Last Updated on March 31, 2021 by Paul Farrell, MRP, JD, PhD
“If you have a guy with all the survival training in the world who has a negative attitude and a guy who doesn’t have a clue but has a positive attitude, I guarantee you that the guy with a positive attitude is coming out of the woods alive.
Simple as that.”
– Special Forces instructor in Fast Company
Positive affirmations are powerful words and phrases that tap into our inner-most belief system and arouse your emotions. Unlike mantras – which are thought to be cloaked with spiritual and religious energy – affirmations have a more practical role in everyday life and are used every day in the business world. I have them everywhere, my desk, monitor, wallet, and on my mind, reminders when the going gets tough and the stress is high. You probably do to.
In fact, I believe all executives are familiar with and use positive affirmations in one way or another, although you may call them goals or mission statements, for example. Affirmations are natural expressions of what we want to achieve in business and in life, and the attitudes we need today to get what we want. My first contact with them came from Napoleon Hill’s classic, Think & Grow Rich, which most most of us in business have read at one time or another.
Positive Affirmations … Whatever the Mind Can Conceive and Believe … It Can Achieve
You need a “definiteness of purpose:” Clearly state your goal, exactly what you want, when, your target date for achievement, a definite plan. Then you write it down, and read it aloud to yourself twice a day. Tape it to your bathroom mirror and put a copy on a card in your wallet – and read it often!
Hill’s secret to getting rich is a mantra he repeated “no fewer than a hundred times throughout this book” to encourage you to create your own positive affirmations in writing!
Because Hill believed with absolute conviction that, “whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve,” and over the years that belief has worked for millions in the business world.
There are many variations of his message – for example, Mark Fisher’s wonderful little parable, The Instant Millionaire; Jack Canfield’s wide-ranging Success Principles; and Wayne Dyer’s Real Magic – but in the final analysis, Hill’s classic is the benchmark against which all other motivational works are measured by the business community.
Yes, You Can “Think and Grow Rich!”
Today there’s one that does sail high over the bar. Moreover, it is the simplest and best description about how affirmations actually work to create success in today’s highly competitive business world. It comes from Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen, the creators of the Chicken Soup for the Soul phenomenon.
In their tenth anniversary edition, Living Your Dreams, they tell us that “an affirmation is a statement that evokes not only a picture, but the experience of already having what you want.” And as with Think & Grow Rich, you anchor the affirmation over and over: “Repeating an affirmation several times a day keeps you focused on your goal, strengthens your motivation, and programs your subconscious by sending an order to your subconscious crew to do whatever it takes to make that goal happen.”
Creating the Perfect “Positive Affirmation”
Here’s the simple Chicken Soup for the Soul recipe for creating great affirmations that are guaranteed to work so that you can achieve all your goals in life. Just follow these eight simple rules in constructing your affirmations:
A positive affirmation starts with “I am …”
A positive affirmation is always stated in the positive.
A positive affirmation is stated in the present tense.
A positive affirmation is short.
A positive affirmation is specific.
A positive affirmation includes an action verb ending in –ing.
A positive affirmation has a feeling word in it
Positive affirmations are about yourself.
Positive Affirmations DO Work!
And yes, positive affirmations do work, the two geniuses behind the Chicken Soup books are living proof of the incredible power of an affirmation.
Their first book received 121 rejections, and yet they never lost sight of their dream. Ten years later, they were closing in on 100 million in sales! So they upped the bar with a new affirmation – their “2020 Vision” – to sell one billion copies and raise $500 million for charity! Positive affirmations work. They are powerful success tools.
My personal experience with affirmations constantly amazes me in the way they seem to produce actual results. Maybe not always as fast as I wanted nor exactly as I had envisioned the results, but the results were usually blessings in disguise because what I actually did get was often much better than I could have hoped for.
And for that I am thankful because it proves to me that the process of using affirmations does work. It works because it gets you into action with a positive mental attitude, regardless of whether you end up where you planned to go or someplace even better.
Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative
So let me add one thing that you may need if you have any mental, emotional or spiritual resentments, because negative energy can subconsciously sabotage all the wonderful “Positive Mental Attitude” you’re trying to create with your affirmations.
Always remember that the ol’ Johnnie Mercer tune and make sure you’re “eliminating the negative” as well as “accentuating the positive.” Work out any resentments, anger, grief and what-have-you that might be holding you back and weakening your affirmations.
You need to balance the two, working on both at the same time, something I discovered through trial and error years ago during my midlife crisis. If necessary, work in private with your favorite therapist or spiritual counselor. The combination these two working together will create a powerful energy that’s guaranteed to release the full thrust of your affirmations so that “whatever your mind can conceive, and whatever you believe, you will achieve!”
One final note on adding power to your affirmations – for the rest of your natural life, paste the words of the great Michelangelo on your bathroom mirror where you can see them every day:
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
About the Author
Dr. Farrell is a Behavioral Economist. His books include The Millionaire Code; The Millionaire Meditation: Stress Management for Wall Street, Corporate America & Entrepreneurs; The Zen Millionaire; The Winning Portfolio; Expert Investing on The Net; Mutual Funds on The Net; and The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing.
He also published 1,643 columns on DowJones-MarketWatch and for years was their #1 traffic-generating columnist. Before the Internet, he edited & published FNX: Future News Index, a financial newsletter for stock market traders. Earlier he was a Wall Street investment banker with Morgan Stanley, Executive Vice President of the Financial News Network; and Associate Editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.
He has a Doctorate in Psychology, Juris Doctor, Masters in Regional Planning and Bachelor of Architecture. He worked on the Esalen organic farm and served in the U.S. Marine Corps as Staff Sergeant in aviation computer technology.