Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Every now and then, we stumble on a word with unusual powers. That is, it seems to resonate more than most, and we find ourselves changed just by thinking about it. Some words ground us, some expand us, some shift our mood mightily in a moment.

Our current favorite is SPACIOUS.

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Thinking it makes us feel like we have more…space, internal and external…and we find ourselves extending that spaciousness to others by refraining from judging, commenting, interfering, and just letting them be, giving them space. We’ve discovered that giving others space makes our own life more…spacious.

When we mentioned it to a friend, he said a word he often returned to was the French JOUISSANCE. What does it mean? we asked. He said: To me, it means ‘sparkly enjoyment’. 

Sally Schneider/Improvised Life



How beautiful.

(We’ve since discovered that jouissance has many many layers of meaning, and was the particular focus of psychoanalyst Jacque Lacan. We’re happy with sparkly enjoyment.)


Sufi poet Rumi loved the word PRESENCE

Listen to presences inside poems.
Let them take you where they will.

…meet the innermost presence 
as it lives in people.


David Saltman said early 20th century mystic/philosopher Gurdjieff liked to use the phrase “in my common presence” as a way of referring to oneself.

Sally Schneider/Improvised Life
Sally Schneider/Improvised Life

(A good word, too).

There are curiously healing words all over the place…

Mira Keras
Mira Keras

…though what’s healing is often a very personal thing…

Joanna Pan/Flickr
Joanna Pan/Flickr


Wherever we are, whatever challenge or mood we are experiencing, we draw on one of these words to shift our view.




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4 replies on “Words that Ground You, Expand You, Shift Your Thinking or Mood

  1. Sally, I was JUST having this conversation with friends a few days ago… about the words we love and why.

    When I lived in Rome and was learning the language, my instructor often used the word “allora” as we moved from one lesson or concept to another. “Allora” is considered a “filler word” like “so, then, well” in English. It buys you a little time in the conversation and tells the listener you are pausing to think before you speak again.

    Which, let’s face it, we should all do a little more of these days…

  2. I am closed out of the Improvised Life online site, but I thought I had an automatic renewal set up for my membership. Can you please check your records? Tinypass requires user name and password and I’m stuck on finding this!

  3. Ahh, Pamela, wonderful. I’d forgotten about ‘Allora’ and the pause it affords. YES, we should all do that a little more these days and wonderful to have a word that reminds us. Thank you.

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