Mind & Body

What Is Manifesting – And Can It Change Your Life?

From landing your dream job to increasing your earnings or finding the perfect partner – could a vision board be the secret to the life you’ve always wanted? MALENA HARBERS shares how our thoughts really can impact our daily lives


What is manifesting?

According to Dr. Tara Swart, a neuroscientist, medical doctor and lecturer at MIT Management Sloan School and King’s College London, manifesting is about creating a vision of what you want your life to look like – or things that you want in your life – and taking action to make these desires come true. At a time when we’re multitasking 24/7, the practice of manifesting essentially brings clarity and focus to our daily lives.

So how do I start?

Before you start manifesting, Dr. Swart stresses that it’s key to be clear and authentic about your desires. “That’s because the reason your desires often don’t work out is because they’re not what you really want,” she says. “There are a lot of people who think they’re in a certain job, for instance, because of everyone else’s actions. Instead, you need to sit back and think, ‘Is this what I really want?’ That’s the path towards manifesting.”

How does manifesting work?

Initially, manifesting was all about putting your thoughts out into the universe to receive your desires in return, but there’s actually a science to positive thinking that has nothing to do with the universe. According to Swart, you can either be thoughtless about what you’re exposing your brain to and what it’s seeing as important, or you can train your brain to focus on what you believe is important in your life. This training is a mix of three different neurological processes that all interact to get the results we want. “Selective filtering is when your brain filters out information it doesn’t deem to be important to survival. By manifesting, you’re saying to your brain that these things are actually important to you. So, if I notice a promotion opportunity at work, remind me to go for it; if I see a cute guy in the queue, encourage me to smile at him,” says Swart. Selective attention is the idea that you actually notice these things around you that can lead to the results you desire. “Finally, value tagging is quite simply tagging what’s important to you in your brain,” notes Swart. “It’s a way of priming our emotions so we’re more motivated to go towards the things we want.”

Do I need any tools?

“A vision board – a collage of images, pictures and words to affirm your goals – is helpful, but I prefer to call it an action board because you must also take action,” says Swart. “You can’t just sit at home and create a fantasy and expect that making the board will make your fantasy come true.” She suggests putting the board by your bed. “This way, you’re seeing it every day, and that’s priming your brain to grasp onto the real opportunities that will lead you to your vision.” Don’t forget a little balance, too. “I always leave some space on my board so that I’m not defined – because other things come up that you might not have thought of. Trust and patience are a big part of manifesting, and believing that your vision will happen can help to reduce anxiety and overthinking.” If you’re looking for other ways to get started with manifesting, try an app, such as The Manifesting App, which guides you with helpful steps and offers a daily motivational quote to serve as a constant reminder for your brain to re-focus on the goals you’ve made.

How do I know if it’s working?

Part of manifesting is acknowledging that you’re achieving at least some of your goals, however small. “The more you tell yourself that you’ve got the things you wanted, the more it motivates your brain to keep going,” says Swart. The key here is to start small and build up to bigger manifestations. “It’s the same reason that New Year resolutions don’t work: people make these lofty goals that are difficult to achieve. They fail because they don’t work, so they give up.” Instead, if you can make and achieve smaller life goals, your resolutions are more likely to gather momentum.


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