A Guide to Increase Positive Emotion: The Pleasant Life

Satisfaction with the Past, Optimism about the Future, Happiness in the Present

Positive psychology coaching (PPC) is concerned with building the states that make life worth living, leading a joyful life through experiencing positive emotions, leading an engaged life through connecting with intrinsically rewarding internal or external activity, and leading a meaningful life through finding meaning and purpose and connecting to a greater cause.

Positive psychology (PP) is about the meaning of happy and unhappy moments, the tapestry they weave, and the strengths and virtues they display that make up your life quality.

Take particular care with endings in your life, for their color will forever tinge your memory of the entire relationship and your willingness to re-enter it.

{Daniel Kahneman cites a colonoscopy experiment where the physician added one extra minute in the end, but with the colonoscope not moving and thus a less uncomfortable final minute than before. Although it results in one extra minute of discomfort and this group gets more pain than the routine group, their experience ends relatively well, their memory of the episodes is much rosier, and they are more willing to undergo the procedure again than the routine group.}

Shortcuts to happiness, joy, rapture, comfort, and ecstasy don’t last; positive emotion alienated from the exercise of character leads to emptiness, inauthenticity, depression, and, as we age, to the gnawing realization that we are fidgeting until we die.

The positive feeling that arises from exercising strengths and virtues rather than shortcuts is authentic.

Try this out and see for yourself: engage in one pleasurable and one philanthropic activity, and write about both. Of course, the afterglow of the “pleasurable” activity will pale in comparison with the effects of the kind action. However, the whole day will improve when our philanthropic acts are spontaneous and reflect personal strengths.

The exercise of kindness is a gratification, in contrast to pleasure. As a gratification, it calls on your strengths to rise to an occasion and meet a challenge. Kindness is not accompanied by a separable stream of positive emotion like joy; instead, it consists of total engagement and loss of self-consciousness. Time stops.

Our lives are authentic when wellbeing comes from engaging our strengths and virtues.

Positive feelings about a person or an object get us to approach it, while negative feelings get us to avoid it.

Negative emotions such as fear, sadness, and anger are our first defenses against external threats. Fear signals that danger is lurking, sadness signals that loss is impending, and anger signals that someone is trespassing against us. In evolution, danger, loss, and trespass are all threats to survival. Negative emotions dominate win-loss or zero-sum games, and the more serious the outcome, the more intense and desperate these emotions are. Our ancestors who felt negative emotions strongly when life and limb were the issue fought and fled the best, passing on the relevant genes.

All emotions have a feeling component, a sensory component, a thinking component, and an action component. The feeling component of all negative emotions is aversion, such as disgust, fear, repulsion, hatred, and the like. These feelings, like sights, sounds, and smells, intrude on consciousness and override whatever else is happening. This sensory alarm mobilizes us to find out what’s wrong and eliminate it. The thinking such emotions engender is focused and intolerant, narrowing our attention to the weapon and not the hairstyle of our assailant. All of this culminates in quick and decisive action: fight, flight, or conserve.

Appreciating complex contingencies is the process of judgment, and extrapolating them to the future is the process of expectation.

Some people have a lot of positive affect, which stay relatively fixed over their lifetime. For example, “high positive affect people” feel great often; good things bring them pleasure and joy in abundance.

Just as many people, however, have very little of it. As a result, they don’t feel great, or even good, most of the time; when success occurs, they don’t jump for joy.

Most of the rest of us lie somewhere in between.

A person can be happy even if he does not have much in the way of positive emotion.

Feelings are states, momentary occurrences that need not be recurring features of personality. In contrast to states, traits are either negative or positive characteristics that recur across time and in different situations, and strengths and virtues are the positive characteristics that bring about good feelings and gratification.

