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16 Mantras to Reset Your Mindset for Joy

14. What you put energy and effort into grows stronger over time.

Key points

  • Mantras have been empirically studied and are proven as a tool for improved health and mental health.
  • What you specifically recite when selecting a mantra is less important than the repeated focused attention.
  • Through powerful, memorable, and concise mantras, we can train ourselves to continually tap into our joy, strength, and fortitude.
Oziel Gómez/Pexels
Source: Oziel Gómez/Pexels

With holidays and a new year approaching, we have moments to contemplate how we want to move forward with our lives. We always have choices; even inaction is an action taken. Self-affirming mantras help to center and ground us so that we’re pausing, contemplating, and strategizing with mindful awareness, thus fortifying joy and contentment.

The concept of a mantra originates from Buddhist and Hindu traditions. A number of studies suggest that soothing mantras may help ease anxiety and other mental health conditions, such as depression. We can choose mantras that we can personally relate to, are consistent with our beliefs, and compel us toward growth and progress.

Why Mantras Are Helpful

You may use a mantra to introduce calmness and to focus on words and ideas that are important to you. It can serve as a focal point for mindfulness and present moment awareness and a pathway for soothing affirming messages that can connect you to your values. A mantra can also empower value-based decision-making and can bring you a sense of emotional connection to your mind and body.

Several studies suggest that mantras may improve health and mental health. A systematic review found general improvements in stress, anxiety, anger, depression, and burnout among participants in 37 studies. Another randomized controlled trial found clinically relevant reductions in depression symptoms.

Neuroscientists, equipped with advanced brain-imaging technology, are also beginning to quantify and confirm some of the health benefits of reciting mantras to calm the nervous system and reduce the default mode network in the brain, which is related to mind wandering and distraction. Research also suggests that it doesn’t matter what you specifically recite—as long as you repeat something with focused attention, you’ll get positive results.

16 Mantras to Reset Your Mindset

  1. When I’m willing to welcome, accept, and befriend negative and uncomfortable emotions, validate myself, and engage in self-compassion, I commit to making room for growth and expansion.
  2. I do not have control over my thoughts and feelings, only the way I choose to behave or react to them.
  3. My brain is hardwired to focus on the negative. I can more easily recall memories of my pain than my joy, both cognitively, in my mind, and somatically, in my body. My reptilian brain tells me that if I focus on the negative, the what-ifs, and what-could-inevitably-go-wrongs, then I’m protecting myself from harm, failure, and discomfort. My thinking processes do not need to skew my inner experiences and behavior.
  4. My mind is persistent. I cannot necessarily rid myself of the chatter in my mind but rather just lower the volume. The chatter can become a direct portal to my values and a better understanding of what is meaningful and important to me.
  5. To increase my flexibility and curiosity, I’ll perpetually ask myself, “How else can I see this?” and “Is my reaction and behavior helping me to lean toward or away from building my confidence and a reflection of who I want to be?”
  6. I feel more comfortable with familiarity than the frightening unknown, even if it's painful, distressing, and less than ideal. I’ll acknowledge these feelings rather than react to them from a place of stuckness, stagnation, or fear.
  7. Creating space between thinking and doing requires that I pace myself, observe myself, and remain curious about myself. All thoughts and feelings that show up in the process are OK. What matters most is how I choose to react to them. This is inevitably my choice.
  8. In my pain, I find my values, and in my values, I find my pain. In other words, if I’m feeling distressed, it’s because a value is being rubbed up against, and if a value is being rubbed up against, I will inevitably feel distressed. My distress assists me in better understanding my needs and what’s truly important to me.
  9. I will choose to behave based on who I authentically am and how I want to be, no matter what, irrespective of someone else's behavior.
  10. If I commit to perpetual curiosity, openness, and hopefulness, I ask myself, “How will I do better tomorrow, and what will I commit to doing to make that happen?”
  11. If I continually stay connected to my values, I’ll remain mindful and grounded and behave based on my best self.
  12. Cutting off my negative or uncomfortable feelings inadvertently also impacts my ability to connect with my positive and more comfortable ones. I choose to welcome all feelings and experiences and minimize my judgments of them in order to stay connected, engaged, and in the present moment.
  13. To foster self-acceptance, I will observe myself just as I am without attaching any descriptors or adjectives to my observations.
  14. What I put positive (e.g., gratitude) or negative (e.g., anger) energy and effort into grows stronger over time. All moments are prime opportunities for me to be proactive in cultivating greater confidence and helpful habits.
  15. By being accepting and compassionate towards myself, I can more easily give others the same benefit of the doubt, as I am able to connect with what it feels like to be imperfect and to suffer as well.
  16. There are so many things that I can’t control, so sometimes, in order to gain control, I must let go of the need for wanting or needing to control.

As humans, we all experience adversity. How we react to adversity will vary depending on our situation, experience, and values. Through powerful, memorable, and concise mantras, you will be continually reminded that through your adversity and challenge, you can find your joy, strength, and fortitude.

For more mantras and affirmations, see my new book ACE Your Life: Unleash Your Best Self and Live the Life You Want. Also, listen here for a Strength, Power, and Resilience Guided Meditation led by me.

More from Michelle P. Maidenberg Ph.D., MPH, LCSW-R, CGP
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