+
matt mcconaughey, dictionaries, sapir-worf hypothesis

Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Actor Matthew McConaughey is known for being a bit of a philosopher. He played up the persona a few years back in a series of commercials where he pontificated while behind the wheel of a large Lincoln.

"Taking care of yourself takes care of more than just yourself. That's the sweet spot,” he said in one ad. "Sometimes you gotta go back to actually move forward,” he mused in another.

McConaughey’s philosophizing isn’t limited to TV commercials. He keeps the party going on Twitter where he regularly posts videos of himself discussing everything from journaling to how he’s arrived at his unique perspectives.

On May 16, he made a bold claim in a video that some may not agree with but it actually has a strong footing in science. In a video where he’s sitting on a lawn chair, McConaughey says that the word “unbelievable” should be removed from the dictionary.


“Unbelievable. It’s my least favorite word, I think we should wipe it out of the dictionary. Why? What’s so unbelievable about tragedy, about triumph, about people that raise us up or let us down?” he asked.

“It happens every single day we shouldn’t think that the most beautiful sunset or the greatest play or the greatest love of our life or the greatest moment of euphoria is unbelievable. Believe it! It’s happening right in front of you,” he continued. “In you! We shouldn’t feel like the greatest tragedy of death or earthquakes or national disasters or loss is unbelievable. It’s part of life too! Believe it. We see it happen every day.”

He suggested some words we should use to replace “unbelievable.”

"Unbelievable? I don’t buy it. Awesome, horrible, incredible. I believe those. That’s a good way to explain things. But unbelievable? Nah. It just happened. Believe it,” he said.

McConaughey is asking people to reframe how they see people and events to accept the entire spectrum of reality. Even if that means coming to the realization that people can be incredibly altruistic and also downright evil. Or that when we see a powerful natural phenomenon—whether deadly or beautiful—we accept it all as part of our awe-inspiring universe.

He’s asking us to put aside our judgments and take it all in. Because when we label things "unbelievable" we set them apart from reality when we should be incorporating them into our worldviews.

The funny thing is that McConaughey’s thoughts are in alignment with one of the most powerful ideas in linguistics, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. It posits that the language we use has a strong effect on how we interpret reality and that people who speak different languages see the world differently.

The idea is still up for debate, but linguists believe that “language influences perceptions, thought, and, at least potentially, behavior” (Holmes, 2001). Therefore, McConaughey is right. When we deem the things we see with our own eyes to be “unbelievable” we are divorcing ourselves from reality. Why cast the extremes aside when we can embrace the entirety of our scary, beautiful and mysterious existence with our entire hearts?

True

Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!

However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Someone asked strangers online to share life's essential lessons. Here are the 17 best.

There's a bit of advice here for everyone—from financial wisdom to mental health tips.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Failure is a great teacher.

It’s true that life never gets easier, and we only get continuously better at our lives. Childhood’s lessons are simple—this is how you color in the lines, 2 + 2 = 4, brush your teeth twice a day, etc. As we get older, lessons keep coming, and though they might still remain simple in their message, truly understanding them can be difficult. Often we learn the hard way.

The good news is, the “hard way” is indeed a great teacher. Learning the hard way often involves struggle, mistakes and failure. While these feelings are undeniably uncomfortable, being patient and persistent enough to move through them often leaves us not only wiser in having gained the lesson, but more confident, assured and emotionally resilient. If that’s not growth, I don’t know what is.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Co-Op and Pixabay

Co-op CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq.

The CEO of Co-op, one of the UK’s largest supermarket chains has made an important statement about excess at a time when many families are struggling in the UK.

The Daily Mail reports that Shirine Khoury-Haq, the head of a company with over 3900 retail locations says she’s giving her twin, six-year-old daughters one present each this Christmas because she could not “in good conscience” give them more while millions of families struggle with inflation and high energy prices.

Khoury-Haq makes over £1 million ($1,190,000) a year after bonuses, so she pledged to give her family's present money to those in need. “It just feels like excess, given what’s happening in the world. In good conscience, I can’t do that in my own home,” Khoury-Haq said according to The Guardian.

“The rest of our budget will be given to Santa to provide presents for children whose parents can’t contribute to the elves,” she continued. “We’re going to go out shopping for those other presents and [we will] send them to Santa.”

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Artist captures how strangers react to her body in public and it's fascinating

Haley Morris-Cafiero's photos might make you rethink how you look at people.

Credit: Haley Morris-Cafiero

Artist Haley Morris-Cafiero describes herself on her website as "part performer, part artist, part provocateur, part spectator." Her recent project, titled "Wait Watchers" has elements of all her self-descriptors.

In an email to us, Morris-Cafiero explained that she set up a camera in the street and stood in front of it, doing mundane activities like looking at a map or eating gelato. While she's standing there she sets off her camera, taking hundreds of photos.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Cuban immigrant’s reaction to getting his first American paycheck has gone viral

Before coming to the U.S. last year, Diaz made $12 a month as a computer science teacher in Cuba.

The Cuban and American flags.

An Instagram post featuring Yoel Diaz, a recent Cuban immigrant, is going viral because it shows a powerful example of something many of us in America take for granted. The freedom to earn a paycheck for a day of honest labor.

In the video, Diaz is ecstatic after he opens his first paycheck after getting a job as a seasonal worker for UPS. CBS reports that before coming to the U.S. last year, Diaz made $12 a month as a computer science teacher in Cuba.

"This is my first hourly paycheck that I feel every hour counted," he told CBS News. "That every hour of work has importance in my life and that I know I can work hard for something. I can't compare that emotion with anything. Because I never had that in my country."

The new job was a big change from life in Cuba where he had trouble filling his refrigerator. He told CBS News that sometimes he only had two items: "Water, water, water, five, ten eggs, water."

Keep ReadingShow less