What is Manifesting and Does it Work? 

Whether you see it as a solid self-help trend or just a buzzy piece of pop psychology, it’s hard to avoid the chatter around manifestation. From hip Gen X moms to millennials to celebrity baby boomers, manifesting seems to be the latest twist on positivity. If you hear someone holding court about how they made something good happen in their lives, they may end their conversation with, “I manifested it.” But what is manifesting – and does it really work?  

At its core, manifesting is the belief that you can in fact will something into being or happening, just by the power of your intense thoughts and actions. Typically, these manifestations revolve around good things like finding love, improving relationships, getting a promotion at work or even passing a test.  

Old roots

Manifesting as a mental practice has been around for a long time, but it’s seen a big surge of interest lately – maybe in part because many people are looking for something to put them on a happier track during the COVID-19 pandemic era. Despite its current trendy nature, the Washington Post says the idea of manifesting what you want has roots that reach back to old principles like the law of attraction – which suggests the universe will respond favorably to your dreams if you think positive thoughts. Similarly, it traces the thought line in “The Power of Positive Thinking,” a self-help book popular in the 1950s, and mirrors more recent claims in books like “The Secret.” 

Is manifesting real?

Some may tend to brush off all these claims about positive energy leading to positive results, but psychologists say there are some scientific kernels of truth to be found here. According to Psychology Today, research does show that someone with a “growth mindset” – or the ability to believe that you can grow and succeed – will likely be more successful in getting what they want because they are starting from a position in which they are open to positive possibilities. In a nutshell, people who really believe they can accomplish something are usually willing to work pretty hard to reach their goal, thus fulfilling their manifestation. 

Other research to support this shows: 

  • People with positive emotions are able to think more creatively 
  • Happiness can lead to success 
  • Positive people report having better relationships and attracting more opportunities 

How to get started

There is not one right way to start manifesting. It has a lot to do with what you are comfortable doing, and what’s easy to fit into your lifestyle. Maybe you only can find five minutes a day to start down the manifestation path. Others might carve out a half hour. Once you select something you want to manifest, create a rough outline in your head of the steps needed to reach that goal. Here are some ways to start manifesting your own path to greater happiness and success:  

  • Prayer or meditation: Quiet time praying for yourself and others can also shift into a time to think positively about what changes you want in your life – and how you plan to achieve them. 
  • Visualization: Create pictures in your mind. Think about how you want to achieve your goals, and what that will look like at each step of the journey. 
  • Verbal intentions: Say out loud what you want to accomplish. Develop a personal mantra around your manifestation. 
  • Manifest journal: Write down what you hope to will into being. Be precise. Detail each step.  


Photo credit: Getty Images

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