The Happiness Connection  

Visualize the life you want

Visualization: formation of mental visual images. Merriam-Webster.com

Visualizing yourself dealing successfully with a difficult situation, remembering the words you need to memorize, or seeing yourself winning a trophy, can improve your chances of achieving that goal.

It is a technique used regularly by top level athletes.

Exercise psychologist Guang Yue discovered that people who did a virtual workout regularly for three months, increased their muscle strength by 13.5%. In other words, they imagined themselves going through a workout instead of actually doing it.

Those people who actually completed the workout, improved their muscle strength by 30%. I find it amazing that by simply visualizing the gym routine, you could achieve almost 50% of the improvement made by those completing it physically.

Visualization is recommended by many people for a wide variety of purposes, including weight loss.

I’m sceptical about its success for this objective. Perhaps I lack belief because I’ve tried it and so far never managed to get positive results.

I was with a group of female friends recently. The conversation turned to the idea of using visualization to shed pounds.

One person suggested finding a photo of yourself when you were the size you want to return to, and putting it on the door of your fridge. Every time you look at it, imagine yourself being that size.

I voiced my skepticism for this technique. I believe it helps to remind yourself what you are striving for, but less convinced that by simply imagining yourself as thinner, it will happen.

Everything is created twice; once as a thought and once physically. If you believe it, you can achieve it. That includes being slimmer.

However, I don’t believe that visualizing the perfect you will necessarily make it happen, and can lead to major disappointment. Imagining yourself making healthier food choices, or going to the gym regularly, perhaps, but not being reminded what you looked like 20 years ago.

Having a very specific picture of what you want can lead to tunnel vision. You may come to a point where you are incredibly healthy and vibrant, but you don’t look like you did a few years or decades ago.

This can lead to dissatisfaction even though you have achieved something amazing.

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a recently single, incredibly fit young woman. She shared her displeasure with the physical appearance of the single men she encountered.

I suggested that when she met the right person, she wouldn’t care so much what he looked like. She dismissed my words as crazy.

Before I was married, I always dated men over six feet. I didn’t give shorter guys a second look, until I met my husband. The fact he was only an inch taller than me didn’t make one ounce of difference.


Rather than visualizing a very specific picture, I suggest that you set an intention and lean into how you want to feel when that intention is fulfilled.

In the case of finding a partner, worry less about what they look like and more about how you feel when you are together. Decide what is important to you. You might appreciate loyalty, fun, or stimulating conversation.

When you meet someone, stop to see if how they make you feel matches your intention, rather than looking to see how tall they are or whether they are carrying a few extra pounds.

As far as weight loss in concerned, care less about what the scale says and more about how you want to feel. I suspect that a lot of people believe they would be happier if they were thinner.

I’m sceptical that would happen.

There are a lot of slender people in the world who are not happy. Learn to love the body you have not the one you fantasize about.

Decide how you want to feel in and about your body.

Rather than wanting to be a specific weight, set an intention to be healthy and vibrant. Visualize yourself living an active life with smart food choices.

I am accepting that my goal of feeling good about myself may be achieved when I am at weight that is different from the one I consider to be desirable.

If I feel my weight isn’t causing a health concern or stopping me from doing the things I want to do, I want to be able to accept it.

This won’t happen without effort. I am a work in progress. I have a lot of years of conditioning to undo.

So many times you may work toward something, only to discover that it didn’t transform your life the way you expected it to. Instead, be guided by how you feel rather than by a specific image of how it, you, or someone else should look.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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