A very special tree grows at Penn. Though this tree isn’t filled with leaves. This tree is filled with notecards containing written affirmations. Student Elana Burack, a recent graduate of Penn, is its creator. According to Penn Today, the idea was planted when Burack was reminded of the affirmations she used in middle school. She decided to decorate her dorm room with them. Later, she would be inspired to make those affirmations a more public project and the seeds of the Affirmation Tree were planted.
The Affirmation Tree, a combination of wire, concrete and paper, has toured the expansive campus, collecting affirmations along the way. It even has its own Facebook page.
Burack told Penn Today, “One of the reasons I wanted to do it is Penn is just a very intense, fast-paced, and sometimes competitive environment, and I think we rarely pause and say something positive to ourselves,” she says. “I wanted to give people a space to do that.”
A fellow Penn student, Michele Cossette, truly appreciates the importance of the tree. Cossette recently told The Daily Pennsylvanian, “I do think that when you say something to yourself, about yourself, or a goal you have for yourself, if you say it out loud or write it down you’re more likely to believe it, and to make sure that it can come true.”
And there is science to back that.
First, there is the power of self-affirmations. The general theory behind affirmations is that they are designed to encourage an optimistic mindset, which can pave the way to decreased stress and increased resilience. There is a growing body of research that suggests self-affirmations can be beneficial.
Then there is the added power of writing those affirmations down.
Using affirmations is a form of learning, and that is where paper is instrumental. Putting your affirmations down on paper will increase the power of those affirmations by encouraging you to focus on the affirmations and process the meaning of them. Most importantly, the act of writing down the affirmations helps you to remember those affirmations.
Burack, who graduated this past spring, hopes the tree will continue to live on at campus long after she is gone. As she told Penn Today, “I want people to not just engage in self-affirmations as they’re writing their notecard, but see it as a resource they can take with them throughout life.”
Perhaps now is a great time to take inspiration from Burack and plant your own tree by putting pen to paper and writing down your affirmations. It is not that difficult. When writing your affirmations just remember a few helpful tips -- Medium.com recommends that you make them personal, keep them short, and most importantly, be positive.
What you will be left with is a tree that remains evergreen with notes of motivation, inspiration and healing.