Some highly heritable traits don’t change much, while others are very changeable (like pessimism and fearfulness). {Less changeable trait <—> More changeable trait}

Any number of uplifts, such as chocolate, a comedy film, a back rub, a compliment, flowers, or a new blouse, can easily increase momentary happiness. However, increasing the number of transient bursts of momentary positive feelings will not raise your enduring level of happiness.

Pleasure is a powerful source of motivation but does not produce change; it is a conservative force that makes us want to satisfy existing needs, achieve comfort and relax.

Enjoyment or gratification, on the other hand, is not always pleasant, and it can be utterly stressful at times.

When an entire lifetime is taken up in pursuing positive emotions, authenticity and meaning are nowhere to be found. Getting more gratifications in your life is more complex than getting more positive emotions and is linked to identifying and using your signature strengths. Shifting the focus from “How can I be happy?” to “What is the good life?” is the first step from relying on shortcuts and a life of snatching up as many easy pleasures as possible to the exercise of personal strengths and virtues in the pursuit of gratifications and meaning.

The pleasures are distinct from gratifications in many ways.

The pleasures are accompanied by a raw bodily feeling of positive emotion, the hedonic tone of the experience.

Gratifications do not produce this type of raw bodily feeling but produce total absorption, suspension of consciousness, and flow with a complete immersion in the experience that blocks emotions. Eudaemonia, or gratification, is part and parcel of right action and can only be had by activity consonant with a noble purpose.

The pleasures are about the senses and emotions. The gratifications are about enacting personal strengths and virtues.

Strategies under your control to increase the pleasures of the present include breaking habituation, savoring, and mindfulness; gratitude, forgiveness, and escaping the tyranny of determinism increase positive emotions about the past; and learning hope and optimism increase positive emotions about the future.

The positive emotions about the future include optimism, hope, faith, and trust.

The positive emotions about the present include joy, ecstasy, calm, zest, exuberance, pleasure, and, most importantly, flow.

The positive emotions about the past include satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, pride, and serenity.

These three different kinds of happiness are not necessarily tightly linked. You can move your emotions positively by changing how you feel about your past, how you think about the future, and experience the present.

The premise of positive psychology interventions (PPIs) is that you can create sustainable change in your happiness level by anchoring yourself in the uppermost reaches of your set range for happiness through voluntary endeavors.

Happiness in the Present

Happiness in the present consists of very different states from happiness about the past and the future and embraces two very distinct kinds of things: pleasures and gratifications.

The pleasures are delights with clear sensory and strong emotional components or raw feels: ecstasy, thrills, orgasm, delight, joy, exuberance, and comfort. Pleasures are fleeting and involve little, if any, thinking. The gratifications are activities we like doing and are not necessarily accompanied by raw feelings. Gratifications engage us fully; we become immersed and absorbed in them and lose self-consciousness. Enjoying a great conversation, rock climbing, reading a good book, dancing, and making a slam dunk are all activities in which time stops for us, our skills match the challenge, and we are in touch with our strengths. The gratifications last longer than the pleasures. They involve quite a lot of thinking and interpretation, they do not habituate quickly, and our strengths and virtues undergird them.

The bodily pleasures are immediate, come through the senses, and are momentary. They need little interpretation. The sense organs are hooked directly to positive emotion; touching, tasting, smelling, moving the body, seeing, and hearing can instantly evoke pleasure.

Despite the delights they so readily bring, the bodily pleasures are momentary and fade rapidly once the external stimulus disappears. We become accustomed to them very readily through habituation, often requiring bigger doses to deliver the same kick as initially. Unless you space these encounters out abstemiously, these pleasures are enormously diminished.

The higher pleasures are like the bodily pleasures but more complex in what sets them off externally. They are more cognitive and more numerous and varied than bodily pleasures.

The higher pleasures could be grouped by intensity as high-intensity pleasures, which include rapture, bliss, ecstasy, thrill, hilarity, euphoria, kick, buzz, elation, and excitement. The moderate-intensity pleasures include ebullience, sparkle, vigor, glee, mirth, gladness, good cheer, enthusiasm, attraction, and fun. Finally, low-intensity pleasures include comfort, harmony, amusement, satiation, and relaxation.

