photo: Lord Jim on flickr

photo: Lord Jim on flickr

What’s your favorite word? Do you have one?

If so, do you say it all the time, like “Dude” or “Awesome“?

Or do you only use it every once and a while? Like, “Gosh, I sure am feeling copacetic today.” Or, “I wish I wasn’t so discombobulated.”

I have so many favorite words, it’s hard to pick just one.

Copacetic will always have a sweet spot in my heart. I’m also a big fan of groovy. Groovy, in my humble opinion, never should have gone out of style.

And then there are words that are so annoying, I like them. Words like unctuous. And ointment.

photo: GanMed 64 on flickr

photo: GanMed 64 on flickr

Our new best friend, Hank the Pool Guy, has a favorite word. He uses it all the time. And, surprisingly, he – and his favorite word – made a big impact on Melissa and me.

Here’s what happened:

Right before Melissa and I went on our honeymoon, our hot tub went on the fritz. I think it was angry we were leaving it behind while we traipsed off to other places with other hot tubs.

How about a nice, big hot-tub bill for your wedding present? How’s that for a fun gift?!

I called a bunch of places, but it was the middle of summer and the spa repair people were extremely busy. I finally had someone return my call, and he told me he could come out the day after we returned from our honeymoon.

Groovy¸ I said. We’ll see you then.

photo: Dan Zen on flickr

photo: Dan Zen on flickr

The first time I saw Hank the Pool Guy, he was standing at my front door, smiling.

Hank has a big smile. He’s one of those dudes who is perpetually happy.

Does he use herbal enhancements to maintain this state? I don’t know.

But I was a little worried, because he looked like someone who would be more comfortable in the pool than outside the pool, performing delicate repairs.

My initial response aside, Hank turned out to be a fabulous spa repair guy. He fixed the problem in a jiffy, and he gave us great tips on how to maintain the hot tub so we wouldn’t have the same kinds of problems again.

Every time Melissa or I interacted with Hank, we were struck by his optimistic, can-do attitude.

There was something about him that radiated positivity, but it was hard to say exactly what it was. Was it his smile? His voice? His mellow vibe?

photo: Don Hankins on flickr

photo: Don Hankins on flickr

It took a few visits for our hot tub to be returned to its previous state of glory, and it was on Hank’s final visit that Melissa and I finally pinpointed the tell-tale sign of his optimism.

It was the word “Oh.” Hank said it at the beginning of every sentence. It was a verbal tic, one that indicated a state of perpetual openness, perpetual wonder.

Oh, here’s a way you can handle that kind of problem in the future.” “Oh, New Orleans, I used to live there. It was awesome.” “Oh, I know what you mean.”

It’s such a small word, “Oh,” but every time it came out of Hank’s mouth, it seemed to signify a powerful readiness, an unadulterated receptivity to life.

Yes, the word “Oh” could be used in an entirely different manner. One denoting cynicism or anger.

But that’s not what Hank was about. Hank was about discovering a new surprise around each corner. And each new surprise was greeted with another “Oh.” Another open-armed welcome into his world.

raise your arms if you're sure

It’s been a long time since our hot tub was fixed, but we still check in with Hank from time to time. Just the other day, Melissa called him to ask a question about hot-tub maintenance. She reported that he was still his awesome self, still riding the “Oh.”

When I think of Hank, I am struck by the power of a simple word, the power of a simple intention.

Just a slight shift in a more positive direction can make a world of difference. We all have the power to do this, every day.

Try greeting everything in your world with an “Oh,” whether you use the word or not. Try noticing the wonders around you, being open to the surprises around each corner.

Hank does. And you can too.

photo: Daniel Zedda on flickr

photo: Daniel Zedda on flickr

How do you use language to magnify your positivity? And who are the Hanks in your life?


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