I’m not sure the exact difference between mantras and clichés, except that mantras are a positive part of my life, refrains I find myself using repeatedly to help me move through sometimes-difficult situations.
Since some things broken cannot be fixed—an alcoholic parent, a narcissistic boss, “Accept what I cannot change” makes sense to me.
Clichés, however, tend to be trivial platitudes, used by bad writers and thoughtless politicians: “I’ll make you happy” or “Better safe than sorry.” Maybe, maybe not. Clichés seem to be for lazy people, willing to let other people think for them. When someone once told me, “God puts you on your back to make you look up,” I disagreed on two fronts. First, I don’t think God puts you on your back. Second, the fellow who recited this proverb appeared, at least to me, never to look up. They were just words, meaningless gibberish.
Mantras, though they also borrowed from others, become your own, after sometimes painful deliberation.
Here are mantras that make sense to me and that I call on occasionally:
- Accept what I cannot change.
- Be still.
- Blame is wasted energy.
- Breathe in. Breathe out.
- Do I need a new tool in my tool kit? If the old one is not working, Yes. (I like Dr. Phil’s, “How’s that working out for you?”)
- Fake it till you make it.
- Fear not.
- Feel what you feel when you feel it.
- First things first.
- Goal is progress, not perfection.
- A.L.T. (Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?)
- Happiness is an inside job.
- Have a sense of humor.
- How to let go? Over and over and over again.
- I can be right or I can be happy.
- I didn’t cause it. I can’t cure it. I can’t control it.
- I don’t have to go to every fight I’m invited to.
- I need to focus on my issues, not on someone else’s behavior.
- Keep coming back.
- Listen. Listen.
- Live every day as if it’s your last.
- Mind your own business.
- My level of serenity is directly proportional to my level of expectation.
- No! is a complete sentence with no explanation or justification required.
- Nobody is a mind reader, including me.
- Not my will, but Thine.
- One day at a time.
- Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
- Say what you mean and mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.
- Slow down.
- Take what you like and leave the rest.
- This too shall pass.
- Time takes time.
- What can I learn from this?
- Whose need are you meeting?