All pleasures have familiar roads to enhancement. Habituation can be countered by spacing your pleasures carefully and entering into a reciprocal surprise arrangement with a friend or lover. Savoring and mindfulness happen by sharing your joys with someone else, taking mental photographs, self-congratulation, and sharpening your perceptions, particularly using perspective-shifting and absorption. Basking, giving thanks, marveling, and luxuriating are all means to amplify pleasures.

Now, put all this to work, and have a beautiful day. Set aside a free day this month to indulge in your favorite pleasures. Pamper yourself. 

Design, in writing, what you will do from hour to hour. 

Carry out the plan.


Both bodily and higher pleasures have a uniform and peculiar set of properties that limit their usefulness as sources of lasting happiness. They are evanescent and usually have a sudden end. Once the external stimulus is gone, the positive emotion sinks beneath the wave of ongoing experience with little trace. Rapidly indulgence in the same pleasure does not work. Habituation or adaptation is an inviolable neurological fact of life. Neurons are wired to respond to novel events and not to fire if the events do not provide new information. At the single-cell level, neurons cannot repeatedly fire for a time of usually a few seconds, called the refractory time. At the whole-brain level, we notice novel events and disregard those that are not. The more redundant the circumstances, the more they merge into the unnoticed background.

Surprise, as well as spacing, keeps pleasures from habituating.


Savoring is the awareness of pleasure and the deliberate conscious attention to the experience of pleasure. These five techniques promote savoring:

Sharing with others. Seek others to share the experience and tell others how much you value the moment. Sharing is the single strongest predictor of the level of pleasure.

Memory-building. Take mental photographs or even a physical souvenir of the event, and reminisce about it later with others.

Self-congratulation. Don’t be afraid of pride. Tell yourself how impressed others are, and remember how long you’ve waited for this to happen.

Sharpening perceptions. Focus on specific elements and block out others. For example, close your eyes when listening to sounds.

Absorption. Let yourself get immersed and try not to think; just sense. Refrain from reminding yourself of other things you should be doing, wonder what comes next, or consider how you could improve the event.

These techniques all support the four kinds of savoring: 

basking or receiving praise and congratulations, 

thanksgiving or expressing gratitude for blessings, 

marveling or losing self in the wonder of the moment, and 

luxuriating or indulging the senses.


Mindful attention to the present occurs much more readily in a slow state of mind than when one is racing future-mindedly through experience.

Mindfulness techniques allow us to see the present moment anew. The underlying principle of these techniques involves shifting perspective to make a stale situation fresh.

Enhancing Positive Emotion in the Present: Savoring A Beautiful Day

Devote half an hour or even an entire day to your favorite pleasurable activities.

Experiment with techniques such as

mindfully experiencing the moment,

sensory memory building: taking mental pictures or finding physical souvenirs,

focusing on sharpening your perceptions,

attaining complete absorption in the activity. and 

later sharing the moment with others.

Note any kind of denigrating or killjoy thinking that arises and try to find the best method for disarming it.

The purpose of this pleasure and mindfulness experience is to help

step out of the hedonic treadmill,

feel the happiness that your life circumstances might merit, your success and good fortune, and

stop to notice or absorb your life, and appreciate your success.

Weave this skill into everyday life.

Enhancing Positive Emotion in the Present: Three Blessings Exercise

Each night before going to bed, write down three good things that happened that day; ask yourself what you did to make each good thing happen.

Be aware of your role in good fortune. You can not make a beautiful sunset, but you can choose to take it in.

In a Work setting: What three things went right with the project today?

What did you do to make those good things happen?

Variation: When lying in bed at night and unfinished business pulls at your thoughts, mull over: “When was I at my best today?”

