The Arrogance of Joy

Positive words lead to positive mindsets.


I was listening to an interview on NPR recently with a former White House staffer. I, sadly, don’t even remember his name. But he taught me a valuable lesson:

People who answer questions in a foreign language are more positive (and succinct) than when they answer in their native language.

“How was your day?” asks the camarero (waiter) as he serves the evening meal.

“Good, thank you,” you say in reply.

But if an American asks you the same question, you are more likely to reply with something like:

“I can’t complain.”

“Pretty good overall.”

“Not bad.”

You qualify the quality of your day, because to have a “good” day seems almost mythical or perhaps arrogant.

What if you just kept it at “good,” as you would when answering in a foreign language?

The reason you are more succinct and more positive while speaking in a foreign language is simple: you know fewer words. You also are less familiar with the complexities of the language.

The Playlist of Life

I am under the influence.

Of some powerful tunes, that is. Right now, I am writing this from approximately 33,000 feet somewhere over the Rockies. The airplane is obnoxiously loud. But I have my music. So I am good.

I can’t write without music. I’ve tried.

There is something about different types of music that unleashes my creativity and intelligence. From Baroque music to Gregorian chant to country, techno, rock, and folk..all of it is good stuff. My playlist is eclectic to say the least.

The local NPR station in Fort Wayne has a show called Under the Influence, on which guests share the five songs that have influenced them the most.

I thought it would be fun to do so myself here.

My top five most meaningful and impactful songs:

5. Round Here by Counting Crows

It is hard for me to believe that this classic is nearly twenty years old. I feel kind of old now.

Continue Reading and Comment