At some point in my middle childhood, my father became a little consumed with what he called “the power of positive thinking.” As an adult, I understand there’s more to this slightly new-agey idea than simply thinking “positive” in the most literal manner conceivable, but as a kid most of what I absorbed from his enforced optimism was the notion that by repeating a certain idea over and over again, one could control both her state of mind and her overall sense of well-being.
My most vivid memory of deploying this newfound power happened during a car ride through Florida on the way back from a visit to my grandparents’ house in a tiny little canal-riddled backwater north of Lake Okeechobee, in the very middle of the state, the very middle of exactly nowhere.
I was always prone to motion sickness -- still am, notoriously so, even more violently so, as an adult -- and on a prior drive home I had demonstrated the true thrust of my propensity for car-based nausea by painting the back seat with my projectile illness, returning the three Granny Smith apples I’d wolfed down that morning (they were a new fruit to me at the time, and I found them irresistibly delicious).
On this drive, I felt the familiar wooziness coming on and curled myself against the passenger door of my dad’s excellent Pontiac Firebird, resting my head against the armrest and peering down into the space between the door and the leather seat. I remembered my father’s power of positive thinking and took to it with impassioned zeal: “I will not get car sick. I will not get car sick. I will not get car sick.” I probably whispered this to myself a hundred or a thousand times on that multi-hour drive home.
And magically, I did not get car sick.
I was, henceforth, a Believer.
I am still fond of affirmations, decades later. Having grown into a person even more deeply invested in the power of words -- words on paper are basically my best, most effective way of communicating anything about myself, after all -- I continue to rely on silly little phrases to pick me up and to remind me to be awesome. Indeed, I use them as decor.
Hanging over my desk is a print of a whale carrying a banner that says, “Go confidently.” On my bulletin board there lives a card reminding me “Impossible things happen every day.” Even my phone tells me not to panic (which is also a reference to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” all right) every time I unlock the damn thing.
Sure, this is hugely dorky. But it works for me, and if the price of my contentedness is looking like a dork, that is a price I can afford to pay.
Want to join me on this feel-good affirmation train? SURE YOU DO. To assist you on this path of word-enabled empowerment, I’m sharing some of my favorite recent affirmative art finds from Etsy.
Do you have a favorite affirmation? Break it down for us in comments, and let’s share the silly little recitations that keep us all going.