Satisfaction with the Past

Emotions about the past can range from contentment, serenity, pride, and satisfaction to unrelieved bitterness and vengeful anger. Your thoughts about the past entirely determine these emotions.

A popular western theory of anger postulates that it is healthy to express anger; otherwise, it will come out elsewhere, even more destructively. This theory is false. Dwelling on trespass and the expression of anger produces more cardiac disease and more anger.

The overt expression of hostility is the real culprit in the Type A heart attack link.

In experimental studies, anger expression raises lower blood pressure; in contrast, friendliness in reaction to trespass lowers it.

When positive or negative events happen, there is a temporary burst of mood in the right direction. But usually, the mood settles back into its set range over a short time. Emotions, left to themselves, will dissipate. Their energy seeps out through the membrane, and by emotional osmosis, the person returns to his baseline condition. Expressed and dwelled upon, though, emotions multiply and imprison you in a vicious cycle of dealing fruitlessly with past wrongs.

Insufficient appreciation of and savoring the good events in your past and overemphasizing the bad ones are the two culprits that undermine serenity, contentment, and satisfaction.

Gratitude amplifies the savoring and appreciation of past good events. It boosts good memories about the past, their intensity, their frequency, and the tag lines the memories have.

Rewriting history with forgiveness loosens the power of harmful events to embitter.

Gratitude Exercise

Set aside five free minutes each night for the next two weeks, preferably right before going to sleep. Prepare a pad with one page for each of the next fourteen days.

On the first night, take the Satisfaction with Life Scale and the General Happiness Scale and score them.

Think back over the previous twenty-four hours and write down, in separate lines, up to five things in your life you are grateful for.

Repeat the Life Satisfaction and General Happiness Scales on the final night, two weeks after you start, and compare your scores to the first night’s scores.

If this exercise worked for you, incorporate it into your nightly routine.

Forgiving and Forgetting

Just as gratitude amplifies good memories about the past and opens up the gates for more positive thoughts to visit your consciousness about all the good things related to the object of your gratitude, the reverse is true about negative memories. Frequent and intense negative thoughts about the past are the raw material that blocks the emotions of contentment and satisfaction, and these thoughts make serenity and peace impossible.

Forgetting or suppressing bad memories is futile, and explicit attempts to suppress thoughts will backfire and increase the likelihood of imagining the forbidden object.

Forgiving leaves the memory intact but removes and even transforms the sting.

So, why do so many people hold on to bitter thoughts about their past? Why isn’t positive rewriting of the past the most natural approach to wrongs done to you when there is a clear inverse relationship between unforgiveness and life satisfaction?

Five-step Forgiveness Process: REACH

Recall the hurt in as objective a way as you can. Do not think of the other person as evil. Do not wallow in self-pity. Instead, take deep, slow, and calming breaths as you visualize the event.

Empathize. Try to understand why this person hurt you from the perpetrator’s perspective. This is not easy, but make up a plausible story that the transgressor might tell if challenged to explain. Remember: when others feel their survival is threatened, they will hurt innocents; people who attack others are themselves usually in a state of fear, worry, or hurt; the situation a person finds himself in, and not his underlying personality, can lead to hurt; people often don’t think when they hurt others, they just lash out.

Give the altruistic gift of forgiveness. First, recall a time you transgressed, felt guilty, and were forgiven. This was a gift another person gave you because you needed it, and you were grateful for this gift. Giving this gift usually makes us feel better. But we do not offer this gift out of self-interest. Instead, we provide it because it is for the trespasser’s good. Tell yourself you can rise above hurt and vengeance. If you give the gift grudgingly, however, it will not set you free.

Commit yourself to forgiving publicly. For example, write a certificate of forgiveness, write a letter of forgiveness to the offender, write it in their diary, write a poem or song, or tell a trusted friend what they have done. These are all contracts of forgiveness that lead to the final step.

