Most yogis and meditators know that happiness isn’t some magical state of being that happens once a certain set of circumstances is met. Lasting happiness doesn’t come from external events, and basing your happiness on other people or life circumstances simply sets you up for a lifelong emotional rollercoaster.
Mantras are an excellent tool to help you develop a habit of happiness. These inspirational words or phrases have the power to inspire happiness from within, especially when life gets tough.
What is a Mantra?
In the most traditional sense, a mantra is a particular sound or phrase chanted during meditation to create an altered state of consciousness. Buddhist and Hindu traditions teach that mantras use specific sound vibrations to create spiritual energy for healing and creativity. These specific vibrations are capable of connecting practitioners with a particular deity or with the divine.
Outside these religious contexts, a mantra is essentially an object of concentration you can use during meditation—or anywhere else—to focus your mind and generate a sense of spiritual power. You don’t have to limit yourself to Om or Aum, either; any meaningful word or phrase can be your mantra, as long as it inspires you and resonate with you on a spiritual and emotional level.
It can be a line from a song, an inspirational quote, or even something your best friend said to you once over coffee. If this phrase or sound makes you feel centered and powerful, it counts as a mantra. If you’re not sure where to start, practice with the mantras below until you find one—or several—that awakens your spirit.
1. My worth does not depend on others. I am valuable simply for being me.
2. Suffering is temporary, and it will get better.
3. I am not my thoughts; I am not my moods.
4. Each day is a new beginning.
5. Every mistake is a chance to learn.
6. Growth is not linear; my setbacks are not failures.
7. Happiness begins with an open heart.
8. I am always growing and learning.
9. Change what you can and make peace with what you can’t.
10. Happiness is an act of courage.
Silencing Your Inner Critic
Mantras are often used during meditation because they can act like an anchor to keep you grounded in the present; if you find your thoughts wandering to the past or planning for the future, you can simply re-focus your attention on your mantra.
The reason mantras are so powerful is that they shut down automatic thoughts, especially negative ones. Everyone struggles with the little mental voice that sneaks in to remind you of your failures and flaws. Mantras can act like a volume button for the nasty little voice in your head. When you catch yourself listening to your inner critic, repeating your mantra to quiet harmful thoughts and give you something positive to focus on instead.
Using mantras to silence your inner critic will undoubtedly take some practice. First, you must identify your negative automatic thoughts and the situations that trigger them. The next step is to practice using your mantra to shut the thought down and replace it with self-love and positivity. With enough repetition, mantras create a feedback loop that can rewire your brain, replacing negative feelings with positive associations of the mantra.
If you’re in an especially dark place and your mantra just doesn’t feel true in that moment, repeat it anyway. Repeat it again and again until it doesn’t even sound like words anymore. With practice, your mantra will become a part of who you are, creating a place inside yourself that inspires true and lasting happiness.