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5 Ways to Build and Improve Your Vocabulary

5 Ways to Build and Improve Your Vocabulary

Knowing how to harness the power of words for your benefit can make for a much smoother career path – be it in interviews, meetings, emails, presentations, conversations and more. If you can express yourself clearly, you have a huge advantage over most. Having a good vocabulary is crucial for written as well as spoken communication. It benefits you not just professionally but also personally. Working on your vocabulary helps you articulate yourself in a specific and precise manner, and is one of the most underrated skills. In fact, the researcher Johnson O’Connor conducted a study over 20 years, and showed that

“No matter which area he looked at, and no matter how he analyzed the data: a person’s vocabulary level is the best single predictor of occupational success.”

Read on to find out about the five simple practices which will help build and improve your vocabulary.

Improve your Vocabulary by Reading

This is one habit that will boost your vocabulary like nothing else can. Set aside at least thirty minutes of your day for some mindful reading. Read business magazines or online business journals, reading newspapers daily is a must – at least the editorials, and of course, if you enjoy fiction, nothing like it. But remember that it is not enough to just read and know the story, the whole point is to build your word power, so when you come across a word and do not know what it means, be sure to look it up. Keep a pocket dictionary handy or an online dictionary on your bookmarks menu. We would also suggest noting it down on a sticky note and putting it somewhere you can see it every day, until it becomes a part of your vocabulary!

Improve your Vocabulary by Playing

Yes, building a vocabulary can be a rather fun thing to do. Make crosswords and word games an obsession and before you know it, you will have gained fabulous language skills. It can be hard in the beginning, but the key is to keep practicing. Most newspapers have a word games section that you can try. There are several mobile apps you can play in which you can also choose to start from a basic level and move up gradually. Our favourites are Wordament, Words Words Words and Text Twist. You can also check out the FreeRice.com website which donates 10 grains of rice through the World Food program for every answer that you get right in their vocabulary quiz.

Improve your Vocabulary One Word A Day

Yes, one of the secrets to a powerful vocabulary – learn one word at a time, everyday. Subscribe to “word of the day” emails. Don’t just sign up for it, make sure you read the emails every day and don’t end up marking them as spam. While it may take you only a few minutes to read it, the benefits will truly be long-term. You can use this link to sign up for one of these programs – Wordsmith.org or Word Of The Day

Improve your Vocabulary by Listening

You might have noticed by now, the amount of stress we lay on this one point in all our communication related posts. Listening intently and carefully is a great way to improve your vocabulary and communication. If you like the way the speaker is speaking, make a note of what you like. When you listen carefully, you will also come across new words and will learn the context in which to use them. If you write the word down and use it immediately in a sentence, your brain will remember the word better. It is also very important to listen to someone who does not seem to be making a lot of sense while speaking, because that is a lesson on the mistakes you have to avoid yourself.

Improve your Vocabulary by Writing

Even though this may sound tedious, it will take you a long way in improving your vocabulary. Writing helps you form coherent sentences and is a true measure of reflecting how your vocabulary has improved. It need not be tedious, all you need to do is maintain a journal and write as little as half a page a day, even about simple things like how your day was! This habit can be really helpful if you pursue it in a disciplined and persistent manner. We can assure you that two weeks into keeping a journal, you will really start enjoying it! Start today!

Remember that practice makes for perfect. You may follow all of the above advice, however, if you don’t put into use what you learn, it doesn’t matter how hard you have been working. Incorporate into your daily vocabulary the words you have been learning. Express yourself regardless of the anxiety that you may fumble and make mistakes. Make mistakes and then learn from them, and slowly with practice, you will be perfect!

Five Life-Altering Philosophies from Calvin and Hobbes – Happy In The Now

Five Life-Altering Philosophies from Calvin and Hobbes – Happy In The Now

Have you ever experienced how the simplest of things can trigger and unfold a whole world of profoundness, weaving itself into the weft and warp of our lives? Be it a gesture, a remark, or a few words, they sometimes leave behind an impression on our lives that last for ages. One such thing that has gone a long way to rearrange my perspectives on life is the timelessness and wisdom of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.

Calvin’s conversations with Hobbes have become life lessons for thousands around the world, and I am no different. Having read and re-read numerous Calvin and Hobbes comic strips over the years, I realize that through its humour, simplicity and wisdom, it has become one of my guides to understanding life.

Here are five life altering philosophies that are landmarks of my journey with Calvin and Hobbes, and have contributed to making me what I am today:

Philosophy #1: Curiosity does not kill the cat!

Calvin cannot stop thinking about things and happenings around him, and neither can I. It is his musings about life, relationships, school, parenting et al that has made me a reflective person. I cannot comprehend how people stop thinking about things when there is still so much to know! Delving into Calvin’s explanation of phenomena around him has exposed me to a world of humour, perspectives and a different culture of thinking. Needless to say the perils associated with being a thinker cannot be discounted for. But the depth I’ve gained is priceless!

Philosophy #2: The best things are learnt outside of textbooks.

