It’s no secret that we tend to spend more time doing things we enjoy, rather than things we find boring or annoying. However, sometimes those boring or annoying things (doing dishes, doing the laundry, attending meetings at work, filling out expense reports) still need to get accomplished. How can you turn “boring or annoying” into something you can tolerate – or even get to love? The trick is to change your habits as well as your attitude.
If you have the attitude of seeing the best in people, and a habit of nurturing and sponsoring those in need, then you have the quality of philanthropy, literally translated from the Greek as “love of humanity.” The root word philos means love, and this root frequently appears as the prefix phil- or philo-. If you don’t have the habit of looking up a word’s etymology to study the root words it’s made from, then you’re missing an important part of vocabulary study. The more you know about words, the more you’ll like them.
Once you’ve gotten into the habit of looking for root words, you’ll find that it’s much easier to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words that share those same roots. For example, if you looked up the other half of philanthropy you’ll have found that the second part of the word comes from the Greek word anthropos, which means “humankind.” So what do you think the word anthropology means? If you guessed “the study of humankind,” you’re right. And if you could figure that out because you already learned the common root suffix -logy (“study, practice”), your attitude of curiosity towards words will have paid off.
Building on your good habits, and developing an attitude of curiosity and exploration will help you quickly add new words to your vocabulary. If you develop a love of words, you’ll also learn to love using them in new and creative ways, which will make your written and spoken communication more interesting to other people (as well as yourself) and ensure that you’re better able to hold an audience’s attention. After all, you don’t want people to equate the phrase “boring or annoying” with their conversations with you!
Practice your new-found love of words and learning by looking up, defining, and using these words in one or more sentences: philosophy, philodendron, philharmonic, philately, philology.