Hold onto forgiveness. Memories of the event will indeed recur. Forgiveness is not erasure; instead, it is a change in the tag lines that a memory carries. It is essential to realize that memories do not mean unforgiveness. Don’t dwell vengefully on the memories, and don’t wallow in them. Instead, remind yourself that you have forgiven, and read the documents you have composed.

Weighing Up Your Life

How you feel about your life at any moment is a slippery matter, and an accurate appraisal of your life’s trajectory is essential in making decisions about your future. Irrelevant momentary sadness or happiness can strongly cloud your judgment of the overall quality of your life. For example, a recent rejection in love will drag general satisfaction way down, and a recent pay rise will artificially inflate it.

Once a year, do a yearly retrospective. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your life satisfaction in each domain of great value to you. Then, write a couple of sentences that sum up each. The domains you value may include Love, Work, Profession, Finances, Play, Friends, Health, Generativity, Overall, and Trajectory.

The trajectory category allows you to scrutinize the year-to-year changes and their course across a decade.

Weigh up your life once a year. If you find you are getting short weight, change your life. You will usually find that the solution lies in your own hands.

There are three ways under your voluntary control to feel lastingly happier about your past. The first is intellectual letting go of an ideology that your past determines your future. The second and third voluntary controls are emotional and involve voluntarily changing your memories. Increasing gratitude for the good things in your past intensifies positive memories, and learning to forgive past wrongs defuses the bitterness that makes satisfaction impossible.

Enhancing Positive Emotion about the Past: Gratitude Visit

Write a letter to someone kind and good to you:

indicate reasons for your gratitude, specifically;

state concretely what the person has done and what result this has had in your life.

Go and meet this person and read the letter aloud.

Enhancing Positive Emotion about the Past: Letting Go of Grudges, Forgiveness

When bitterness interferes with your happiness:

Write the person’s name in the middle of a paper:

Write in a few words what he did – the grudge, and circle it;

Make 15 more circles on the page:

Fill each one with a phrase describing helpful and generous acts you may be grateful for by the person.

Hold the page at arm’s length, and find a balance between how the person helped and hurt.

Does the hurt get lost in what else this person did?

Variation for a Work setting: If you are having a challenge with a boss, or a subordinate, write the problematic behavior or situation in the middle of a page, then balance it with 15 other things of value.

Optimism about the Future

Positive emotions about the future include faith, trust, confidence, hope, and optimism. You can build optimism and hope.

Optimism is evaluated in two dimensions of explanatory style: permanence in time and pervasiveness in (life) space.

The “Permanent Bad” explanation

A belief in permanent causes of the bad events that happen to you is an expectation that the bad events will persist and are always going to be there to affect your life.

This belief will increase helplessness and reduce persistence in the effort.

{Permanent Bad I score very optimistic}

A permanent, pessimistic style entails thinking about harmful events in terms of “always” and “never” and abiding traits.

An optimistic style entails thinking about bad events in terms of “sometimes” and “lately,” using qualifiers, and blaming dire circumstances on ephemera.

When we fail, we all become at least momentarily helpless. It hurts, but the hurt goes away for some people almost instantly. For others, the pain lasts; it thickens into a grudge. These people remain helpless for days or months, even after minor setbacks. After significant defeats, they may never come back. Pessimism in the permanence dimension determines how long a person gives up and remains helpless and depressed after a destructive event.

Optimism in the permanence dimension is an indication of resilience.

The “Permanent Good” explanation

A belief in permanent causes of good events is optimistic in expectations and entails thinking about good events in terms of permanent traits and abilities. In contrast, pessimistic people name transient causes, such as moods and effort, in explaining good events.

{Permanent Good I score average, between moderately optimistic and moderately pessimistic}

When people who believe good events have permanent causes succeed, they try even harder the next time.

People who see temporary reasons for good events may give up even when they succeed, believing it was a fluke.

People who best take advantage of success, and get on a roll once things start to go well, are the optimists.

