Just as you strengthen muscles by using them, you can tone your positive personality traits, such as optimism. Adults who spent time exercising character strengths improved them--and their overall sense of well-being--better than a control group, according to a new study from the University of Zurich. Try these moves, based on the activities study participants completed. No sneakers required!
The Reach-Out: Improves Gratitude
Write a letter or an e-mail to someone who has supported you or gone out of her way for you recently, and let her know that it mattered. Expressing gratitude can elicit positive emotions, which play a key role in boosting your mood, researchers say.
The Joint Effort: Improves Enthusiasm
Lacking motivation to do the things you really want to do? Surround yourself with an energetic crowd--at a sporting event, an uplifting seminar, or even an aerobics class. Enthusiasm can be contagious and habit forming.
The Door Opener: Improves Optimism
Think about a situation in which you lost out on something, whether the cause was bad luck or bad timing. Write it down, then identify a door that opened because of that closed one. This move helps you look on the bright side.
The Deeper Dig: Improves Curiosity
Rather than simply wondering about a topic of interest (oysters? art?), probe further. Read an article or go to an exhibit. Journal about your experience or recap it on Facebook. Learning--and sharing knowledge--foster curiosity.
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