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What are Daily Affirmations?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Daily affirmations are a process of conscious thought or prayer that a person might repeat or affirm during the day. They are usually a sentence or two, which may be the same thought on a daily basis, or may be different. Books of daily affirmations for the year exist, and you may also find yourself in the process of a daily affirmation if you take certain contemplative exercise classes like yoga, or even work out at home with the aid of various exercise tapes. The idea of daily affirmations is that they tend to focus on a positive thought upon which you can dwell, which can uplift the mind, make you feel better about yourself, or help you feel supported by the divine.

Some therapists suggest daily affirmations to people who need to boost their self-esteem. One such method is mirror talk, which may be helpful to those who feel unappreciated or unloved. While facing a mirror, people say specific things like, “I love you,” or “You’re fine just the way you are.” For a person who is unused to loving him or herself, mirror talk can actually be a challenging exercise, but over time, it can yield a boost in self-esteem and a greater acceptance of the self.

Other groups use daily affirmations in the manner of short prayers. One quite common daily affirmation is espoused by Alcoholics Anonymous members in the form of the Serenity Prayer. This short prayer is for many people a mantra to help them deal with difficult circumstances and refrain from drinking. Instead of focusing on the self, it focuses on asking a higher power to give the person strength to change the things they can change, to accept the things they can’t change and “the wisdom to know the difference.” People just beginning in AA may use this affirmation not just daily, but as needed during the day.

You’ll find books of daily affirmations from virtually every religious background, and more increasingly, you may even find small affirmations on things like tea bags or Starbucks® coffee cups. Little statements that make you think or meditate for a moment on yourself, your life, the way of the world or your faith can all be suitable ways to affirm your existence, your essential worth, or your belief in the power of God.

Many people take daily affirmations quite seriously, and find that these moments of thoughtful concentration help keep them focused and balanced throughout the day. A certain portion of the world does mock the practice. The Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley, for instance, became famous for his daily affirmation “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” While this is a silly interpretation of the practice, it should be noted that things like praying daily, or boosting self esteem with a simple thought are not a bad thing, and may help people stay centered and focused on a positive approach to living.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon128206 — On Nov 18, 2010

I use affirmations to help me deal with everyday issues that come up. I feel better after reading my daily affirmation.

By sarahbenoit — On Aug 08, 2008

I have been using affirmations for years to deal with emotional behaviors and to facilitate changes in my beliefs and thought patterns. One great way to get in the habit of saying daily affirmations is to sing or chant them. There are even some people out there writing affirmation music. It makes the affirmations easier to remember and more fun to do on a regular basis.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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