Five Mental Tricks to Improve Your Life

What if you turned on the ingenuity of your brain so you could survive a little better in today's complex world? Mental tricks are original cognitive resources that allow you to break the negative patterns that hinder your well-being.
Five Mental Tricks to Improve Your Life
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 22 January, 2024

Neuroscientist David Eagleman claims that ‘if our brains were simple enough to be understood, we wouldn’t be smart enough to understand them”. Indeed, this organ that weighs just over 1,300 grams and contains one hundred billion neurons is extremely complex. That’s because it has to facilitate our evolution and adaptation to environments that have become increasingly less simplistic.

You might think that you’d like your brain to allow you to be a little happier than you are. However, the brain is an organ that seeks to facilitate our survival as a species. This can cause you to fall prey to rather inflexible patterns, the kinds in which you tell yourself “Better not try it”, “Don’t trust them” or “Be cautious”.

As a matter of fact, often, you let yourself be carried away by certain automatic processes. Although they safeguard you from both real and imaginary dangers, this comes at a cost. That’s because they make you feel increasingly apathetic and less motivated and prepared to work on your dreams and desires. Therefore, you need to reprogram your mind to break these inflexible schemas that veto your well-being.

There are some simple tricks with which you can ignite your ingenuity, innovation, and the kinds of approaches based on lateral thinking that are always so useful. Read on to find out about them.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

-Albert Einstein-

Silhouette of a man representing mind tricks to improve your life
The mind has two great enemies: stress and negative thoughts. Learning tools to manage them will mediate our well-being.

Mental tricks to improve your life

Do you apply any psychological tricks in your daily routine? Do you try to train your brain to be a little more efficient and work for you and not against you? Mind tricks are cognitive strategies with which to create new, healthier, and more efficient ways of thinking and thus improve your life.

There’s no magic in these resources. But there’s ingenuity and there’s commitment. This means you can get involved in the kind of reasoning that, although it requires some effort, is more beneficial. To better understand this need, it’s worth remembering a book that was successful a few years ago. It’s entitled, Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope, (2019) by Mark Manson.

The author of this work compares the mind with a car. He claims that we think it’s our most logical, intelligent, and rational approaches that drive this car but it’s not so. In fact, the one in control is a robot dominated by an impulsive and emotional mind. Therefore, sometimes we need strategies to regain control of our lives and move toward the goals we want.

1. Overcoming pain and frustration

Your brain has a certain tolerance for pain and frustration. Your natural reaction when suffering these experiences is to stop and block them. But, when life is unfair, you must implement active strategies to feel better. However, sometimes you get stuck in that unpleasant space.

In effect, you experience an unfair kind of reality, in which anger and frustration seem like natural emotions. But, getting caught up in negatively valenced emotions can cause you great suffering.

  • Strategy: Accept the discomfort.

We don’t mean you should feel comfortable in uncomfortable experiences but that you should tolerate them. In fact, one of the main mental tricks that you must establish is accepting that discomfort is also part of existence.

To do this, saying the following phrase will help: “I accept this uncomfortable experience. I know that it’s only temporary and that, in the long term, accepting it will allow me to grow as a person”.

2. Finding new opportunities

Do you feel that you’ve reached a dead end? Do you need a change in your life but don’t know where to start? We’ve all experienced moments of personal crisis when we yearn for new horizons and new opportunities to redirect our existential projects.

  • Strategy: Have an open and receptive mind.

One of the most effective mind tricks for connecting with new prospects is to ask yourself questions. This is a simple strategy that consists of making your mind curious, open, and inquisitive: “What do I need right now? Who could I ask for inspiration, advice, or guidance? How would I like to see myself in a year? What change could I make today to achieve that?”

3. Achieving inner calm

Stress is a mental noise that speeds you up, fills up all your psychological spaces, and blocks your ability to reflect and decide. It isn’t easy to achieve an inner calm from which you can make contact with yourself so you can think better, appease your difficult emotions, and look at the world calmly.

However, there’s a simple tool that’ll help.

  • Visualization strategy: your mind is a reservoir of energy.

Anglia Ruskin University, UK conducted an interesting study on the subject of visualization and mental imagery as a therapeutic exercise. It claims that these practices are more useful than we might think. In fact, they can be used as valuable mind tricks to reduce stress and anxiety.

Visualize your mind as a reservoir into which you can only pour healing and nourishing energy. To carry out this action, you must first extract everything that clouds your interior and makes it dirty. Once those toxic elements have been removed, fill it with gratifying things: reading, walks, pleasant conversations, etc. All of this will give you internal harmony and calm.

4. Eliminate your negative thoughts

Negative thoughts are those that rust and corrode your psychological well-being. Everyone has them, but for some of us, they’re exhausting, irrational, and harmful thoughts. If they’re not regulated and managed, they can lead to depression or anxiety disorders.

  • Mind Economy Strategy.

To control the production of your negative thoughts, view them as squatters in your mind. Those that destroy everything and offer you nothing.

Positive and resilient approaches contribute to your well-being and generate profits. Therefore, it’s time to evict those harmful presences that only lead you to ruin.

Woman thinking mind tricks
We can all implement new mental resources and approaches to feel better and optimize our abilities to achieve.

5. Achieving your goals

We all have more than one dream in our hearts, goals that we don’t know how to achieve. If this is your case, try this mental trick. It’s the WOOP method, created by Gabriele Oettingen, Professor of Psychology at the University of Hamburg (Germany) and author of the book, Rethinking Positive Thinking (2014)

With this proposal, she offers a rational, objective, and practical resource to achieve goals in a more thoughtful way.

  • The WOOP strategy is based on the following acronym:
    • Wish. Visualize and objectively detail what you want to achieve.
    • Outcome. The desired result. How will you feel when you achieve what you want? What good will it do you?
    • Obstacle. What difficulties do you think you may encounter?
    • Plan. Detail what tools and plans you’ll put into practice to overcome the above obstacles.

The above strategies are mental tricks that you can learn and integrate into your daily life that’ll improve your well-being, motivation, and ability to achieve. It’s just a matter of committing yourself a little more and dealing with everything that’s happening in your own mental universe.

It’s time to stop thinking and responding on autopilot and develop a more focused and reflective mental approach. Only then, will you be able to improve your life and better adapt to today’s complex reality.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Holmes, P., and Calmels, C., A neuroscientific review of imagery and observation use in sport. Journal of Motor Behavior, Vol. 40, No. 5, 2008, pp433–445.
  •  Pearson, D. G., Mental imagery and creative thought. Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. 147, 2007, pp187–212.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.