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Best Possible Self: Visualization Exercise

Imagine yourself in a future where everything has gone right. You’ve accomplished your goals, and as a result, you’ve become your best possible self. What would your life look like? How would you spend your time? Who would be by your side?

The best possible self exercise is a research-supported intervention for improving mood and increasing optimism, along with several other positive outcomes.

In the Best Possible Self worksheet, your clients will be prompted to imagine and write about their best possible selves in three areas. Throughout the next week, these responses will be used to guide daily visualization practice.

Although visualization will usually be done at home, we suggest completing the first round in session, immediately after the writing portion of the exercise. This will help teach and reinforce the technique. Then, help your client schedule time to practice visualization at home.

See our Positive Psychology Techniques Guide for more information about similar interventions.

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References

1. Carrillo Vega, A. (2018). "My Best Self": Efficacy and underlying mechanisms of a Positive Psychology Intervention.

2. King, L. A. (2001). The health benefits of writing about life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(7), 798-807.

3. Layous, K., Nelson, S. K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). What is the optimal way to deliver a positive activity intervention? The case of writing about one’s best possible selves. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(2), 635-654.

4. Loveday, P. M., Lovell, G. P., & Jones, C. M. (2018). The best possible selves intervention: A review of the literature to evaluate efficacy and guide future research. Journal of Happiness Studies, 19(2), 607-628.

5. Loveday, P. M., Lovell, G. P., & Jones, C. M. (2018). The importance of leisure and the psychological mechanisms involved in living a good life: A content analysis of best-possible-selves texts. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13(1), 18-28.

6. Malouff, J. M., & Schutte, N. S. (2017). Can psychological interventions increase optimism? A meta-analysis. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(6), 594-604.

7. Meevissen, Y. M., Peters, M. L., & Alberts, H. J. (2011). Become more optimistic by imagining a best possible self: Effects of a two week intervention. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 42(3), 371-378.

8. Peters, M. L., Meevissen, Y. M., & Hanssen, M. M. (2013). Specificity of the Best Possible Self intervention for increasing optimism: Comparison with a gratitude intervention. Terapia psicológica, 1(1), 93-100.

9. Renner, F., Schwarz, P., Peters, M. L., & Huibers, M. J. (2014). Effects of a best-possible-self mental imagery exercise on mood and dysfunctional attitudes. Psychiatry research, 215(1), 105-110.

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