A Psychologist Shows Us 2 Ways We Can YOLO The Right Way
While the YOLO mindset bolsters thrill-seeking behavior, managing its after-effects ensures a fulfilling life.
By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | September 21, 2022
The belief that we should live life to its fullest is by no means a flawed concept, but we must not ignore its downsides. When we engage in thrill-seeking behavior for short-term pleasure, we run the risk of building up stress in our future. For instance, if we max out our credit cards to support our current way of life, we are setting ourselves up for a very un-YOLO future.
Here are two science-backed tips to help you YOLO the right way.
#1. Get a grip on yourself
Self-control is one of the most important contributors to happiness. How do you muster your self-control resources? A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology has an answer.
The authors suggest there are four primary ways we can exert self-control in a tempting situation. They use fighting off the urge to smoke as an example. We can:
- Select the situation. This involves steering clear of environments where you know other people will be smoking and you feel you might be tempted to indulge as well.
- Shift our attention. This strategy involves shifting your attention away from the unwanted desire (i.e., cigarettes) to something more pleasant and wholesome (e.g., an upcoming vacation)
- Reappraise the urge. This is where you reconsider the impulse in light of its negative effects (smelling bad, bad breath, scratchy throat, etc.) instead of its appealing qualities (e.g., calming one's nerves).
- Inhibit the urge. Here, you simply suppress the desire through your willpower.
While each strategy can be effective in its own right, the researchers found that reappraising the urge and shifting one's attention are the most powerful ways to exert self-control in uncomfortable situations.
#2. Appreciate the little things
Gratitude helps one appreciate what one has. Psychologists find that, over time, feeling grateful boosts happiness.
You can start building gratitude by simply observing the goodness in life around you. Being around your family and friends can help you feel more grateful.
According to research by psychologist Xijing Wang published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, there are a few other easy ways to cultivate gratitude in our daily lives, such as:
- Spending a few minutes every day in reflection of the grateful things in life
- Basking in sunshine outside
- Showing appreciation for others through simple gestures of gratitude (e.g., writing a thank you note)
- Keeping an evening gratitude journal
Expressing gratitude not only helps you feel good about yourself but also makes the world a better place for others.
It can also benefit your physical health. One study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that keeping a gratitude journal improved diastolic blood pressure. Another study published in Applied Psychology found that focusing on things to be grateful about before bed each night increased pre-sleep calmness.
The YOLO mindset allows us to live in the present and take up daring challenges that we otherwise would not. However, aligning such a mindset with long-term perspectives, practicing self-control, and being thankful for what you have will ensure that you have many chances to take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.