09/26/2012 02:26 pm ET | Updated Nov 26, 2012

The Real Benefit of Affirmations

Last week on CNN's Starting Point, Soledad O'Brien interviewed Joel Osteen on his new book, I Declare. During the interview, Soledad questioned the value that affirmations could really bring into one's life, particularly where hardcore issues are concerned, like resolving debt. Deepak Chopra was on the panel and he shared his ideas in support of affirmations, stating that "every thought actually generates molecules." After the interview, Soledad got a lot of attention on Twitter about her comments.

I'm a huge fan of affirmations. I believe, quite simply, they help define your focus. And defining your focus is the best first step when you're trying to accomplish any goal.

I get Soledad's doubt about affirmations. I do. I mean, you can't sit in your living room affirming you have gas in your car, and then walk out to your driveway expecting to find gas in your car. Perhaps someone might be able to manifest that, I guess. Me, I still find myself driving to the gas station to make that happen.

But you can begin to define your focus for the things you want to see in your life. In fact, you should. The mind wanders -- a lot, and not always to ideas that support our goals. Once you set a goal to lose weight, the mind easily begins to drift to all the times when you tried and failed. I don't think that's because our minds are inherently negative, but perhaps protective.

Like a well-meaning but overprotective parent who doesn't want to see us disappointed again, the mind warns us of all the times when we tried once before but didn't succeed. Unfortunately, those warnings tend to dictate our future behavior and limit our willingness to try, as opposed to helping us succeed.

So, we have to deliberately define our focus.

If we set our sights on what we want in the future, our mind will set itself on the idea that what we want is in tomorrow. And, as Annie so eloquently put it, "Tomorrow is always a day away." So, we have to bring our focus into today, as though our goals have already been realized.

I am wealthy and debt-free, I'm an excellent money manager. I let go of limiting conditions and relationships, I let go and trust.

As we define what is, if only with our thoughts, our attention follows. Our creative mind begins to look for the reality that matches our thoughts, and we begin to naturally notice the opportunities that can help lead us to our goals. It's kind of like the day your car has tire trouble. Suddenly you're looking for a tire store and you notice one in your neighborhood, which you can't remember seeing before even though you pass it every day. When you define your focus, you begin to notice solutions in response.

Affirmations refine your focus, help to generate creativity and, if you involve a spiritual element, they can even help to inspire real blessings. I mix my affirmations with prayer and I can't count the number of times I've begun doing that and have seen my goals come to pass shortly thereafter. You can literally begin to feel a shift into possibility when you begin affirming.

As Buddha said, "What we think, we become." So, we might as well define and refine our thoughts, deliberately.

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