Mindset Hacks To Increase Your Happiness

happiness living your best life personal growth positive mindset self-care Nov 15, 2023

We all have occasional down days, however for some of us, focusing on negative things that have happened in the past or taking a fatalistic view of what the present or future might hold, can become a habit which seriously impacts our ability to be happy in the present. 

Ideally, you’ll have a store of positive memories from your past that you can look back on a savour, you’ll be planning for and looking forward to some things in the future and enjoying some things that are happing in your life in the present moment.

This Quiz will help you identify where most of your focus goes and what you can do to get closer to a balanced mindset to increase your level of happiness and positive feelings.

Mindset Quiz

For each of the 5 descriptions below give yourself a score between 1 and 10.

A score of 1 = I never do this and 10 = I do this quite frequently.

Just pick a number between 1 and 10 which feels right to you.

This is a self-assessment, so please try to be honest with yourself.

Mindset 1 - Past-Negative

I often think about the past and wish I had done things differently. I remember things that didn’t go well and I have regrets about missed opportunities. I can tend to blame others when things go wrong and sometimes hold grudges for a long time. I don’t really have a lot of self-confidence in my abilities.

My Score out of 10:

Mindset 2 - Past-Positive

I often think back to happy memories from my past. I enjoy reminiscing and feel my past experiences have positively impacted who I am today. I’m pretty resilient and reflect on what I learned from past experiences to help me deal with obstacles that come up in the present.

My score out of 10:

Mindset 3 - Present-Hedonistic

I tend to live in the moment and do things that make me feel good right now. Pleasure and fun are very important to me and I can be impulsive and sometimes prioritize my enjoyment over getting work done or focusing on my goals for the future. I tend to avoid things that could cause me discomfort even if they could ultimately benefit me.

My score out of 10:

Mindset 4 - Present-Fatalistic

I don’t believe you can really plan for the future, since things are constantly changing and forces outside my control impact my life. No matter what I do, I don’t believe I can really do anything to change the future. Fate determines what happens to us and I’ve learned to accept that.

My score out of 10:

Mindset 5 - Future

I’m mostly focused on my future goals and can forgo short-term pleasures to achieve them. I have a clear vision for my future and a plan to achieve them. I believe that if I work hard, focus and make some short-term sacrifices, I can create a better future for myself. I’m a life-long learner. I’m quite resilient and look for ways to overcome challenges and learn from them.

My score out of 10:

Do you have one predominant mindset? Perhaps like me you have 2 that are equal and one or two with very low scores.

Positive psychology (**) suggests that to have a well-balanced perspective you will ideally have a mindset with an optimal mix of the past, present and future when evaluating experiences, with less emphasis on past negative or present fatalistic thoughts.

Here’s what they recommend:

Higher focus on Past-Positive (Mindset 2)

Moderate focus on the Future (Mindset 5)

Moderate focus on Present-Hedonistic (Mindset 3)

Low focus on Past-Negative (Mindset 1)

Low focus on Present-Fatalistic (Mindset 4)

 Questions for you to consider: 

  1. When you reflect on your scores, how closely does your current focus on each of these perspectives reflect the ideal balanced perspective?
  2. What needs to change for you to have a more balanced perspective?
  3. What specific actions will you take to implement these changes?

Read on for strategies to adjust your mindset to have more balance.


Helpful Hacks to Adjust Your Mindset

How to balance a Past-Negative focus

  • Consciously think back to some positive past experiences you may have forgotten about
  • Be more self-aware and when you find yourself dwelling on something negative in the past, switch to one of these positive memories and replay it
  • Use past mistakes as opportunities for learning and personal growth and appreciate that
  • Set yourself goals that align with your values and aspirations and re-direct your thoughts to those things
  • Treat yourself with the same compassion as you would a friend, reminding yourself that everyone experiences challenges and deserves understanding and support
  • Surround yourself with positivity, seeking out others who will lift you up and share their positive energy
  • Integrate activities that bring you joy into your life


How to balance a Past-Positive focus

  • Be grateful for everything you have in the present moment
  • Explore the lessons you may have overlooked from past challenges
  • Be aware when you’re being overly nostalgic for the past and appreciate the present too
  • Focus on the future by setting goals and design a plan to achieve them
  • Build excitement by anticipating future events
  • Be kind to yourself as you face current challenges
  • Practice mindfulness to help you appreciate the present


How to balance a Present-Hedonistic focus

  • Engage in self-reflection. Consider how are your actions are impacting your life
  • Develop a sense of purpose or direction for the future – what’s one thing you’d really like to achieve?
  • Set a clear goal and make a plan to achieve it
  • Practice moderation to help align your choices and actions with your goals
  • Seek meaningful activities that will contribute to personal growth and benefit you now and in the future
  • Practice mindfulness to help you make conscious choices rather than emotional choices
  • Remember a past positive experience and savor it
  • Monitor indulgent behaviours and consider the future consequences of these actions


How to balance a Past-Negative focus

  • Develop a sense of purpose or direction for the future – what’s one thing you’d really like to achieve?
  • Challenge negative beliefs – are they really true? What else might be true?
  • Practice gratitude for positive experiences in the past and present and for what can happen in the future
  • Focus on what you can control – the choices you make and how you react to different situations
  • Set achievable goals and break them down into small doable steps
  • Celebrate small victories as you progress in achieving your goals
  • Practice self-reflection to understand and recognise your thought patterns and emotions
  • Give yourself permission to do something right now that you’d really enjoy


How to balance a Future-Oriented focus

  • Learn to be more aware of and appreciative of the present moment
  • Set short-term goals
  • Practice mindfulness through breathing, meditation or simply taking time to be more aware of your surrounding
  • Reduce your anxiety about the future by practicing mindfulness and gratitude
  • Take time to savour the good things that are happening right now
  • Don’t just wait for good things to happen in the future, be grateful for what’s happening right now.
  • Take breaks and recharge, don’t focus all your energy on working towards a future goal, set aside time for activities that will help you relax, unwind and rejuvenate
  • Consider starting a gratitude journal


** Boniwell, I., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2004). Balancing time perspective in pursuit of optimal functioning.

In P. A. Linley & S. Joseph (Eds.), Positive psychology in practice (pp. 165-178). Wiley.

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