Calvin’s rebellion in Ms. Wormwood’s class has been my biggest source of joy because it resonates with one of my beliefs which I value most: Learning through experience is powerful, life changing and everlasting. Texts books are only meant to clear exams. It is also this belief of mine that got me my job! The constant effort to evolve as a better human being in any role we play is only enhanced by life’s lessons, and not through chapters or pages. Any experience holds in it the magic wand of transformation, and when embraced, it helps us become the architects of our own lives, designing our own big picture.

Philosophy #3: Play saves the day!

No matter what happens, each day in Calvin’s life has an element of play in it. Only then does he consider it worthwhile. When practiced, I found that I could not let go of this habit. And over the years, play for me has taken different forms. Today I like to indulge in a variety of activities like writing, music, cooking, running, painting, or anything that gives me a sense of immense joy and satisfaction at the end of the day. Though the child in me wishes I could graze my knees more often!

Philosophy #4:  Express. Not suppress.

Calvin’s favourite form of expressing how he feels is through snowmen. It seems strangely cathartic, and I love it. Unfortunately I live in a country which doesn’t get snowfall. But learning from Calvin’s bravado, I consistently use various forms of expressing myself. Predominantly it is through blogs or colours. And I have found it to be extremely liberating. This practice has helped me deal with days when “even lucky rocket-ship underpants don’t work”. Brings things into perspective!

Philosophy #5: There is treasure everywhere.

What amazes me constantly by this last Calvin and Hobbes strip is the feeling it leaves the reader with. This very piece is what has inspired and triggered my love for travel. Every time I read this I feel a great sense of wonder and it pushes me to explore all the possibilities that await me. I have come to realize that I’d rather save up to travel and see the world, than trade the experience for ‘things’. The explorer in me thanks Calvin for instilling and reinforcing this outlook.

Though when Bill Watterson ended the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip in 1995, he said he had contributed all that he could, for me the Calvin and Hobbes School of Learning does not end at all. The reason I picked these five today is because I have constantly made an effort to live these and it has changed me. So now I welcome you to dive into the goofy world of Calvin and experience the magic. Pick your favourites and share with us your experiences through Calvin and Hobbes. We would love to relive the magic with you!

This post is dedicated to the genius of Bill Watterson. In eternal gratitude.

This is Nilisha Mohapatra’s (@NilishaM) third guest post for Happy In the Now. Her two previous posts are “ Five Steps that help me be Here and Now – Being Mindful and Happy In The Now” and “Five Life Skills that give wings to your Career”. Nilisha is a Post Graduate in Applied Psychology, and is a content designer and trainer for Transformational Programming and Life Skills development.

P.S : I love Calvin and Hobbes too !

Five Life Skills that can Give Wings to your Career

Five Life Skills that can Give Wings to your Career

“Life skills” are defined as psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. They are loosely grouped into three broad categories of skills: cognitive skills for analyzing and using information, personal skills for developing personal ability and managing oneself, and inter-personal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others. Mastering these life skills will not only make you successful at work and life, but more importantly will make you immeasurably happier too!

Here are the five Golden Life Skills that have made my work and life a fascinating journey:

Life Skill #1: Listening – It’s not just about your auditory senses. That of course is the first step. But what makes a difference is how much of it you absorb. When in your first job, everything is new, everything is exhilarating and everything is exhausting. The learning curve is superbly steep. Listen, Observe and Absorb- the golden rules to internalizing your work. Listen with your entire being, hang on to every word being uttered, and in no time you would have mind mapped your role. But do remember that this is an on-going process to grow!

 “Every person in this life has something to teach me–and as soon as I accept that, I open myself to truly listening.”~Catherine Doucette

 Life Skill #2: Initiative – Go that extra mile to try out things, even if it is something you thought you could never do. Chances are that you will be treading on ambiguity and unknown territories all the time, since it’s your first job. So it would only do truckloads of good to say Yes, more than you say No. Take the plunge! Having taken innumerable head dives myself, I can tell you that the results are immensely gratifying!

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life Skill #3: Relationship Building This is one of the key factors to convert your job into something that you look forward to, instead of viewing it just as work. Building personal connections with colleagues always adds that extra zing to your day and keeps the workspace stress free. And on days that are blue, these relationships help you sail through, keeping your productivity intact. They have the potential to last a life time too!

 “Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.”~Emily Kimbrough

Life Skill #4: Resilience Since we are learning perpetually and alternating between baby steps and giant leaps, we are bound to falter. But, this is the nature of the game. Take a moment, pick yourself up and get going. You’ll only get better. Be it our work or relationships, when we bounce back, it’s always with renewed vigour to prove ourselves and shine. Keep moving.

“The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn.”~Unknown

Life Skill #5: Giving Back– It is said that the more you give, the more you get back. When you give your 100% and more to your work, what you are also doing is expanding your own horizons to grasp more and thus in return adding value to yourself and your organization. This is an iterative process. Since my first job luckily has been in the social sector, I can see the direct results of my work in the smiles of the children I work with. It is a heavenly feeling.

“You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.”~ Unknown

Today’s guest post is by Nilisha Mohapatra.