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When we imagine our best possible selves in our relationships, we feel more motivated to achieve our goals and a greater sense of control over our lives. This week, Dacher leads a visualization exercise in preparation for the new year.
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How to Do This Practice:
Today’s Happiness Break host:
- Find a comfortable place to begin the practice. Take deep breaths.
- Focus on the person you are in a romantic relationship with, or a dear friend. Bring an image of them to mind, like how they look and their mannerisms.
- Imagine your life in the future, and how you would like to be the best version of yourself in your relationship with them. Picture yourself interacting with them — what is happening? What are you doing and saying? What is the tone of the interaction?
- Repeat this exercise by focusing on friendships and familial relationships. Take note of any common actions across all relationships that you would like to take. Set an intention about how you will interact within your relationships in the new year.
- When you’re done, reground yourself in the present moment, focusing on the sensations in your body.
Dacher Keltner is the host of the award-winning podcast, The Science of Happiness and is a co-instructor of the GGSC’s popular online course of the same name. He’s also the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and a professor of psychology at the UC, Berkeley.
Check out Dacher’s most recent book, Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life: https://tinyurl.com/4j4hcvyt
More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:
How to Find Your Best Possible Self (The Science of Happiness Podcast): https://tinyurl.com/265b34pj
How Thinking About the Future Makes Life More Meaningful: https://tinyurl.com/24mex4by
10 Pillars of a Strong Relationship:https://tinyurl.com/3zffc8x4
For the New Year, Try Imagining Your Best Possible Life: https://tinyurl.com/4carr6kv
We love hearing from you! How do you plan to be your best possible self in the new year? Email us at email@example.com or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
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We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner: Welcome to Happiness Break, a series by the Science of Happiness, where we take a break in our day to do practices shown by science to support our wellness and that of those around us. I’m Dacher Keltner.
When we regularly envision our best possible selves, our biomarkers of stress decrease. We feel more satisfied in general with life, and we become more socially connected.
So today I’ll lead us through a guided contemplation practice. Where we’ll imagine our best possible selves in 2024, in particular within the rich dimensions of our social lives.
Today’s practice is based on an influential study by psychologist Laura King.
When students imagined and wrote about their best possible future lives every day for four days, they felt happier, less negative, and even got sick less often.
So find a comfortable, safe place to sit and let’s begin. Settle into an upright posture with relaxed shoulders. Now let’s move into a pattern of deep breathing. Let’s take a nice deep breath in, expanding your chest, and as we breathe out, let’s follow the air, throw our lungs, our throat, and our nose. Deep breath in.
Breathing out, notice how the quality of your breath it’s changing. As we continue that pattern of deepening breathing, think of a person you’re in a romantic relationship with. Or if you’re not in a romantic relationship, think of a dear friend.
I always like in these instances to think of their face, their voice, their mannerisms, what it’s like to be near them.
Now take a moment to imagine your life in the future and as we think about our best possible future self in this relationship, what are the moments that come to mind, the scenes, the interactions with this romantic partner or dear friend.
What is the tone of that interaction like?
What are you doing?
Let’s think of a friend or another friend if you thought of a dear friend in our last part of this exercise and imagine what your best friendships might be in 2024.
What scenes unfold?
What is happening in those interactions with your friends? What are people doing? How do you feel?
Now let’s think about your relations with your family. For example, with your siblings, your parents, maybe cousins or your children.
Imagine being your best possible self. In that heartfelt connection. What would that look like?
Notice what is happening. What scenes come to mind. What you are doing.
How you are relating to this member of your family.
How does it make you feel?
Think and take stock of all your relationships as you have imagined your best moments in the future with romantic partners, dear friends, friends and family members. Are there common threads? Are there patterns of action that you’re taking? Things that you are saying?
Are you providing support or humor? Or care or lightheartedness?
Drawing upon that you might wanna set an intention to how you will act and feel and orient to the relationships that are part of your best possible self.
Notice the physical sensations of that experience, your emotions, images, memories, thoughts that come to mind.
Notice the quality of your breathing.
Come back to right now, noticing the sounds around you.
And notice how you’re feeling right now. Settle into that feeling and if your eyes were closed, gently open them.
And I challenge you to notice how this practice may linger in the ways that you are with romantic partners and your friends and your family members. If there are subtle ways in which you notice the changes in your relationships.
Thank you for imagining this essential part of your best possible self, which is really your relationality, your relationships to friends and partners and family members and other people. Have a wonderful day.