Jon Acuff’s Soundtracks: Affirmations Can Save Your Life

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Soundtracks" by Jon Acuff. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why does Jon Acuff’s Soundtracks recommend practicing affirmations? How do positive affirmations motivate you?

According to Jon Acuff’s Soundtracks, affirmations act as a motivational tool to help you reach your goals. He provides strategies to help you form positive patterns that will stay with you even during the toughest of times.

Find out why positive affirmations are the boost you need to get things done.

Repeat Positive Thoughts Until They Become Patterns

Once you’ve settled on new positive thoughts, the final step is to repeat them until you internalize them. In Jon Acuff’s Soundtracks, affirmations are described as repeated positive thoughts that will help you avoid returning to old negative thoughts and becoming demotivated.

(Shortform note: In addition to helping you stay motivated, repetition can help you learn more effectively. Studies have shown that when you repeat an action, you learn more quickly and experience more positive feelings. In addition to the motivational effects Acuff describes, repeating positive thoughts and coupling them with action can help you acquire skills and build confidence at the same time.)

To demonstrate how repeating positive affirmations can impact your life, Acuff hired researcher Mike Peasley to measure the effectiveness of Acuff’s approach. In the study, participants who repeated positive phrases overwhelmingly felt that doing so helped them work toward their goals.

(Shortform note: While Acuff frequently cites the study conducted by Peasley as evidence for the effectiveness of his approach, it’s important to note that Peasley and Acuff never publicly published their research methods. As Ben Goldacre notes in Bad Science, when scientific studies don’t thoroughly explain the methods they used to reach their results, it casts a shadow of doubt over their findings. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Acuff and Peasley’s study was flawed. Rather, they simply haven’t given us enough information to evaluate it. According to Goldacre, in situations like these, it’s best to take research findings with a grain of salt until further research is published.)

Acuff recommends that you repeat your positive thoughts out loud each day to maximize their effectiveness. While doing this may feel awkward at first, Acuff argues that it will help you internalize positive beliefs about yourself and increase your confidence more quickly.

(Shortform note: Acuff’s belief in the benefits of talking to yourself aloud is backed up by scientific research. Studies have shown that talking to yourself aloud helps you focus on a task even more effectively than talking to yourself internally. While it may feel awkward, repeating positive thoughts out loud can help you function better.)

If you’re having trouble with this step, Acuff advises that you make a list of every success you experience, even small ones. Listing your successes can help you believe in yourself and in your positive thoughts, making it easier to feel confident repeating them.

(Shortform note: In addition to helping you believe in yourself, research shows that listing successes can help decrease stress. By writing down daily successes and celebrating them, you increase your sense of accomplishment, which lowers stress, making it easier to continue working toward your goals.)

Lastly, if you’re having trouble remembering and repeating your new thoughts, it can also help to create a physical symbol to remind you of them. There are countless possible examples—a piece of string tied around your finger or even a pair of lucky socks. Whatever symbol you choose, each time you see it, remember your commitment to positive thinking and to yourself, and it’ll help to keep you motivated.

(Shortform note: When choosing a physical object to remind you of your positive thoughts, it’s important to choose something that catches your eye. By choosing a bright and colorful object, you give your brain a visual cue that’s difficult to ignore. By contrast, if you choose a mundane object, you’re more likely not to notice it.)

Jon Acuff’s Soundtracks: Affirmations Can Save Your Life

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jon Acuff's "Soundtracks" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Soundtracks summary:

  • A guide to stop overthinking and start chasing your goals
  • Why human brains are wired for overthinking
  • How to repeat positive thoughts until they become patterns

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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