It is clear that experiencing positive emotions offers many benefits.

People who experience frequent positive feelings are healthier and live longer, they are able to think more creatively and problem solve more effectively, they build healthier relationships, and are more resilient and able to bounce back from stress.

So why aren’t we all more dedicated and focused on enhancing positive emotions?

Maybe it’s because remembering to focus on the positive isn’t always so easy. We may get stuck in a rut, and get overrun with stress, which can taint our outlook and ability to manage our thinking.

It’s all too easy to fall back into thinking traps and automatic negative thoughts when life circumstances start bringing us down.

As we go through our day, having something to help us redirect our focus to those things that enhance psychological well-being can be very helpful.

Fortunately I found just such an exercise.

I was reading blogs the other day and ran across a great handout that offers a mnemonic device to help recall and stimulate positivity. It’s from Dr. Elsbeth Martindale’s site Courage to Bloom and is a very simple and practical way to bring us into a positive mindset.

The exercise is called “Give Yourself a Hand,” and by simply picking a finger and incorporating positive psychology principles, we can work toward a greater sense of well-being.

When you’re feeling down or need a boost of positivity count through each finger to remind yourself of the pleasant, satisfying, and encouraging things in life.

Pinky – Name something you feel grateful for. Consider what you are thankful for in your life.

Ring finger – Recall a time when you loved deeply, or think of people who you feel strong affection for.

The Reverse Flip-Off (Middle finger) – Name something you have done for another that makes you feel good. Remind yourself of these kind acts and vow to do more acts of kindness.

Pointer finger – Point to something beautiful or in nature. Find something that inspires you and fills you with awe.

Thumbs -up – Name something you do or have done that you feel proud of. Consider your strengths and positive qualities that make you feel good about yourself.

You can pick a specific time or situation to help incorporate this exercise into your routine. Do this before meals, when you have to go to the bathroom, when you’re sitting in your car in traffic, or any other daily interaction that affords you a brief moment.

If we remember to focus on the positive and apply the principles that positive psychology offers it can certainly help us feel better and experience more moments of happiness. This is just one example of a mnemonic device that can trigger positive.

Do you have any other suggestions or exercises that help you maintain a positive attitude and remind you to focus on the positive?

Photo credit: .v1ctor.



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Shake Off the Grind (October 8, 2011)

Hank Chen (October 8, 2011)

From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (October 8, 2011)

Mental Health Social (October 8, 2011)

Vivian Martin (October 9, 2011)

sandrabullks (October 9, 2011)

Cash Flow Professor (October 9, 2011)

LiseSutherlandFraser (October 9, 2011)

Pick a Finger to Boost Positivity | Adventures in Positive Psychology | Social Fobi - Det Du Behöver Veta (October 10, 2011)

Marjie Knudsen (October 10, 2011)

Lisa Brookes Kift (October 10, 2011)

Chato B Stewart’s OVER Medicated » Blog Archive » Congrats to all the Blogger on Psych Centrals 1st Mental Health Day Blog Party (October 12, 2011)

LiseSutherlandFraser (October 13, 2011)

    Last reviewed: 8 Oct 2011

APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). Pick a Finger to Boost Positivity. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2015, from



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