“In all activities, train with slogans,” is a Buddhist saying. I am a fan of catchy phrases, so I particularly like this one because it uses a slogan to make a point about slogans. I use slogans to remind me of what is important in life. Like many humans, when I am under stress I am prone to bouts of self-neglect. Self-neglect wasn’t good for me when I had hepatitis C and it isn’t good for me now that I am a hepatitis C survivor. Stress affects the body’s immune system, both negatively and positively, depending on the type of stress and our response to it. High quality health relies on a functioning immune system.
Slogans or mantras are tools I keep in my health toolbox. Catchphrases help me to maintain focus. According to Merriam-Webster, the word slogan comes from Scottish Gaelic and it means “a war or rallying cry.” Another meaning is “a word or phrase used to express a characteristic stand or a goal to be achieved.” Slogans help me rally around an issue and remind me to focus on my goal.
The use of mantras is not a bunch of New Age psychobabble. The concept has captured scientific interest. The field of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) specializes in examining the thought process, finding negative thoughts, and trying to replace these with positive ones in order to make behavioral changes. Although written prior to the formalization of CBT, psychologist and philosopher William James summed it up beautifully when he stated, “Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
The idea of using slogans to influence behavior has been around for thousands of years. One only has to look at nearly any spiritual tradition to find a wealth of sayings. If you have any doubt about the power of slogans to influence both body and mind, just look at advertising. The field of advertising relies on jingles to catch our attention, influence our thinking, and affect the choices we make. “Having it your way” is an illusion, because in choosing a burger made by the corporation behind this advertising phrase, we are really having it their way. Having it “our way” for health conscious people involves healthy food choices – not fat-laden burgers and fries.
Catchy phrases come from all sources. In my younger days, I had a job that involved manual labor. Whenever I was spending too much time perfecting a project, my supervisor would tell me, “It ain’t a Steinway.” To this day, when I find myself overly absorbed in trying to produce something perfectly, I tell myself, “It ain’t a Steinway.” However, there are times when it is important to strive for perfection and the corollary of this saying may be true. For instance, when I was involved with direct patient care, patients were Steinways.
My latest slogan is a quote by M. Scott Peck, “Self-discipline is self-caring.” It’s perfect because I can apply it to every temptation. Earlier I didn’t feel like walking, and out came the slogan. When I feel like skipping my morning meditation, my inner voice says, “Self-discipline is self-caring.”
Here are tips for training with slogans:
- Pick a slogan that has meaning, focuses on a reasonable goal, and is one you can remember. You can use your own words or someone else’s
- Write it down and place it where you will see it at least once a day. Writing it down several times and putting it in more than one place can be reinforcing. Write it in your own hand rather than type it. This engages the brain more actively.
- Sit down at least once a day in a quiet place, preferably early, relax, and say the words to yourself. Say them aloud.
- Throughout the day, try to find moments to recite your slogan. Repeating or chanting your slogan can be even more powerful.
To get you started I have provided a list of slogans:
- “Let go.”
- “Lighten up.”
- “Patience is a virtue.”
- “This too shall pass.”
- “I have all the time I need.”
- “Count my blessings, not my problems.”
- “I am enough, I have enough, I do enough.”
- “Be here, now.” – Ram Dass
- “Self-discipline is self-caring.” – M. Scott Peck
- “No time for your health today will result in no health for your time tomorrow.” – Irish Proverb
- “If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.” – William James
- “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb
- “Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” – Carol Burnett
- “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi
- “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”– Gail Sheehy
- “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius
Here are places to look for quotes:
Do you have a slogan or quote? I’m a quote collector, and I’d love to hear yours.