Life Approach Innovation: Write It Down to Redirect Yourself

We all look for a better life, and most of us are ready to spend time and money on buying and reading all those countless books on self-development and self-improvement. All those tips and advice are provided to offer us a path to a better life, but the problem is... they do not work, as a rule.

Why does it happen so?

When we buy a book, our approach is the following: we read it and we wait for our problems to disappear; we do not have a clear picture of how it will happen, but we believe it SHOULD happen because we've bought and read the book!

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Yes, positive thinking is good, but no one knows any exact cases when simply thinking positively worked and brought people satisfaction and better life without any other work and efforts from their side. Timothy Wilson, a social psychologist, insists that our minds are not that easy to convince: you can't just tell your mind to think positively and believe everything will happen (like The Secret movie).

He offers an alternative instead.

His innovative approach is called story editing, and Mr. Wilson describes it in his book Redirect based on different social scientists' research. How does it work?

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According to Wilson, we all have a story in our mind, a story about who we are, how we see ourselves, and who we want to be. This story can be visualized in our mind and told to other people. To make this story happen, we can use specific writing exercises: they redirect our way of thinking, influence our choices, and change our way of experiencing the world around.

When you write your story down, not only have and imagine it in your head, its clear picture and possibility of seeing and reading it can redirect your mind and be very helpful indeed.

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Exercise 1: Write through your problem

We all have troubles and problems in our lives from time to time and it can be very difficult to accept them and deal with them. James Pennebaker offers Writing to Heal approach that lets you change your mind about a problem through writing exercises.

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What should you do?

  • Think of your problem in the end of a day.
  • Spend 15-20 minutes writing about that specific problem.
  • Record your thoughts in such a way during 3-4 days in a row.
  • Do not stop, do not guess what words to use and how to write it - just write for 15-20 minutes.
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This writing exercise seems simple, but it can be very difficult to describe your problem clearly at first. As you continue doing it, you will gain clarity and it will help you understand the nature of your problem, change your attitude towards it and find a way to solve it.

Exercise 2: Distance yourself

Your problem is a negative experience, and it can be difficult or even impossible to understand and deal with it when you are in it. The decision is to distance yourself a bit and try to take a look at your problem sideways. The next writing exercise offered by Wilson is called Step-Back-And-Ask-Why.

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What should you do?

  • Close your eyes and imagine yourself back in that specific bad moment.
  • Take a few steps away (in your mind of course) and watch this story happening to distant version of you.
  • Write about what a distant you thinks and feels at that moment. Don't just describe but also try to explain why it happened to a distant you.
  • Write in the third person, as it can help you distance better.

Exercise 3: Your Best Self

We all dream about what we could be and look like. We often tell ourselves we do everything we can to become cool and achieve something; but it is always better to make a clear picture of your best possible self and things you should do to achieve your goals.

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This writing exercise is called The Best Possible Selves.

What should you do?

  • Imagine your life in the future.
  • Imagine you've reached all your life goals.
  • Write them down and describe HOW you achieved them, focusing on the process of achieving rather than the result itself.
  • Spend 15-20 minutes a night to write this exercise.
  • Spend 3-4 days in a row to do this exercise.

Exercise 4: Maintain a purpose

This exercise is more a call to action than writing. All social scientists insist that having a clear purpose is very important for you if you want to feel yourself fulfilled and happy. So, you should maintain a clear sense of purpose (together with hope and meaning) for your better well-being.

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What should you do?

  • Remind yourself about your most important goals in life.
  • Always try to find ways to move forward and achieve your goals.

Exercise 5: Imagine things that might not have happened

We are usually grateful for what we have and whom we meet. Some psychologists advise to write our gratitude down to understand their positiveness better; but the paradox is, such gratitude journals can reduce our pleasure from positive events that had happened in our lives.

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What does it mean? For example, you are asked to tell the story about how you met your sweetheart person. It can hardly make your happier about this event, you just tell your story which has happened already. But! If you are asked to write about the ways you might not have met your partner and the ways your relationship might not have worked out – and it will make your relationship look special again, because you start to value them again.

This writing exercise is called George Bailey Technique (if you watched It's A Wonderful Life movie, this name will sound familiar to you), and it can bring excitement back to your experience.

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What should you do?

  • Think of one special and positive event in your life.
  • Imagine all the ways when this event or achievement might not have happened.
  • Write them down to see and understand them clearer.

Writing exercises help us by all means, but research also shows that helping others can make you a much happier person. So, if you want to feel like a good person, go and be a good person: help others, form bonds, have a positive image of yourself – and your mind will think the same of you.

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Written by Emily Johnson from Omnipapers blog, a place where one can find reviews of essay writing services and choose the best one to help them deal with writing and reach their academic goals.

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