How to Hunt the Good Stuff: Optimism and Its Impact on Your Life

As humans, our natural inclination is to see - and expect - the negative. It’s something called “negativity bias,” and it begins in infancy. It’s a leftover vestige of our ancestors, an adaptation we needed to keep us safe from potential harm. 

Today, however, we understand that focusing on the negative can have severe consequences on our emotional, mental, and physical health. 

Army mental health and resiliency specialists know that focusing on the negative can be damaging to soldiers, too. That’s why soldiers learn to “Hunt the Good Stuff” (HTGS). It’s a program designed to increase resiliency with troops and their families, therefore positively affecting both the military mission and the troops as individuals. 

Resilience - or the mental ability to overcome obstacles - isn’t just good for your mental health. Studies show that those who practice gratitude and hone their resiliency skills experience less stress and anxiety, enjoy better sleep, and lower their risk of heart disease and other physical ailments. 

How You Can Hunt the Good Stuff

Resiliency isn’t just for military servicemembers. Everyone can - and should - learn these skills.

The premise of HTGS is simple: instead of focusing on the negative (like our brains are naturally inclined to do), you can intentionally “hunt” the positive. It’s all about retraining your brain to find the good in a situation and to experience gratitude for what’s going right.

The HTGS Journal

Start Hunting the Good Stuff by keeping a journal. Each day, seek out three positive things to write in your journal. It can be something seemingly small, like a co-worker giving you a compliment or seeing a beautiful sunrise. It can also be something more substantial, like getting a promotion, hearing from a long-lost friend, or hitting a weight loss goal.

Every day, Hunt the Good Stuff by writing down three good things in your journal.

Then, next to each item, reflect on that experience. Answer the following questions about each entry on your list:

  • Why was this experience or event important to you?
  • What led up to this good thing happening?
  • What can you do to enable more of this good thing to happen in your life?
  • How did you or other people contribute to this good thing? 
  • How might you be able to share this good thing with others?

The more you practice, the more you’ll get used to Hunting the Good Stuff.

In essence, you’ll retrain your brain, teaching it to react optimistically to situations rather than focusing on the negative.

That optimism will have a positive impact on your job, your relationships, and your overall physical and mental health.

Give it a try! Hunt the Good Stuff this week, and let us know what you think.

Until next time, take care of yourself and one another.