Published in The News Press on December 25, 2018

By Nancy Next 

Changing how we talk to people isn’t the same as changing who we are. In 2019, let our speech help all people, particularly ourselves, be empowered, confident, loved, and a little bit bigger.

  1. Examine your exchange of pleasantries.

Sure you say, “Good morning!” What happens if someone doesn’t say it back?  

If you get offended, admit you weren’t wishing a good morning to a fellow human.  You were demanding an acknowledgement or expecting someone else to follow your lead and do as they’re told.

In 2019, have pure intent with all your pleasantries. Do you ask, “Anything going on this weekend?” only for the purpose of revealing your own exciting and superior plans?

Do you toss a “How are you?” without listening to a full report? Be prepared before you ask.  “How are you?” can require a 15-minute response. And if someone asks you how you are and you aren’t fine, you don’t have to say, “Fine.” 

“Hanging in there,” will suffice and is always better than a lie. 

2. Commit to surrendering the floor.

Celebrate other people’s positive happenings instead of entering Thunderdome.

When people share the latest news, it isn’t an invitation to compare tidbits.

In 2019, practice holding space for other people, and it’s most important when others reveal painful experiences. 

Instead of interfering in another’s life journey with advice and your own comparable trials, just listen. Shut up and allow others to be heard.

3. Be silent.

In 2019, take a monthly 24-hour speech fast.

Slap a sticker on your shirt that says, “I’m silent today. Thanks for your support.”

Now you can really listen.  The largest serving of the Speech Pie should be ideas. Things, people, and events are merely crumbs. 

During your fast, tally how often you hear “I.” Are people merely taking turns speaking, or are they connecting through their speech?

Do you hear how you want to sound? The goal of a silent day is not to criticize others but to recognize the preoccupations of the mind as Know Thyself tools.

You are what you talk about.

4. Clean your media house.

Check in with the Bhagavad Gita. What we think is nectar could really be poison, and what we think is poison could really be nectar.

In recent years, I abandoned crime dramas riddled with humans at their cruelest, splatter horror movies, and news broadcasts consisting of us vs. them screamfests.

I also deleted my personal Facebook and Twitter.   

These were always harmless downtime diversions until I realized I was becoming inured to violence, coarseness, name-calling, human suffering as spectacle, ostracizing and demonizing others, and arguments that reduce complexities to taking sides.

My world was becoming smaller and meaner. Yes, there are problems, yet our media choices do not have to add to them. In 2019, let’s recognize we don’t have to drown in mud in order to see the world as it is, to work toward solutions, and to promote love.

5. Meditate on Om.

Balance and focus are tough in a world of objects.  Our thoughts are trained to time travel and fixate, while our senses drag us out of ourselves.

The deeper we connect to self, the stronger our connection to all that is.

Mind is the most prolific trash talker.  Mind is the critic, the distractor, the liar, the tempter, and the jester. When Mind kicks into full effect, resist Mind by repeating Om – the ah, oh, oom, the sound beyond sound.

The world of pain and pleasures, of likes and dislikes, will beckon, so let rounds of Om be the reset. When you’re driving, waiting in line, preparing for sleep, jogging, cooking, cleaning, and living, let Om echo, a respite from all agitation.

Let 2019 be the year you Know Thyself.

Nancy Next, formerly Nancy B. Loughlin, a Fort Myers writer and yogi, is the author of the YA book Trash Talk: Words Matter. Visit her website at