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'Lucky Girl Syndrome': The Science Behind TikTok's New Trend That Rewires Your Brain

Here's how positive affirmations can change your mindset to create a happier outlook on life.

Woman wearing sunglasses standing in front of a blue background with her arms out.
Santiago Iñiguez/EyeEm/Getty Images

"I'm a lucky girl." "Only good things happen to me." Or at least that's what I've been telling myself since I came across TikTok's latest viral hashtag, Lucky Girl Syndrome, which has over 195 million views. 

The concept is simple: Tell yourself you're lucky -- so lucky that only good things happen to you. Then all your dreams come true!

Alright, that might be a stretch. However, thousands of people across TikTok have posted videos about how this manifestation strategy has changed their lives, bringing them new opportunities they never expected. Manifestation is the concept of thinking things into being -- by believing something enough, it will happen. 

While you can't lucky girl yourself into winning the lottery, you can use this technique to modify your beliefs and eliminate the negativity bias that no longer serves you. Here's what to know about positive affirmations and how they can improve your self-esteem and elevate your mental health.

Does Lucky Girl Syndrome really work?

Lucky Girl Syndrome isn't a new concept. It's a system of positive affirmation and uses some of the principles used in cognitive behavioral therapy -- which says that your thoughts, emotions and behaviors are all connected and influence each other. 

CBT teaches that negative thinking is learned and, therefore, can be changed. All you have to do is accept that negatively interpreting situations impact your feelings and actions. Then make an effort to approach things with a positive mindset. That's what Lucky Girl Syndrome is tapping into. 

By telling yourself that you're lucky and only the best things happen to you, you start to feel more confident and happy. Then as your perception changes, your behavior follows.

The catch is you have to connect positive feelings to what you're saying. It's not enough to say it; you have to feel it. Attaching positive feelings to information creates happy neural pathways in the brain, which ultimately leads to behavior change. The stronger those neural pathways are, the easier it will be to feel happy and confident. 

Research has shown that self-affirmations have several mental health benefits:

  • Boosting confidence and self-esteem
  • Making you feel in control 
  • Elevating mood and overall happiness
  • Decreasing stress
  • Increased motivation for solutions 
  • Improved memory
Two friends laughing while outside.
Tim Robberts/Getty Images

Common positive affirmations to improve your mental health

You need to find an affirmation (or list of affirmations) that works for you -- not everyone is a lucky girl. Your affirmation can be anything. However, it's best to make them as specific to you and your values as possible. Bumper-sticker affirmations are harder to find meaning in. 

Tips for creating your affirmation:

  • Focus on positive language: You want your affirmations to be as empowering as possible. Instead of saying, "I won't fail again," say, "I will succeed."
  • Use present tense: Affirmations used in the present tense are more grounding and effective. For example, say, "I am at peace," rather than "I will be at peace."
  • Keep them short and to the point: A good affirmation is short and sweet. Try to make your affirmation as concise as possible. 

4 ways to use positive affirmations for mental health 

Let's talk about how to make affirmations work for you. Remember, they aren't magic and won't solve every situation. However, they're a useful tool to navigate difficult times and boost your happiness

Practice using them

Once you find which affirmations you want to use, be intentional about thinking positively while you say them. They won't mean anything if you just say them, associating positive feelings with them is essential. 

Practicing daily affirmations can be a little weird at first, but stick with it. If you don't want to stare at yourself in the mirror and say them out loud, try repeating them in your head or writing them on a sticky note you look at. Some even use voice memos that they can listen to. 

Try saying your affirmations when you get up and go to sleep to start. Then start using them more often as you get more comfortable. 

Be realistic 

Affirmations can boost your confidence and help you lead a happier life, though it doesn't happen overnight. You should expect it to be a process, and your affirmations should reflect that. Focus on your growth, not the result, to avoid disappointment and burnout. 

Limiting your affirmations to one goal at a time is also a good idea. That way, you don't overwhelm yourself with too many things to achieve. 

Young woman sitting on her living room floor while meditating.
Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

Combine affirmations with other self-help strategies

As we've mentioned, affirmations don't mean much without positive thinking. However, you can add other self-help strategies to strengthen your affirmations. Use goal-setting and visualization to hone your affirmations and ensure they aid you on your wellness journey. 

Additionally, you can practice your affirmations while you use breathing exercises to take it to the next level. Breathwork has been shown to lower anxiety and improve cognitive function. You can also add affirmations to your meditation sessions

Don't fall into toxic positivity 

This may be where some people are taking Lucky Girl Syndrome a little too far. Affirmations should never cause you to deny reality. That's not a healthy way to cope. 

Make sure your affirmations acknowledge your situation and empower you to navigate it. Avoiding negative feelings doesn't deal with them. Affirmations only work if you can believe them and find meaning within them. If you don't, you'll bombard yourself with toxic positivity that may make you feel worse.

Too long; didn't read?

Lucky Girl Syndrome isn't just a trend; it's also known as an affirmation by everyone not on TikTok. Affirmations are a valid wellness tool to reframe your thinking, feelings and behavior. No, they aren't magic wishes, but they're small things that can make a big difference in your self-esteem and happiness

Remember, make your affirmations as specific as possible to you, keep them short and stick with them. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.