Creating Positive Experiences


I’m back from a brief vacation, and getting back to work.  I didn’t go anywhere this time, but chose to explore the Chicago area with my mom (and sometimes with my husband) during her visit.  Since moving to Tinley Park, a Chicago suburb, last summer, I have been focused on my counseling work and on settling into my new surroundings.  This last week was a great opportunity to explore more of Chicago, including some of the Polish neighborhoods (where I can find foods that remind me of my childhood), downtown, and the beautiful botanic garden.  Isn’t it funny how sometimes vacations feel busier than normal life?

Creating positive experiences is fundamental to mental health

I’m telling you this partly to share with you what I’ve been up to, and partly to illustrate a point.  The point being that creating positive experiences, and sharing them with loved ones, is a fundamental and necessary aspect of life and happiness.  This may seem obvious, but I have been amazed by how many people I have talked to who could not remember the last time they had done something enjoyable, just for the fun of it.

Creating positive experiences is part of emotion regulation

The importance of building positive experiences is emphasized in wellness literature, depression literature, and in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  You can’t wait for them to just happen, you have to create them.  In doing so, you create a life worth living, and balance out the struggles and problems which are unavoidable.

There are short term positive experiences, like soothing with the five senses, chatting with someone, or enjoying a treat.  And there are long term positive experiences, like getting an education, building relationships, working toward goals, or learning a skill.  A few tips come to mind:

  • Balance the short term and long term positive experiences, and know when it is worth it to sacrifice short term enjoyment for long term benefits.
  • Keep in mind that everyone has to start at square one.  Building a skill or hobby takes time, and it is important to allow yourself imperfection as you learn.
  • Always have something you can look forward to that day or that week… even if it is just a cup of tea at sunset, a walk, or listening to your favorite music.
  • Build some fun skills that you enjoy (art, sports, games, etc.), and don’t forget to challenge yourself.

What’s your hobby?

During my vacation I took some photos.  This is one of my hobbies, although I am still quite a beginner.  It’s fun in the short run, can be challenging, and it becomes even more satisfying as I learn more about it.  With today’s digital cameras, it is much more affordable than it used to be when people had to use film.  Here are a few of my favorite photos from the botanic garden, which I took during my vacation.  The last flower (the pink one) is a photo my mom took.

Red Tulips

Cactus Center

Poppy Field

Side of Cactus

Yellow Flower

Leafy Cactus

Mom's Flower

Categories : Wellness

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