Pervasiveness: Specific versus Universal

Some people can put their troubles neatly into a box and go about their lives even when a crucial aspect is crumbling. Others let one problem bleed all over everything. They catastrophize. When one thread of their lives breaks, the whole fabric unravels.

People who make universal explanations for their failures give up on everything when a loss strikes in one area. People who make specific explanations may become helpless within that particular part of their lives yet march on stalwartly, reliably, and hardworking in the others.

The pervasiveness dimension determines whether helplessness cuts across many situations or is limited to the original arena.

The “Pervasive Bad” explanation

{Pervasiveness Bad I score very optimistic}

When a bad event happens, the pessimist thinks he is no good at anything, and the event will undermine everything in his life. In contrast, the optimist thinks he is no good at that specific task, subject area, or with that particular person.

The “Pervasive Good” explanation

{Pervasiveness Good I score moderately pessimistic, between average and very pessimistic}

The optimist believes good events will enhance everything he does, while the pessimist believes specific factors cause good events.

The Stuff of Hope

{I score moderately hopeful, between extraordinarily hopeful and average hopeful. The scale continues to “moderately hopeless” and “severely hopeless” on the lower side.}

Hope depends on the two dimensions of permanence and pervasiveness taken together.

Finding permanent and universal causes of good events and temporary and specific reasons for misfortune is the art of hope. These people will bounce back from troubles briskly and quickly get on a roll when they succeed.

Finding permanent and universal causes for misfortune and temporary and specific causes of good events is the practice of despair. These people collapse under pressure, both for a long time and across situations, and rarely get on a roll.

Increasing Optimism and Hope

One method of building optimism consists of recognizing and then disputing pessimistic thoughts. Once you recognize an unwarranted pessimistic thought, you argue against it using the ABCDE model. By effectively disputing the beliefs that follow adversity, you can change your reaction from dejection and giving up to activity and good cheer.

Adversity, Belief, Consequences, Disputation, and Energization are the steps.

It is essential to realize your beliefs are just that – beliefs. They may or may not be facts.

We can distance ourselves from the unfounded accusations of others. But we are much worse at distancing ourselves from the charges we launch daily at ourselves. What we say to ourselves when we face a setback can be just as baseless as the ravings of a jealous rival. Our reflexive explanations are usually distortions. Therefore, standing back and distancing yourself from your pessimistic explanations, at least long enough to verify their accuracy, is essential. Checking out the accuracy of our reflexive beliefs is what disputing is all about.

The first step is knowing your beliefs warrant dispute; the next step is putting disputation into practice.

Learning to argue with yourself: Four ways to make your disputations convincing

Evidence; Alternatives; Implications; Usefulness

Evidence: The most convincing way of disputing a negative belief is to show it is factually incorrect. Learned optimism is about accuracy. Search for the evidence pointing to the distortions in your catastrophic explanations.

Alternatives: No event has just one cause; almost all events have many causes. You do not need to latch on to the worst of all the reasons – the most permanent and pervasive ones. Disputation has reality on its side. Ask yourself, is there any less destructive way to look at this? Scan for all the possible contributing causes. Focus on those that are changeable (not enough time spent studying), specific (this particular exam was uncharacteristically hard), and non-personal (the professor graded unfairly). So much pessimistic thinking is latching onto the direst possible belief – not because of evidence, but precisely because it is so alarming. It is your job to undo this destructive habit by becoming facile at generating alternatives and latching onto (positive) possibilities that you are not fully convinced are true.

Implications: Even if the negative belief you hold about yourself may be true, you say to yourself, what are its implications, and use a decatastrophizing technique. How likely is the worst-case scenario? At this point, go to the first technique and repeat the search for evidence.

Usefulness: Sometimes, the consequences of holding a belief matter more than its truth. Is the belief destructive? What good will it do me to dwell on the idea that the world should be fair? A nice sentiment that could cause more grief than it is worth. Another tactic is to detail how you can change the situation in the future. Even if the belief is true now, is the situation changeable? How can you go about changing it?

