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.