thinking” I’d be here at 10pm each night. Is that your goal Tim Ferriss?


    Hi DCer!

    No, that’s not my goal, of course. My goal was/is to get people thinking, and I really like your take on a context where “success” can be used. I’m a huge fan of using “interesting” and “stuff” in foreign languages in the early stages. There is a time and a place for some of these — I just don’t want them to be universal crutches, which is what they can become.



  66. No prob Tim. I just saw the list, and I use a lot of them to communicate general “sympatico” or “copacetic” feelings to Chinese engineers and Russian mathematicians. One issue I have with books that help people through work goals is that very often they look at capitalism as a game of sales. I work for a contractor that works in responding to proposals. There’s a lot of money and pride in aircraft and rockets, let me tell you, but it’s not like selling vitamins, it’s not really like selling at all, except in the most abstract way. So sometimes I think that the authors can use a good “jolting” into the world where I might bid on a $200 million contract that needs 30 engineers, 10 mathematicians, 20 IT folks and the like and winning the contract (selling) is merely the first part of a 10 year process.

    I think you’ve got a great book on the right track and you’ve reanalyzed what people want for a new generation in ways that Tony Robbins did for the 1980s or Andrew Carnegie did for the 30s/40s. More power too you. And I plan to bounce ideas around here to “keep you honest,” so don’t take it personal.

  67. While I agree that by removing those words from our vocabulary we can expand our “borders”, I don’t think it’s doable. While I could erase them if I lived only among people who would do the same, I don’t think that this would work if everyone else around me would use those words.

    Anyway, it’s worth a try. Good brain exercise!

  68. Excellent point Tim! Great-Brain exercise, as many have said.

    Yanik, you’re the Man! Nice add-on. You certainly have room to speak on that subject.

    Paula G stole my thunder with the Yoda quote (kudos girl!)

    I believe Alex reffered to the it on the vitual book tour with you Tim. Seems to be a common theme.


  69. How about adding “problem”, “no problem” and “not a problem” to the list.

    It drives me crazy when I thank someone for doing something and they respond that way. What happened to “your welcome” or “my pleasure”, etc. I didn’t ask if it would be a problem in the first place, so why did “problem” get into the convesation?

    How did these responses become commom place in so many businesses? It is terrible phone etiquette, especially in customer service departments. Ending a conversation where help was required or an issued needed resolution with “no problem” sure leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    The first time I heard “no problem” I was surprised. Now it ruffles my feathers everytime.

  70. I agree with Yanik’s suggestion to eliminate the word ‘try’, although my other mentor Yoda perhaps said it best ‘Do or not do, there is no try’. 🙂

  71. Transformational vocabulary is a life long study of freedom. Freedom to play full out in life without the boundaries of our beliefs that surface through habitually spoken words.

    it is great to ‘catch’ these words that limit us – usually to start with when someone else points out our over-use of them. Then what happens is you get to notice them after they pop out – and finally before they pop out, giving you a chance to transform the word into something else more conscious and with real meaning and intention.

    Thanks for the list of 10 Tim. Plenty to play with here.

    I’m currently fascinated with the frequency that I hear the term ‘real quick’. …Usually said in a statement that is full of unconscious apology and justification – sorry for taking up your time with my presence – or something similar.

  72. Good lord! Didn’t expect to see my random hotel vending machine snap turning up anywhere, but glad to see it’s of use to you, Tim!

  73. Great Book Tim, still reading through it, but finding it is answering a lot of my questions about myself. I think some of your readers are missing your point. Your message is to examine every aspect of your lives, but we seem to get caught up on what you say about religion or a country or lifestyle etc. It is petty! Look at the principles Tim is sharing and taylor them to your own lifestyle. Don’t just throw his message out because he is not a devout religious person like you, or adore your culture etc.

  74. I don’t have time to scroll the lot, but here are my nominees:

    nice – a filler – used when you can’t think of another word or want to avoid saying something negative, i.e., what you really think.

    moving forward – Does anyone really want to move backward? O.K. a few politicians and religious fanatics surely do, but the rest of us don’t.

  75. I haven’t looked through all of the previous comments, so this may have already been addressed. Unfortunately it’s not one word, it’s two. But it’s used in the context of a single word. Here goes. You say “how’s it goin'” to someone, and they respond with “Good, Good”, with both words spoken in an irritating rapid succession. THIS MUST BE STOPPED! It’s some kind of retro yuppie, just out of school, drive a leased beamer, gonna invent another google type mentality that’s driving this. Again, it must be stopped.

  76. Check out Marshall Rosenberg’s book Nonviolent Communication – a Language of Life, if you want to find agreement with Tim’s choice of words that disconnect us from life. Suggestion, instead of using the words on the list, reference an experience you have had and describe it as it comes through your senses. What did you see, hear, touch, smell, that created your emotional response. Leave you evaluation and judgment out of the description. Next, what need or value was meet or not meet that produced the emotional response? And finally take the actions to produce the life you want related to that need? Most important, only do what is fun and brings you joy.

  77. Yes, I agree about “NO PROBLEM” I agree–that’s got to go away from the customer service lines that it’s proliferating on.

    The word “FUN”. Fun has lost it’s meaning.

    Next time you come back from an outing and describe it to someone who was not there, if it was fun, try to say specifically what it was. Examples would be like, “we laughed at…” “we made jokes where…” “we sang ” “we danced” “louie did his game where…” “someone dressed up like a…” “we bonded..” That’s more interesting.

  78. Another word for a future expanded list (let’s not get obsessive about this – let’s act!!) is “SURE” used instead of “You’re Welcome”. I have seen this response made to “Thank you” by many correspondants on news shows lately. Perhaps “sure” is meant to communicate “just doing my job” or “I don’t think your thank you is sincere”?

  79. Alternative words to better describe your thinking is good, but there seems to be a mind-set of trying to link your comments to not acknowledging absolute truth by your audience. The absolute truth argument can in many ways depend on one’s belief system and their experience. There is, however, good and bad, moral and immoral that most human beings who have a heart know exist. Life isn’t always based on one’s feelings. We have to face hard truths that we can be dead wrong, we can act bad, and sometimes do things that hurt innocent people, which is immoral. More and more people in our society feel there is not a right or wrong and there is no absolute truth, which has birthed the present state of our government. The fact that stealing is wrong is absolute truth. The fact that abusing someone physically and/or emotionally is wrong is absolute truth. Murdering someone out of greed and hatred is seriously immoral and horrible. I agree that some of these words should be replaced by something more direct and descriptive, but the audience needs to know that all of us have a conscience and there are said and unsaid rules of living and treating people that are absolute if you have any kind of spirit and heart. If not, then we are not very humane.