“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. Slogans anchor me to what is important in life.
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 notion that slogans 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 and phrases 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.
Try “training with slogans.” Pick a slogan that has meaning, focuses on a reasonable goal, and one you can remember. 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. The length of the slogan is your choice. The point is to choose words that are meaningful and you can remember. You can use your own words or someone else’s. Sit down at least once a day in a quiet place, preferably early, relax, and say the words to yourself. Say them out loud. Throughout the day, try to find moments to recite your slogan. Repeating or chanting your slogan can be even more powerful.
Here are a few slogans to get you started:
- “Breathe in, breathe out.”
- “Let go.”
- “Lighten up.”
- “Count my blessings.”
- “This too shall pass.”
- “I have all the time I need.”
- “Forgive others, forgive myself.”
- “Be here, now.” ~Ram Dass
- “I am enough, I have enough, I do enough.” ~Unknown
- “The darkest hour is that before the dawn.” ~Euripides
- “Challenges are opportunities in work clothes.” ~Unknown
- “Do what you feel in your heart to be right.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
- “If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.” ~William James wrote,
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