The Most Important Word in the English Language?

What do you think Is the most important word in the English language?

Do you think it’s “love“? How about “yes“? You could also make a good case for “thanks” or, certainly, “God.” Maybe even “I am” (or we could say “I’m” if we want to play by the single-word rule).

But my vote goes to a simple, less dramatic word:


Because no matter what you do–or don’t do–in your life, it all starts with a decision.

  • You have to decide to say yes (or no)–to opportunities, to life, to yourself.
  • You have to decide to follow your passion (or not).
  • You have to decide to listen to (or ignore) your inner wisdom.

And even when things happen to you that are beyond your control–for instance, if you’re struck by Cupid’s arrow of love, filled with gratitude, or touched by a moment of involuntary grace–you still decide how to respond: You can share your love, express your gratitude, or respond to the higher calling–or you can ignore your feelings and do nothing.

It’s always your decision!

And every moment of your life presents a decision–sometimes big, sometimes small. Every moment presents you with a fork in the road–or at least a decision to keep going, stop, or turn around and head in a different direction.

And your life represents the sum total of all of the decisions you make. Or, as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it:

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

Isn’t this wonderful? Isn’t it so empowering? It means that you’re not at the mercy of fate or genetic chance or societal programming. It means you get to decide who you are!

But this also means that you can’t pass the buck!

If you’re unhappy with your life, you can’t blame someone else.

  • You can’t say, “My boyfriend made me quit my job”–because it was you who decided to take his suggestion (and stay with someone so domineering).
  • You can’t say, “I’m stuck”–because you can always decide to shift your perspective, head in a different direction, and make different choices.
  • And you can’t pretend that you don’t have a choice–because you always do!

You just have to choose to choose.

P.S. True, crazy story about this post: While I was writing this, my wife, Jodi, came and asked me if I could look at a guest post she had just written for another site. It was called, “The Power of Choice.” Neither one of us had any idea of what the other was writing. (Cue “Twilight Zone” music.) Either it’s something in our house’s water, or we’re definitely on the same wavelength.

P.P.S. And, speaking of my awesome wife, her ecourse, Coming Back to Life, starts in less than two weeks (on October 1). If you’re looking for a supportive community of like-minded people, helping one another in our journey of “coming back to life”–this might be the perfect course at the perfect time for you!

The course includes weekly activities, a private Facebook group, weekly chats, and soulful contributions (videos, written pieces, and more) from Kris Carlson (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series), Jen Louden (The Woman’s Comfort Book), Lori Deschene (, and dozens of others (including me). Click here to learn more about the course and to see if it’s right for you (or anyone else you know).

 (photo copyright: 123RF Stock Photos)

8 thoughts on “The Most Important Word in the English Language?

  1. Love this post. It’s so true! It usually boils down to a decision. I’ve made some changes in my life recently (eating differently etc.) and it’s so much easier this time around because it was just a decision. Not will power or motivation…I just decided. It’s not about “can’t” or “hard”, it’s about making a decision. It’s subtle but it’s a shift for sure.

    • Hi, Kel! Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I love that you’re experiencing the power (and, in some ways, the ease) of decisions. You’re right that it can be a more helpful approach than trying to “muscle through” difficulties through sheer will power or motivation. I’m also in the middle of making some dietary changes, so I’ll keep this perspective in mind, too! Stay in touch and let me know where your decisions lead you. 🙂

  2. Boy Dan, this one was right on. I guessed love first…but “decide” really nails it. We can decide to do, or not do anything. It puts the power back in my hands—and the blame, where it all belongs.

    Having a choice is a huge responsibility and the decisions we make can either imprison us or set us free.

    You got me thinking Dan Teck. That’s a good thing;)

    • Yes, definitely true about decisions empowering us and blame disempowering us. I was inspired by Marci Shimoff’s summary of the 3 disempowering acts: blaming, shaming, and complaining, which are all ways of shirking responsibility. I still do all 3, but hopefully I catch myself & turn it around sooner than I used to–or at least get to decide consciously (and hopefully laugh at myself–compassionately, of course–while I’m doing it).

      Thank you for reaching out, especially with everything going on in your life. I’m so glad that you know that we’re all here for one another–to support, inspire, or just BE together.

      Sending love and healing vibes…

  3. Dan,
    It’s wonderful to read your blogs…so insightful and down to earth.
    Also, glad you and Jodi continue to be on the same wave length….TOO COOL!!!!

    • Yay! Glad you are enjoying reading these. And yes, should be no surprise about me & Jodi, but it’s still pretty cool when stuff like this happens.

      Sorry it’s taken a bit longer than usual to get back–as you know, these past couple of weeks have been among the busier times of my life–but I always appreciate the comments, encouragement, and love…which I always return immediately (even if the written form sometimes has a bit of a time-delay).

      Awesome to “see” you here on the page! Lots of love! 🙂

  4. Very powerful word indeed, Dan! There’s nothing more crippling or that which drains more energy than sitting on the fence. So, I completely agree with you that whether it’s “yes” or “no” we need to make a decision. Also, a related Wayne Dyer quote to your post is, “You are not stuck where you are unless you decide to be.” All the great philosophers and spiritual teachers are in agreement on this. Oh, and I’m not surprised at all that you and your lovely wife should happen to be on the same blogging wavelength – great minds and great souls think alike, plus it isn’t like your souls are connected or anything! 🙂

    • Hi! Thanks again for reaching out with your kindness and encouragement. (Sorry I’m a bit slow in responding–as you know, the last few weeks have been rather full.) But I ALWAYS appreciate hearing your take on these topics.

      I like the Dyer quote you shared–yes, even if you feel “stuck” you’re deciding to be. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you don’t listen to the band Rush, but they have a similar line: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” (So yes, all the great philosophers and spiritual teachers do seem to be in agreement on this!)

      I suppose that sometimes a good choice is to mull things over, not rush into a snap decision, even “sit on the fence” for awhile–and we can choose to do this too, when it feels appropriate. But, yes, eventually, deciding on a course of action is probably healthy (if not inevitable).

      I suppose the main thing is that–regardless of the choice–we claim the power that comes with making a decision, taking responsibility, choosing our own course of action (or inaction!).

      Great to see you here. Hope you’re having a wonderful week! 🙂

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