As my experience of the Five-Minute Journal enters its third week, some of the gloss has worn off – though I think that’s more because I’ve become acclimatized to the improvements it made in my life. In other words it now feels normal to be thankful for three things as soon as I get up (and yes, often one of those things is coffee). I find that it’s sometimes hard to think of “Tardis Moments” – those times that I wish I could go back and change something from the day. Coming to the end of a day and not being able to think of anything you would have done differently? That’s a pretty nifty life, right there.
But one constant challenge over the past weeks has been trying to come up with the daily affirmation – which, when I read it, instantly gave me a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve written about my mistrust of affirmations before, backed up by scientific studies, and also on my work on creating mantras. For someone who writes as much as I do, you’d think I’d be better at finding the right words, but a recent comment by Traeonna actually blew my best mantra out of the water. “Dance, don’t scramble” is not bad, but her phrasing – “Flow, don’t flail” has the advantage of being alliterative! Not to mention that it includes one of my other favorite subjects – flow, which is one of the key tools for mastering your perception of time.
Traeonna is also my newest patron, which gets her an extra hurrah! She mentioned in the comment the benefit of this particular mantra:
…you know, when you learn to flow with chaos, it really does make things better in some ways. When I stopped flailing about, trying to fix, put out fires, whatever…and I just started to flow with the current, it didn’t make things easier, but it did make things just a bit less stressful as I spent my energy not fighting the current, but riding the waves and keeping myself from hitting large unmovable objects in my life.
It reminds me of many passages that spoke to me when I first read the Tao Te Ching, many years ago. It was hard at first to understand that what this idea of tao was; I kept trying to envision it as something like the Force from Star Wars. Eventually I learned that what I was doing was kind of like a fish swimming frantically through the ocean trying to find this thing called water.
And when I realized it, life became serene and effortless – for about two seconds. Which is pretty much how enlightenment works, I think.
Looking for Mantra Flow
I believe that the key to my difficulty with the daily mantras is in this idea of coming up with things that work with my nature, rather than fight against it. Looking at my list, there are all kinds of “I” statements:
- I can focus on creating wealth in my life
- I can build on my past to create the future I want
- I can choose my reactions to things that happen
…none of which are bad, but they don’t really have the same kind of resonance as Flow, don’t flail. Or even just “Flow“. On the other hand, one that did resonate better than the others was less about me and more about my world:
“Enough” is beautiful, possible, and fun.
This was intended as a reminder of Brené Brown’s ideas in Daring Greatly:
The counterapproach to living in scarcity is not about abundance. In fact, I think abundance and scarcity are two sides of the same coin. The opposite of ‘never enough’ isn’t abundance or ‘more than you could ever imagine.’ The opposite of scarcity is enough…(emphasis added)
The editor/copywriter in me looks at it and thinks that even my six-word mantra was overly verbose. Shortening it to “Enough” serves both as a reminder, an instruction, and a statement.
So for the next couple of weeks – a busy time, full of trips to Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City – I’m going to limit myself to one-word mantras that are not centered around myself. Instead they will be reminders of the world around me, the way things already are, with the hope that it will help me get more into the flow of my time, my work, and my life.
One word. Pop quiz time: what’s the one word that comes to mind when you think of your mantra? Share it in the comments!