Motivation TricksSuccess comes in cans, failure comes in can’ts, so ditch the negative and make way for the positive by using positive affirmations every day.

The brain cannot see or hear, in the literal sense. That’s right, it only reacts to the stimuli that it is given, and a person’s mental chatter continually affirms his or her personal beliefs. Affirmations are assertions that something is true, and they can be the key to redirecting the body’s energy, either in a positive way or a negative one. The brain may be deaf and blind, but don’t dumb it down by thinking too many negative thoughts. The mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Affirmations can promote a positive self-image and a positive outlook, but others may not, as they are dysfunctional and damaging. Some of these “inner truths” may not actually be true anymore, but the great news is they can be changed.

Positive affirmations can help to increase self-esteem, productivity, and motivation by reinforcing positive and enthusiastic behavior. Think of positive affirmations as a kind of DIY brainwashing.

Positive affirmations are usually short positive statements that target specific subconscious beliefs. They shoot down negative beliefs and replace them with self-nurturing ones.

Don’t worry if saying new positive affirmations feels like a blatant lie. In the beginning, that’s to be expected, because the brain is used to hearing something else.  When that self- chatter starts to change from negative to positive, it is natural to disbelieve it at first. The mind can be very stubborn.

In fact, it’s a good sign if it seems like a lie in the beginning.  That means the positive affirmations are challenging the subconscious. Keep on keepin on, because it will take some time to change those negative beliefs.

Here are a few techniques:

Write out the affirmations and put them somewhere that is visible every day.

Use the present tense as if it already exits. For example, “I am Happy”.

Use positive phrasing for what is desired, not what is not desired.  Say “I am intelligent”, rather than “I am not stupid”.

Use short and simple phrases, and don’t sweat the details.

Use believable statements. For example, a pet died. Don’t use “I am okay, and I am happy gosh darn it!”, but rather “I am happy with the time spent with fluffy”.

Say affirmations while looking in the mirror, and say them out loud with conviction, especially before falling asleep and upon waking.

Reality is the result of thoughts, and sometimes the “do as I say, not as I do” approach is the best way to get moving in the right direction. The subconscious is very strong, and if it is nurtured by constant repetition of positive self-talk, our strengths and talents will come into focus, because the mind is just that powerful. Excellence is not a skill, it’s an attitude.


“The key to success and a happy life” — Well who doesn’t want that? When I read this quote, I had to see what it was all about. It comes from a book called Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

The author describes willpower like this — Willpower is what separates us from the animals. It’s the capacity to restrain our impulses, resist temptation – do what’s right and good for us in the long run, not what we want to do right now.

In the 60s, sociologist Walter Mischel was interested in how young children resist instant gratification; he offered them the choice of one marshmallow now or two if they could wait 15 minutes.

My husband and I refer to “the marshmallows” in many a discussion about child rearing. We try not to spoil the kids by letting them have something new everytime we get within a two mile radius of a store. And with the help of a weekly allowance and the IPod App My Town 2, we are working hard to instill willpower (or marshmallows which we use as our code word) at an early age.

Mischel’s findings have recently been confirmed by a 2010 study in New Zealand. For 32 years, starting at birth, a team of international researchers tracked 1,000 people, rating their observed and reported self-control and willpower in a different ways.

What they found was that those with high self-control  (the ones in Mischel’s experiment who held out for two marshmallows later) grew into healthier, happier, and wealthier adults — even taking into account differences of intelligence, race, and social class,

The study also discovered that those with low willpower did not do as well academically. They were more likely to be in low-paying jobs with few savings, to be overweight, to have drug or alcohol problems, and to have difficulty maintaining stable relationships (many were single parents). They were also nearly four times more likely to have a criminal conviction.

The author concludes that “Willpower is one of the most important predictors of success in life. And that willpower is actually like a kind of moral muscle.”

Like a muscle, it can get tired if you overuse it. When you are using your willpower to resist those cupcakes in the break room, and you are also making important decisions and taking initiatives, it all draws from the same pool of energy. The immune system also dips into the same energy pot, so having a cold tends to reduce self-control, and PMS does the same. We get cranky and irritable as our usual restraints become weakened.

Another way that willpower resembles a mental “muscle” is that when it’s low on strength, it can be revived with nutrients. Getting a decent night’s sleep and eating well (healthy, slow-burning fuel like protein and good carbs) is important to revive your willpower.

Do you see how this can be a problem for dieters who have chosen a quick fix diet or crash diet. You need to eat (maintain good nutrition) in order to summon up the willpower not to eat. Hmmmm?

Here are some top willpower tips:

1. Build up your self-control by exercising that willpower muscle regularly. Even small, day-to-day acts of willpower such as maintaining good posture or speaking in complete sentences can reinforce long-term self-control in completely unrelated activities.

2. Don’t try to do too much at once, but if you do, learn to recognize signs that your willpower may be fading.

3. Don’t crash diet.

4. Establish good habits and routines that will take the strain off your willpower.

5. Don’t put yourself in temptation’s way.  When your lunch choices are packing a healthy sandwich or going to insert favorite restaurant here, it should be a no brainer which way to go.

One last quote from the authors:  “People with low willpower use it to get themselves out of crises. People with high willpower use it not to get themselves into crises.”





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