How to get closer to your best possible self?
Updated: Jul 1
If you are following me on IG, you are familiar with my weekly feature “Tuesday Two Twenty – take a break to read”. This week’s focus is on daring to dream, which made me remember a series of exercises in the book The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirski. If happiness is a value for you, it is worth to look up the book for a list of exercises, suiting various personal preferences. Below I describe one, that has immediate benefits as well as the possibility of turning it into a regular routine.
Optimism does not only mean positive thoughts about self- and life management. It also includes making a constructive change, turning these thoughts into reality. In a study led in the University of Missouri, Faculty of Columbia participants were asked to engage in an exercise, that took twenty minutes in four consecutive days. They had the task of imagining the best possible future for themselves, in various areas of life, within the next 5-10 years, and write down, what it meant for them, to live the life in which all their dreams come true. As an example, they might have written about living with a constructive, loving partner; raising two kids; driving a certain type of car; traveling to specific countries for vacation; working as head chef in a popular restaurant of downtown; playing basketball twice a week with a couple of friends etc. Writing down whatever they thought their dream life included, as if it was already their daily reality.
Those, who completed the 4 days and truly put their dreams to paper, got into a more positive mood right away. They felt happier even weeks later, when they had to fill in a post-exercise survey. Many of the participants continued voluntarily, and kept writing about their best self, as often as they felt for it, multiple times of the week, on the long run.
Placing themselves into the future, and writing down, how they are enjoying the results of their hard work became a regular habit of many, contributing to their positive outlook, balance, wellbeing - all together, wholesomeness.
Beyond imagining an ideal future for yourself, which as said, contributes to your day to day positivity in itself; this exercise helps to realize, that taking actions and progressing towards your dreams are entirely up to you. There are many factors and circumstances in life beyond your planning. Building constructive habits, such as regular writing about your best self, is however within your control. It also helps to realize, that while I use the words “dreaming” and “dreams” in this post, this exercise is not about fantasies and daydreaming – it much rather leads to self-reflection, the understanding of what you truly value, what makes you truly happy, how does life as a whole look like & what is the meaning and purpose of it all. Regular writing also contributes to organizing your thoughts, reflect on experience, discover patterns, create order.
Does this exercise sound like something you would like to try?