Positive and Cognitive Psychology are the branches that seem to be making it all relevant to your life. Scientists create exercises that are designed to change the way you think about things and thereby improve your experience in life without having anything actually changed. This should be the solid footing you need to go through life with a better perspective and ability to handle the inevitable emotional struggles that are a part of life.
Feeling good about what you have
As I mention in Quanology, research suggests that you’re better off not counting your blessings, but thinking about what your life would be like without the things you have. They call this counterfactual thinking. I couldn’t find any exercises on the internet, so I just created one here:
Sit back, close your eyes and think about something good in your life. What is it? Feel how nice it is to have that thing. Hopefully, it’s something personal, something like a good friend or family member. Otherwise, it’s an accomplishment – something you did that shows your ability or your virtue. Now how would it feel if that thing were no longer in your life? Where would you be? Take that feeling of emptiness and amplify it. Make it bigger. It should really suck without that thing.
Doing this should make sure appreciate some aspect of your life more than you currently do. For me, that thing is my family. Sometimes it’s a mess and I’m tired, grumpy, and complaining. But if I use this exercise, I see how amazing it is that I can intimately share my life with these fantastic people. We’ll have fun for many years to come. If I didn’t meet my wife and we didn’t work so hard to be together, who knows where I would be. I am most grateful for the efforts I put into marrying her and to creating this family, and for the work I do that continues to pay for it all. That’ll teach me the next time I complain about crumbs on the couch or dirty socks littered around the living room.
To help couples going through rough times, this little exercise helps them focus on the more positive aspects of their relationship. There will always be downsides to living together. Two people who are not exactly the same, who share slightly different goals will always have conflict. No problem. Your brain is a malleable lump of meat, remember? So steer it in the direction of “happy and grateful” to get a better experience in your relationship:
Focus on positive side
A note from the Anthony Robbins playbook. Whenever you’re in a rut because of some situation, ask yourself “what’s great about this”. Of course, you don’t want it there, but it is there and so grit your teeth and force yourself to come up with some positive slants. They may be bullshit, but your mind will treat them as real and it will provide a nice little pick me up when you have to deal with it.
Mirror a positive state
How did you feel when something great happened? Go back to that mental state and bring it back to where you are now. Feel the same and walk around like that same thing just happened. In doing so, you manipulate your emotions through superficial means. It is not something deep or getting at the root of anything, but it works. And then you ask the question “do I need to get so stuck in the root at all”? Maybe not. Why would you? It’s great to look at your past and make sense of it, but the goal should be to feel good now. And if rummaging through the past and bringing up painful memories is not helping, maybe you can stop. Instead, when you’re feeling down, remember when you were feeling up and bring it back to life.