A Personal Mantra Can Make You Happier

Silently repeating a short, positive word or phrase can ward off negative thoughts and feelings

Thomas Duening
Silently repeating a short, positive word or phrase can ward off negative thoughts and feelings

A personal mantra, repeated silently to yourself, can profoundly impact your mood both in the short term and long term. The term mantra in Sanskrit means "to think". Since ancient times, mantras have been used to calm the mind and produce a sense of peace. Recently, scientists have confirmed this calming effect and have discovered the causal factors within the brain/mind that bring it about. 

Research published in the journal Brain and Behavior shows that silently repeating a positive personal mantra quiets the mind and reduces self-judgment. Silently repeating a mantra counteracts the tendency of many people to ruminate or dwell on negative self-beliefs. In fact, silently repeating a positive mantra actually changes your brain. The research points out that neurons that consistently fire, as when you repeat a positive mantra, tend to become strengthened. That is, the pattern of neural activity that constitutes your silent thought becomes easier to conjure over time and becomes increasingly effective in countering negative thoughts or feelings.

Do you have a personal mantra that can be reduced to a single word or very short phrase? If not, you may want to consider developing one. A positive mantra can be a word such as "give" or "grace" or a short phrase such as "create value" or "don't give up". Here are some tips for developing your own positive personal mantra:

Imagine yourself older and wiser: What advice would you give to your current self that would help you become a better, more effective person?

Develop several positive mantras: Repeating the same mantra constantly could become dull and it could lose its potency. Rather, develop several mantras and use the one that is most beneficial in the moment.

Keep it short: Your personal mantra should ideally be reduced to a single word, but a short phrase can also be effective.

Make it positive and true: Your mantra should be a gentle reminder to yourself that you are worthy and deserve to have happiness in your life. It should also be something that you believe to be true about yourself.