2. Setbacks Will Happen; They’re Inevitable.
You’ll bang your foot, you’ll get a ticket, a loved one will get sick, etc. So, wishing them away or dreading them simply causes more suffering. There’s an attractive alternative. Projective visualization is when you imagine a recent setback actually happening to someone else.
Let me clarify too that this doesn’t mean wishing it happens to someone else, just imagining it for a few moments. This helps us get distance from our pain because others’ misfortune is more palatable than our own. It really can take the edge off our own pain and see it more objectively; helping us see the forest instead of fixating on the trees.
If a close friend had a setback, what would you tell them? How would you feel about what happened to them? It would seem more manageable and not as bad, right? This, in fact, is the “witnessing perspective” that we cultivate in mindfulness meditation.
It’s also the root of loving-kindness meditation, in which we deliberately cultivate feelings of compassion and wellness for all. This is also similar to video-game framing, in which you imagine a setback like you’re in a video game, and it’s a test of your resilience and strength—an enticing challenge to overcome.
3. Adopt The Story-Telling Frame.
Let’s be honest. Life is boring without any setbacks or challenges. When misfortune strikes, which it inevitably will, instead of brooding and ruminating on it, you can document it, as carefully as you can, in a journal or free association format (written or with spoken audio techs such as Siri or Google).
Setbacks and misfortune, ironically, make great stories. Humans have a unique affinity for stories; some of the best books and movies originate from this mental hack.
4. Savor Your Happiest Moments.
You can learn to put a smile in your mind by merely considering the happiest moments of your life or those of your loved ones. This takes a few minutes, and you can make it one of the best meditations in your life. Choose a joyous specific moment and imagine it visually, then access what you were hearing and feeling as well to engage all five senses to deepen it enough and savor your joy.
You can also picture your loved one’s smile in your mind, as well as literally hold your own smile. An additional hack: Holding a smile actually tricks our brain into being even happier (even if you know this!).
Related: From Mindfulness To Meaningfulness
5. Embody The “Last Time” Frame.
The sobering truth is that there will be a “last time” you do everything. I mean everything. With this in mind, even the most unpleasant and mundane tasks, such as cleaning your bathroom, being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or taking out the trash, can have a precious and poignant flavor to them. Slow down and enjoy them, at least a little; you may miss them later on.
The truth is that your life can look like a miracle, or you can endlessly find ways it can be better. The difference comes down to learning new and easy habits to lower your hedonic set-point and wire your brain toward happiness. Which do you prefer?
Copyright Jason Linder, LMFT. This post is not meant to substitute for psychotherapy with a competent provider.
Written By Jason N. Linder Originally Appeared On Psychology Today