Studies Say Visualization Can Help You Accomplish Just About Any Goal (In 3 Simple Steps)

It's all about your mindset.

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Our minds are powerful tools that can change us profoundly and one way this happens is through visualization — practicing your goal in your imagination. And you can use such a tool when you want to learn how to be happy with yourself and your life.

A 1950's study by Dr. Biasiotto at the University of Chicago tested the power of visualization by seeing how much the test subjects could improve their basketball free-throws.


First, he counted how many free throws each participant could make. Then, he divided the people into three groups: 

  1. The first group practiced free throws for an hour every day for thirty days.
  2. The second group sat in a dark room and visualized themselves making free throws for an hour every day for thirty days.
  3. The third group did nothing to improve their free throws.

After 30 days, the first group improved by 24 percent. The second group improved 23 percent by sitting in a room and visualizing! The third group did not improve at all.

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Visualization is very effective in many areas of life: weight loss, sports performance, reducing fears and anxieties, and even when quitting smoking and alcohol.

These 3 steps will help you harness the power of visualization so you can learn how to be happy:

1. Visualize the process, as well as your end result.

The free throwers didn't just see the ball swishing through the net.


They mentally walked themselves through practice, the steps of their feet, the flick of the wrist, and finally, the ball falling through the net.

2. Engage your senses as you visualize.

For example, if you want to lose weight by eating more healthy, close your eyes and mentally feel the textures, tastes, and goodness of the food. Imagine chewing and swallowing and then smile.

Congratulate yourself on your good choices.


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3. Visualize from inside yourself, in first person.

If you see it from a distance, in the third person, it won't be as effective.

Let's get a bit more specific. Perhaps you want to lose weight. You can:

  • Talk to yourself in positive ways: This is VERY important! The way you speak to yourself in your head affects everything. Try changing your "should's" to "want's". Instead of saying, "I look awful! I really should lose some weight!", say "I'm ready to make some better choices in my life and get healthy!" Encourage yourself the way you would with a good friend.
  • Think in terms of ADDING foods to your diet instead of taking them away. The mentality of sacrifice is not very motivating for most of us. So, think: "I'm going to add a bowl of healthy fruits and vegetables to my daily meals...and I'm going to eat those first!"
  • Have an eating plan for each day, and prepare the night before. If we have a plan, we're much more likely to eat healthily. I don't know about you, but if I get hungry, I'll eat anything within reach!

So, now, add visualization to each of these items. Try: "It's another beautiful morning! I am looking forward to being healthy today....."


And then imagine yourself enjoying the healthy food you've planned. Visualize the taste of the salad, the crunch of the carrots, and the cleansing water you will drink. Then, go do the things you've visualized. Sometimes, it helps you to visualize your thinner self if you have a picture of yourself at a healthier weight.

Then, congratulate yourself!

Visualization builds happiness in many ways: you have more control, are more likely to accomplish your goals and desires, and are training your brain to focus.


Don't be discouraged if this is hard at first. It takes a bit of practice. You can do it!

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Sally Evans a Licensed Professional Counselor and have practiced psychotherapy for twenty years, focusing on anxiety management, relieving depression and women's transitions.