A 5-Minute Exercise That Will Boost Your Mood
Look over the emotional states above and on a separate piece of paper write down any you've felt in the past 24 hours. If you felt some really strongly—or for an extended period of time, not just a fleeting moment—feel free to add one, two, three, four or even five check marks. Then tally the number of words and checks for positive emotions (your PE total) and negative emotions (your NE total). Divide your PE by your NE to calculate your positive emotion ratio. If, for example, you have 12 checks for positive emotions and six for negative emotions, your ratio would be 12/6, or 2.
Your PE ratio is a good gauge of how resilient you are in times of stress, according to research conducted by Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The higher your proportion of positive to negative, the better able you are to rebound from setbacks, and the more likely you are to achieve your goals.
Boost Your Score
To increase your positivity number, you need what I call power-ups. In video games, they are the bonuses you collect to make you stronger (like the power pellets in Pac-Man that help you devour the ghosts). Real-life power-ups are anything that creates a quick moment of pleasure, strength, courage or connection: a song that makes you feel powerful, a food that gives you energy, a five-minute activity that brings you peace. Try to collect and activate at least three power-ups every day. As you implement the right strategies, your ratio—and resilience—will rise. (For more power-ups, visit SuperBetter.com.)
If your score is higher than 3...
Way to go! With a number this high, you're likely to be adept at mental power-ups, which may be more difficult for those who are less resilient. Use these when you hit trouble spots:
Press reset: Having a bad morning? Close your eyes for one minute. When you open them, imagine your day is starting over.
Look to the future: For a quick jolt of optimism, think of something you're looking forward to in the next 24 hours and a month from now.
If your score is between 1 and 3...
Try physical power-ups. Research has found that you can have success with boosts that make you feel better physically. A couple of joy-inducing ideas:
Get some sun: Go outside and stand in the sunlight, even if you have only five minutes to spare.
Give yourself a hug: Show your body a little self-love by telling it what a great job it's doing—just the way it is.
If your score is lower than 1...
Get started with social power-ups that bring you closer to others. Positive social connections have been shown to improve a person's PE ratio and are useful for those with low scores. Two ways to upgrade your relationships:
Cheer someone on: Think of a friend who is struggling right now, and send her a few words of encouragement. It'll boost your mood, too.
Create a friends and family playlist: Ask each person in your inner circle to choose one inspiring song you should download.