Practice disputing the following five adverse events you face daily, listen closely for your beliefs, observe the consequences, and dispute your thoughts vigorously. Then watch the energy that occurs as you succeed in dealing with the negative beliefs. Finally, record all of this in your journal. These five adverse events can be minor; in each, use the four techniques of effective self-disputation.

Use the method for a good event; also, when a pessimistic explanation for good events stops you from getting on a roll and taking full advantage of the victory. Dispute temporary, specific, and external explanations for success and change them into permanent, pervasive, and personal explanations – the explanations you need to keep success coming.

Enhancing Positive Emotion about the Future: One Door Closes, One Door Opens. An optimism-building exercise.

Think back over your life, and list times when you met with failure or loss or when plans went wrong. Then search for what good thing happened due to the first door closing.

Variation: Practice this in a small way during the week as events unfold; e.g., one event is canceled – what takes its place?

Enhancing Positive Emotion about the Future: Optimism Building

Go over a past failure and past success.

Analyze what went wrong from this perspective:

Search for circumstances, not personal reasons, for the setback or failure, or

focus on specific actions, e.g., “I’m a good planner but didn’t plan that day well.”

When you did something right:

Search for what character strengths accounted for the success.

Explanatory style of optimists:

they tend to see what goes wrong as temporary and a result of circumstances or choices rather than seeing failure as related to one’s core;

when things go right, they see this as more permanent and about their core self, not simply luck.

Rapid Fire Disputation. ABCDE, negative beliefs, and pessimistic assessments.

When pessimistic thoughts interfere with a sense of hope;

A stands for adversity; the problem or pessimistic thought

B your automatic beliefs about it

C the usual consequences

D your disputing your routine belief

E the energizing you get when you dispute effectively

Think outside the usual, search for evidence that concretely challenges the thought, and find just one thing that contradicts your conclusion.

Then search for alternate explanations for challenges and look for aspects you can control.

Triumph of Hope based on Reality

High-hope versus low-hope individuals enjoy better or have higher physical health, academic functioning, interpersonal effectiveness, athletic performance, psychosocial adjustment, capacity for emotional self-regulation, and superior abilities to face and overcome obstacles.

As a highly hopeful person, when your progress toward a goal is blocked, you can search for and find other pathways to the goal and maintain a sense of agency, a sense of being able to act.

A person low on hope may become confused, avoidant, and ineffective when thwarted.

Increasing hopefulness, e.g., through hope training, will boost the effectiveness of subsequent learning engagements.

Hope has two elements; both can be strengthened by hope training.

Pathways thinking: when the first route is blocked, you produce alternative routes to get to your destination.

Sense of agency: a sense that you can reach desired goals.

With high hope, you can think flexibly and change or correct the course as needed.

With low hope, you are less flexible, and another pathway does not feel viable.

To enhance pathways thinking:

Increase your capacity to find alternate routes.

To enhance the sense of agency:

Increase your efficacy by developing more precise and attainable goals or vividly recalling past successes and solidifying cognitive and affective states associated with your individualized sense of “I can.”

An increase in hope translates into feeling more empowered.

Brainstorming is a form or type of pathway training, e.g., “Let’s think of five ways to get there!”

Positive affirmation and visualization exercises help to build a clear self-perception of “I can,” a sense of agency.

Wheel, or Pillars, of Life exercise

Aided by brainstorming and clear visualization, paired with accountability, and occurring in the context of a developmental relationship, the wheel of life exercise could foster both pathways and agency thinking.

Identify a series of life domains; then, rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how satisfied you are in that domain.

Describe in detail what that aspect of life would look like if it were a 10 and if neither time nor money was an issue.

Brainstorm what you could do in the next six weeks to move from your current rating, say a 4, to a 4.5 or 5.