Putting Visual Mantra to Work For You: Mandy Straight at TEDxMileHigh (Transcript)

So let me give you three steps to create your own visual mantra. First, determine the messages you are already sending yourself. See how they feel to you and really listen. Maybe you actually hate that old chair in the corner from your great aunt. Maybe every time you look at it, it tells you mean and nasty things just like she used to. Don’t let her talk to you that way.

Number two: define the mantras that you want to create. What is it you want to hear every day? Pay attention as you interact with things to what creates that feeling within you. Pay attention to the colors, and patterns, and shapes you interact with. If you’re like me, that means gorgeous mid-century modern furniture, nerdy wool plaids and tweeds, and French accordion music on the stereo. So, the weirder, the better with all of your mantra selections. You want to find those quirky things that make you, you, and include those in your mantra.

Finally, you want to delete anything that does not further your mantra, and when you have to add, make sure that it does. Take a cue from textile designer William Morris, who said, “Have nothing in your home you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” We have come to the crux of why this theory is so important. We all have areas in our lives that can be improved through the use of visual mantra. I have personally seen the transformative power it can offer.

I lived two thirds of my life in deep depression, despising my interiors, so I had to learn to redecorate. In here, and in here I had to learn to transform my spaces into something that reminded me the wonderful things about my life that I enjoyed spending time in. Through this process, I realized that as I became more at home in myself, I became more at home in my surroundings, and vice versa. When I was young, I moved my furniture around weekly, I drew on the walls in the closet, and I plastered my room with photos of milk mustache ads as motivational messages.

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As I got older, I moved away to college, away to Paris, and away to the East Coast, trying to change the mantra of my location, each time reminded that I thrive on the natural visual mantra that Colorado has to offer. I realized through this process that if we can be intentional about these messages, we can truly transform who we are in our everyday life. This theory is not just about learning to paint the closet door to better hide the skeletons of our negative thoughts. It’s about opening that closet door, making friends with the skeletons, and maybe teaching them a Broadway show tune or two with jazz hands.

So I won’t promise you that visual mantra can make 100% of your life magical. It won’t. But it can offer a perspective. It can make the tough times a lot easier to face, and at the very least, it can stop making us victim to unintentional spaces. Don’t let go of your belief in magic. Fill every frame of your life with images that inspire better.

Winston Churchill said, “We shape our spaces; thereafter, they shape us.” One of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl, says, “If you don’t believe in magic, you will never find it.” I say, shape your spaces with intention, believe that they can be magic, and watch the power of visual mantra transform your life. Thank you.

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