What if you spent 15 minutes today, Tuesday, and Wednesday writing about the same thing, with only tiny variations? Exciting, huh?!
What if I told you that people who complete the three days of writing have measurably improved wellbeing and are statistically likely to be happier and more hopeful about the future? Bear in mind, these positive effects have been shown to last well beyond these three days – for weeks and months to come. Are you more motivated? I hope so!
Since 2001, psychologists have been measuring the effectiveness of the Best Possible Self (BPS) exercise invented by Laura King, Professor of Psychology at the University of Missouri. This exercise has been delivered in slightly different ways (sometimes with visualization or gratitude practices and for slightly different lengths of time), but it always involves writing for 10-15 minutes each day over three or four days, imagining one’s best possible self in the future after everything has gone as well as it possibly could.
Instructions for this exercise from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley follow:
“Use the instructions below to help guide you through this process.
It may be easy for this exercise to lead you to examine how your current life may not match this best possible future. You may be tempted to think about ways in which accomplishing goals has been difficult for you in the past, or about financial/time/social barriers to being able to make these accomplishments happen. For the purpose of this exercise, however, we encourage you to focus on the future—imagine a brighter future in which you are your best self and your circumstances change just enough to make this best possible life happen.
This exercise is most useful when it is very specific—if you think about a new job, imagine exactly what you would do, whom you would work with, and where it would be. The more specific you are, the more engaged you will be in the exercise and the more you’ll get out of it.
Be as creative and imaginative as you want, and don’t worry about grammar or spelling.”
Part 1 (12 minutes): Think about your life in the future. Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. You have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing all of your life goals. Consider all of the relevant areas of your life, such as your career, relationships, hobbies, spiritual aspirations, and health. Think of this as the realization of all your life dreams. Now write continuously about what you imagine this best possible future to be.
Part 2 (3 minutes): What does this tell you about who you want to become and where you are headed? Jot down some ideas and notes.
"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint."
– Isaiah 40:31
Wishing you joy in this moment and in the anticipation of a good future,