Affirmations in a Time of Uncertainty

Steve Pepple
4 min readJan 22, 2017


Whether you are worried about the state of liberal democracy or the earth’s fragile climate, you may find yourself having frequent moments of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). I’d become self-aware of my own anxiety earlier this year — and that was just before the U.S. election!

Credit: Harli Marten

In 2016, I struggled with anxiety and uncertainty, I realized I need to embrace change. I’ve been trying a daily process of mediating, reflecting, journaling, and remembering messages of hope. You could call this mantras, incantation, or inspiration quotes, but to me it is a short and simple list of affirmations to read and repeat when you need to calm your mind or find inspiration.

As I’ve changed what I pay attention to each day, I’ve witnessed many small acts of kindness during the holidays and new year. And I’ve talked with folks who’ve been awoken by politics and world events. These moments inspired me and made me wonder what the world would be like if people could go to this well of courage, patience, kindness, and goodness throughout the year.

I’ve tried to avoid squishy platitudes, but rather pithy and practical insights that are true. These are reminders of the qualities of mind that we need to fight, do what we believe is good, and to reduce suffering in a changing world.


“I am happy and content in this moment”

“Not matter what changes, I remain calm and centered.”

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns,
or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

— Abraham Lincoln

“When we can no longer change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.”

— Viktor Frankl

“We need to do what we can as calmly as we can
where we can for as long as we can.”

Christopher Cokinos, Professor of English

“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”

― Maya Angelou

I accept the things I cannot change,
I have courage to change the things I can,
I have wisdom to know the difference.

— Reinhold Niebuhr, Serenity Prayer

“While you can’t always control what happens to you, you can always control how you respond to it”

“This Too Shall Pass.”


“The most common way people give up their power
is by thinking they don’t have any.”

— Alice Walker

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”


“The time is always ripe to do right.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Without hope there is no action.
Without action there is no hope

—Ernst Bloch

“I change my thoughts,
I change my world.”

— Norman Vincent Peale

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”

― Maya Angelou

“I’m too positive to be doubtful,
too optimistic to be fearful
and too determined to be defeated.”

— Unknown

“What am I living for and what am I dying for are the same question.”

― Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

“I am that I am”


“Everything in the world begins with a thought. My thoughts are those of peace.”

“Today I let go of fear. I embrace simplicity, peace, and love.”

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

— Dali Lama

“Love is the only miracle there is.”

— Osho

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

— Guatama Budda

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”

— Dali Lama

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact…
that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit,
which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance;
We’ve learned to fly the air like birds,
we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish,
and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters…”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Peace begins with a smile..”

Mother Teresa

“I choose peace.”


“The obstacle is the path”

“When they go low, you go high”

— Michelle Obama

“Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender,
a power you don’t have to throw away.
And though hope can be an act of defiance,
defiance isn’t enough reason to hope.
But there are good reasons.”

— Rebecca Solnit

“I believe in the magic and authority of words.”

― René Char

“I will not have my life narrowed down.
I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.”

― bell hooks

“Protest is when I say I don’t like this.
Resistance is when I put an end to what I don’t like.
Protest is when I say I refuse to go along with this anymore.
Resistance is when I make sure everybody else stops going along too.”

— Ulrike Marie Meinhof

“The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community.”

— Susan Sontag

“I will fight for good with strength in my heart and clarity in my mind.”

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Steve Pepple

Co-founder of Vibemap. I write about data, cities, transit, and local government.