“Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” — Dalai Lama
Rewiring your brain is hard to do. If you’ve ever tried to break or start a new habit, then you know what it’s like.
It takes lots of repetition. It also takes a lot of grace. Failure is inevitable when you want to change — whether it’s cutting out refined sugar or practicing positive self-talk.
The thoughts that we have about ourselves are just as much a habit as anything else. After all, we’re likely repeating these beliefs over and over again, sometimes all day long. If your default daily mantra is “I won’t be successful,” you start to behave in a way that makes fostering growth difficult. But when you’ve found a glimmer of positivity and you’re able to hold on to it, great things can happen.
Having a daily mantra is a lot like starting a healthy habit. It’s an exercise for your mental health, and it can have profound effects.
How much pull can thinking have on your life? Researchers continue to find that it may be more powerful than we think. It can even impact physical health.
“Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information,” says Mayo Clinic staff who study stress management.
Take a day or week and keep note of all of the “me” thoughts you have and track whether they are positive or negative. It’s an interesting exercise in helping you to determine your baseline. Then ask yourself if those statements are true, and if not (it’s likely that they’re an exaggeration), how can you change them?
How do daily mantras work?
Mantras are an important part of many religions. For example, “om” is considered to be the most sacred of all mantras in Hinduism; just a single syllable, the sound embodies the entire universe.
Today, the definition of mantra has taken on many different meanings in addition to being a type of religious prayer. Even the word “mantra” has come to be a reference to powerful words or beliefs that shape our values, thoughts and personal brands.
A personal mantra is something that is unique to you and helps you to maintain a healthy mindset, work toward a goal or attract positive thinking into your life.
Once you’ve got it — your mantra, that is — think of it often. Repeat it. Meditate on it. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Whatever it takes to remind yourself of all of the positivity and inspiration in your life.
The more that you can think about being your best self, achieving your dreams or finding peace, the more you’re rewiring your brain to get there. It’s the power of positive self-talk.
What makes a good daily mantra?
Start slowly and be deliberate, advises Judy L. Van Raalte, a professor of psychology at Springfield College, in Massachusetts. Research has found that overcompensating for negative thoughts can actually make you feel worse if they have low self-esteem, so a mantra that is too vague or lofty can be overwhelming.
Try to avoid statements like, “I will be a billionaire.” It’s hard to say that will ever come true, but you can start to think differently about wealth and financial success.
Instead, formulate a mantra that embodies your goal. “I make wise spending decisions” or “I work hard and I know my worth” are both ways to achieve a mantra that’s open-ended and encouraging (a winning duo!)
Van Raalte also says that the pronouns in positive self-talk matter. One study showed that athletes who used “we” helped to improve performance. It makes sense. If you’re thinking like a team, you’re acting like one.
In the case of a personal mantra, you’ll want to choose a declarative statement in the first person. Personal mantras are just that, personal. Use words like “me” or “I” and in your declaration choose strong action words like “will” or “create.”
Your mantra should be encouraging and helpful in overcoming a challenge setback. Avoid words like “not” or “won’t.” You may want to stop making unnecessary purchases, but using negative words might actually cause more damage. Instead of thinking about ways to grow, you’ll obsess over your existing habits.
Finally, keep it short. You’ll want a mantra that you can refer back to often. Something too long or wordy might actually hinder your progress.
27 ideas for daily mantras to try:
- Good things take time and I have patience.
- My commitment to myself is my top priority.
- I’m in charge of creating the path I want to walk.
- Mistakes are an opportunity to learn.
- I am striving for balance in mind, body, and soul.
- I’m choosing to have a good day.
- This journey was meant for me and I am meant for this journey.
- I am enough.
- Rest is necessary. I can’t pour from an empty vessel.
- I choose to see the good.
- Protecting my energy is important.
- I’m not letting yesterday take time out of today.
- I create my own definition of success.
- My energy will attract the right people into my life.
- Courage is standing up for myself.
- Everything I need I already have.
- Baby steps are still forward movement.
- I will not hesitate to do the things I need to do for my well being.
- I am releasing anxiety born from the unknown.
- I’ve done more than enough today.
- Everyday I become more of the person I am meant to be.
- I can do it all, but not at once.
- Feelings are not facts.
- My voice is as important as the others in the room.
- Life becomes better when I’m true to myself.
- Practice makes progress.
- I am confident in how I make decisions.