Best of lifehack

If you want to pump up your optimism, you might:
  • Write about a positive future. The idea is to envision your goals and dreams come true. Tips include:
  • Write about your great future life. Writing helps you absorb ideas better than just thinking.
  • Set aside time so you can go into detail. Researcher Laura King, PhD, who proved this exercise a great mood booster, assigned 20 minutes on four consecutive days.
  • A variation on this exercise is to imagine positive outcomes in a particularly challenging situation.
  • Search for the silver lining. Looking for the positive in a negative situation may sound sappy, but it can actually show great strength. To find your silver lining, ask yourself:
  • How have I grown from this situation?
  • Are my relationships stronger now?
  • Have I developed new skills?
  • What am I proud of about the way I handled this situation?
  • Practice Gratitude
  • Noticing and appreciating the positives in our lives offers a great mood boost.
  • To increase your gratefulness, you can:
  • Write a gratitude letter. Researcher Martin Seligman, Ph.D., asked subjects to write a letter thanking someone who had been particularly kind to them and then delivers it in person. The letter-writers enjoyed impressive positive effects even a month later.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Write down anything large or small that makes you smile, including terrific achievements, touching moments and great relationships.
  • Share your good news. Studies of people’s reactions to positive developments suggest that those who tell a friend about a happy event enjoy it even more.
  • Avoid Negative Thinking
  • If you want to feel positive, it pays to decrease the downers in your life. With practice, you can resist worrisome thoughts and perhaps even transform your internal critic into more of a cheering squad.
  • Avoid dwelling on downers. Focusing on negatives isn’t just unpleasant, it also can make you less effective in tackling tasks you face. In a study of test-takers, those who fixated on worrisome thoughts performed worse than those who were distracted from their worries. To stifle your obsessing:
  • Ask yourself if the issue is really worth your energy. Will this issue matter in a year, for example?
  • Tell yourself you’ll worry about it at a specific time later. Chances are you’ll feel better by the appointed time.
  • Instead of just spinning your worry wheels, try a concrete problem-solving exercise.
  • Distract yourself: Go to a movie, pump up some music, find something fun to do.
  • Change unhealthy self-talk. You may have been running negative messages in your head for a long time. But research shows that you can learn to shift your thoughts and that, over time, you can literally change your brain. Consider trying some techniques from cognitive-behavioral therapy, which works in part by looking at how changing your thoughts can change your life.

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