A Simple Mental Maneuver That Will Bring You Up

>> Saturday

Here's a simple question you can ask when your mind isn't otherwise engaged in something. Ask yourself, "What can I look forward to?" And don’t just ask it once. After you get an answer, ask yourself what else you could look forward to? And what else?

It helps you feel better and get more done when you have things to look forward to. And it's a fairly common mistake many of us make to actually have legitimate things to look forward to without looking forward to them because you’re too busy dealing with day-to-day problems.

That’s why this is a good question to ask. It lifts you out of your narrow focus, which is naturally dominated by a negative bias if left unchecked, and lets you look ahead to something pleasant.

You daydream sometimes anyway, right? While driving, showering, walking to and from places, closing your eyes at the end of the day. Take advantage of these brief moments and ask yourself what you can look forward to.

And don't ignore the small things in the short term. Go ahead and imagine the long-range big goals or events, but also think about the near future. When you get home from work, what is something you could look forward to, even a little? This weekend, what is one thing that will happen or that you can make happen that you can look forward to? Think about it, and then enjoy that nice feeling, even for a moment. It has a residual effect on your mood.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.


If Only We Could See Like This

>> Wednesday

Watch the video below showing what it would be like if we could "read the secret history of our enemies" as Longfellow put it. The video is four minutes, twenty-five seconds long and may just change the way you see the strangers in your life today.


Our Deep Need For Purpose

>> Saturday

"The need for meaning in life goes far beyond the mechanical techniques of selecting a goal to be achieved by positive thinking. If a person selects a goal just to satisfy the demands of others he will quickly revert back to self-defeating trap circuits. He will rapidly lose ambition, and though he may try to appear as if he is succeeding in what he is doing, he will feel miserable because he is not really committed to this objective. All the success seminars in the world will not make a potential Mozart or Monet content to be president of the Chase Manhattan Bank. Positive therapy strives to help people acquire a deeply positive orientation to living by enabling them to recover a long-buried dream or to implant firmly the roots of a new one. This need for deep personal meaning has been succinctly expressed by Friedrich Nietzsche: 'He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.' The phenomenon was directly observed by Viktor Frankl in Nazi concentration camps. Those prisoners who had a deeply rooted reason to survive — a meaningful project, a loving family — best withstood that prolonged torture without reverting to counterhuman patterns of behavior."

- Allen Wiesen, psychologist


Setting Your Course to Better Moods

>> Tuesday

Having a strong purpose is one of the best sources of good moods you can get. If you don't already have a strong purpose, how do you go about developing one?

A high-quality purpose is more than something you feel you "should" do. That isn't good enough. A good purpose is something you feel a strong desire to do, even feel compelled to do, and something you feel is important — something you think needs to be done and ought to be done because it is right and good. Or something you feel strongly interested in, something that fascinates you and fills you with interest and curiosity, or just plain ecstasy (as demonstrated by the great BB King in the picture).

If nothing comes to mind right now, that's not the end of the conversation. There is no such legitimate answer as, "I don't have one of those." Yes, you do. You may have forgotten it. You may never have dug deeply enough to find it in the first place. But you've got at least one. And all you need is one.

Most likely there was a time when you knew what your purpose was, at least in a general sense, but for one reason or another you discarded it; someone convinced you it was impossible or stupid, or you convinced yourself. It's now as if you've turned your back on it and are looking around saying, "I don't see any purpose I really want." No, of course not. It is behind you, so to speak. You've already picked it up, had it in your hand and then tossed it behind you where you are no longer looking.

Start right now with the assumption that there is a purpose which strongly compels you or strongly interests you, and commit yourself to finding it.

If you don't already have a purpose, now you have one: Finding it. What interests you? What do you like to talk about? What do you daydream about? What do you think needs to be done? What do you think "someone" ought to do? What do you "wish you could do" but know you can't?

A high quality purpose is concrete, challenging, and something you feel is achievable. That's where motivation is. That's where confidence is. That's where ability is formed. That's where the fun is.

In a study at the University of Alabama, researchers found that people who considered their goal difficult but achievable were more motivated — they were more energized and felt their goal was more important — than people who had easy goals or impossible goals.

People who thought their goal was easy weren't as motivated. And people who thought their goal was impossible weren't motivated either. Remember: difficult but achievable. Not achievable in some abstract sense, but something you feel you could achieve. And something you feel challenged by.

John French, Jr., director of the research project, did a study of 2,010 men in twenty-three different jobs, trying to find out which jobs were the most stressful. The study found something surprising. The most stressful jobs were the most boring and unchallenging. These were the jobs that produced the most physical and emotional illness.

Says French, "One of the key factors in job satisfaction is self-utilization — the opportunity to fully utilize your abilities on the job, to be challenged, to develop yourself. Frustration and anxiety over not being challenged can have physically debilitating effects."

A big, challenging goal, if you feel up to it, will awaken the genius within, bring out your latent talents, give you satisfaction, and make the world a better place.

Beethoven's goal was to create music that would "transcend fate." Socrates had a goal to make people happy by making them reasonable and just. These are big goals, but they brought out the best in these people and wrote their names in history.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.



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