Words are more powerful than you might think.
Psychologists estimate that the average person has more than 6,000 thoughts per day. And while it’s difficult to know how many of those are positive versus negative, scientists also know how much of an effect they can have on your day-to-day life and health, and how affirmations can play such an important role in making you feel like your best self.
“Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress, which upsets the body's hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness, and damages the immune system,” researchers from the University of Minnesota say. “Chronic stress can actually decrease our lifespan. Science has now identified that stress shortens our telomeres, the ‘end caps’ of our DNA strands, which causes us to age more quickly.”
Likewise, positive thoughts or affirmations can improve your health, lifespan and even your GPA and career. So it’s clear the way we talk to ourselves is important, and also something we should put some effort into! If you can coach yourself into a more positive mindset, you’ll see the benefits. Just like a healthy diet and time to relax, an affirmation practice can be a great act of self-care.
But there’s a catch.
You actually have to believe the affirmations you practice. If not, you’re setting yourself up for failure by introducing doubt.
A 2015 study that looked at brain scans of people who performed self-affirming tasks found that people who aligned their affirmations with personal values were more likely to actually make positive changes in their lives.
“The key with self-affirmations is they don't just instantly bring gratification and help, what they do is they enable us to deal with issues as they come up, because you have this sense of positive self-worth and positive values surrounding you,” one of the researchers explains.
For example, the researchers say, people repeating an affirmation such as “I am safe” while in an abusive relationship would simply be untrue and therefore not effective. Similarly, an affirmation that is too vague — or even too specific — may not be the best use of your energy. The trick is to craft an affirmation that allows growth. You have to hit the sweet spot.
By reframing the narrative, you can make the most out of positive affirmations. Instead of repeating “I will be happy” to yourself throughout the day, try an affirmation like “I am living a fulfilling life.” Telling yourself you're happy when you clearly don't feel that way — none of us do 100% of the time — can be disheartening and maybe even lead to abandoning the practice altogether.
At their core, affirmations are “brief phrases which, when repeated frequently, are meant to encourage positive, happy feelings, thoughts, and attitudes, and challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts that the person is experiencing,” says Registered Clinical Psychologist. Dr Stacey Schell, so developing the simple practice only takes some repetition and self-reflection.
The more you practice those positive, reinforcing thoughts the more real they become and the more you start to act like they’re a part of your reality. Repeating an affirmation three to five times per day, writing in your journal or meditating are great ways to take up positive thinking.
To strengthen your practice, phrase the affirmations so that they are in the present tense and you are addressing yourself. You’ll want to believe that this state of mind is currently attainable. Instead of “I will embrace opportunity” like it’s a future endeavor, you ARE embracing opportunity.
Experts suggest you also associate a positive feeling, like joy or comfort, with the affirmation. Doing so can help you work toward that positivity and into a reality where that affirmation is true.
If you believe what you think, then you start to act that way and it really does become your reality. Speaking about happiness, confidence or success like it already exists isn’t a trick, it’s simply a shift in your outlook.
Whether you’re wanting to invite more positivity into your life, achieve a big goal or simply want better health and peace in your life, start by thinking deeply about how what you tell yourself aligns with your beliefs. Tailoring an affirmation is likely to be the most effective way to make a positive change in your life.
Here are 30 affirmations you can adopt and adapt to make your life the best it can be:
Mantras for positivity & happiness
- I invite positivity and growth into my life.
- I’m allowed to feel good.
- My gratitude grows everyday.
- I’m growing and evolving into my best self.
- I am enough and don’t need to prove my worth as a person.
- The world will return what I put into it.
- I’m at home with myself.
- Rest is required for growth.
Mantras for motivation & success
- I have all I need to be successful.
- My ability is limitless and countless opportunities await me.
- I recognize my worth and will act on it.
- Everything I need to succeed can be mine.
- The journey is just as important as the destination.
- I am inspiring and my work has a positive impact on the world.
- Saying “no” is just as important as saying “yes.”
- I can navigate change with grace.
Mantras for healing
- Tough times are only a phase and the next chapter is near.
- I have the power to heal and live my best life.
- I am abandoning old habits and adopting better, healthier habits.
- Everything I am experiencing is to help shape my greatest self.
- I am independent and self-sufficient.
- My obstacles are teaching me important lessons.
- The past is the past and does not define me.
Mantras for anxiety
- Doubt and fear don’t define me.
- I can expand my comfort zone.
- Thoughts aren’t facts and can be altered.
- I trust the process.
- I’m creating a safe space for myself with every decision I make.
- I’m allowed to grow at my own pace.
- I am striving for joy, not perfection.