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Written Affirmations

Scott Adams is a world famous cartoonist. He is also a firm believer in written affirmations. In his book ‘The Dilbert Future’, he has written about his experiences with them.

  • Says Adams, The idea behind writing affirmations is that you simply write down your goals 15 times a day and somehow, as if by magic, coincidences start to build until you achieve your objective against all odds.

    Prior to my Dilbert success, I used affirmations on a string of hugely unlikely goals that all materialized in ways that seemed miraculous.

    Some of the successes you can explain away by assuming I’m hugely talented and incredibly sexy, and therefore it is no surprise that I accomplished my goals despite seemingly long odds.But some of my goals involved neither hard work nor skill of any kind.

    I succeeded with those too, against all odds. Those are harder to explain, at least for me, since the most common explanation is that they are a delusion.

    I found my experience with affirmations fascinating and puzzling, and so I wrote about it.

In his first attempt he did not get admission to the M.B.A. course he desired. Not only that, he got very poor marks in the admission test.

He had read about affirmations and had some knowledge about them. So he wrote an affirmation that he scored a certain number of marks (he wrote the exact marks) in the admission test and got admitted to the course.

He wrote this affirmation 15 times daily for six months. He writes that somehow his study methods changed, he worked harder and got nearly the same number of marks he had predicted.

He finally got admitted to the M.B.A. course.

Later on when he was doing a job, he wanted to be a cartoonist. He sent his cartoons to many newspapers, but was rejected everywhere.

He then wrote the following affirmation:

I, Scott Adams, am a successful syndicated cartoonist.

He wrote this 15 times daily for more than six months. Circumstances arranged themselves in such a way that a few months later he got his first break as a cartoonist. He first published his Dilbert cartoon in 1989.

He continued writing his affirmations and the result was as follows: he was published by 100 newspapers in 1991 and 400 by 1994. By 2000 his Dilbert comic strip appeared in 2000 newspapers in 57 countries and 19 languages. Scott Adams attributes his success in large part to written affirmations.

  • Adams further says, My best guess about what really happens when you use these positive statements is that several normal phenomena come together to create what seems abnormal.

    I think part of the mystery of affirmations has to do with the fact that it improves your ability to notice an opportunity. And when you do, it seems like a lucky coincidence.

    In my case, about half of my seemingly miraculous results with affirmations could be traced back to my noticing something important.

    I’m not sure if optimism is what inspires a person to go through the effort of written affirmations, or if the affirmations cause the optimism. But in either case you would expect that people who are writing them would more readily notice opportunities than the average non-optimist.

One advantage of written affirmations is that it helps you focus on your goals. Writing implies you are willing to invest yourself. You are making a commitment.

According to Scot Adams, trying affirmations for less than six months is probably futile.

Here is his final take on them:

If all of your friends told you that they win money on the slot machines whenever they stick their fingers in their own ears, would you try it? Or would you assume that since there is no obvious reason it could work, it’s not worth the effort?

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