Daily exercise of imagining our best possible self for two weeks results in increases in optimism.
Imaging our best self can engage the parasympathetic nervous system – the function responsible for relaxation and slowing the heart rate – resulting in renewed optimism and improvements in working relationships.
Richard Boyatzis, PhD, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, does research how people and organizations (from teams to communities) can make the changes they want and how they can sustain those changes. He says:
“There is strong neurological evidence supporting the theory that engaging our parasympathetic systems — through regular physical or leisure activities — stokes compassion and creativity.”
This was of personal interest to me given that the last several days I wasn’t feeling very optimistic. Seems my brain’s left inferior frontal gyrus was not gyrating. (jw)
P.S. Be patient while the video loads. If you don’t like what Tali says you will like how she looks (certainly not like a stereo-type neuroscientist).
“Optimism bias is the belief that the future will be better, much better, than the past or present. And most of us display this bias. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot wants to know why: What is it about our brains that makes us overestimate the positive?
Tali Sharot, The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain.
In the book, Sharot reviewed findings from both social science and neuroscience that point to an interesting conclusion: “Our brains aren’t just stamped by the past. They are constantly being shaped by the future.”
In her own work, Sharot is interested in how our natural optimism actually shapes what we remember, and her interesting range of papers encompasses behavioral research (how likely we are to misremember major events) as well as medical findings — like searching for the places in the brain where optimism lives. Sharot is a faculty member of the Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences at University College London.”