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Practicing optimism

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Tactics, Total Force Fitness
Optimism brings with it a number of health benefits. The good news is you can learn to increase your level of optimism and start enjoying these benefits today.

There are exercises you can do to improve your mindset and your optimism, the belief that things will go well for you in a given situation. This is important because optimism is associated with health benefits such as:

  • less risk of death from heart attack;
  • lower risk of depression following events such as the death or illness of someone close; and
  • better personal relationships.

Military training for contingency planning can help you identify what can or did go wrong as part of your important risk-assessment skills. However, when you transfer these strategies to noncombat life you may find focusing on potential problems hurts more than it helps. Balancing optimism and contingency planning can be difficult, but the good news is that you can learn optimism too. Here are some strategies to get you started.

See it, feel it, do it!

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Tactics, Total Force Fitness
Mental imagery is no magic trick—it’s an essential training tool. Learn why and pick up some tips on how to make these mind rehearsals as productive as possible.


A popular sport psychology technique Warfighters can use is mental imagery. This is the practice of seeing (and feeling) in your mind’s eye how you want to perform a skill, as if you were actually doing it. It can augment your usual training and help you maintain—or even surpass—your current skill level, even when you’re sidelined.

Some of the ways that imagery helps performance include:

  • —  Better decision-making
  • —  Fewer errors
  • —  Improved attention
  • —  Increased confidence
  • —  Reduced stress and anxiety

You can generate imagery in your mind for just about any task (improving your running time or marksmanship, for example). Good mental imagery incorporates all of the senses, and it often helps to listen to a scripted audio recording. You can create your own and/or work with a CSF Prep Master Resilience Trainer-Performance Expert to develop one.

Watching others can also help. In fact, being a spectator can boost learning even more than mental imagery by itself because you’re viewing what you’d like to accomplish rather than conjuring up images with your own mind. Both methods of learning are effective. Observing can be in-person or by video, but you can also combine video/imagery approaches and potentially get even more bang for your buck.

With either approach, or with the combined approach, it is important to “feel” yourself executing the skill, even though you might be sitting or lying down. Of course, imagery doesn’t have to be done while you’re sitting still. Try using imagery in the setting where you’ll actually perform the skill. You can even incorporate it into existing training protocols.

Watch HPRC for future posts where we’ll explain how to create your own imagery. Until then, check out other mental performance skills located in Mind Tactics.

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