Find Balance by Accumulating the Positives in Your Life

When life gets hard or when difficult feelings arise, it can seem impossible to recognize the positives in your life.  The Accumulate Positives skill in DBT is all about finding something pleasurable and fun to do to balance out difficult emotions.  There are several ways to build positive experiences into our lives.

Being mindful of the positive experiences that are already present in your day is super important.  When you are not mindful or go through the day on autopilot, you may overlook small positive events that can accumulate into overall happier feelings.  Begin to take note when you are walking to the car from your home on a gorgeous sunny day.  Pay attention to how you feel when you interact with people who you care about.  Notice the body sensations when you laugh at a funny video.  Being mindful of these seemingly insignificant events can create more joy and pleasure in your everyday life.

It's also important to recognize what short-term experiences you can create for yourself right now in order to enhance feelings of well-being.  Remember that creating positive experiences may feel challenging when you're anxious or depressed, but when you can use your Opposite Action skill (acting in ways opposite to your destructive emotion) you can begin to chip away at these difficult feelings and develop a more balanced view of the situation.  Some ways to create short-term pleasant feelings include reaching out to a friend to talk or listening to uplifting music.

Planning positive experiences and creating larger pleasant events that can be accomplished in many smaller steps are also great ways to give your mood a boost!  Life goals and planning parties are great examples of how looking forward to something will help you create a life that you are excited about living.  One fun way that I help teens plan for fun activities is by creating a "Bucket List" of everything they'd like to experience in their lifetime.  


When we are able to choose and engage in pleasant activities, it helps to create balance that allows us to recognize that even when something is difficult, we can still find a reason to make life worth living.  It's important to give yourself permission to enjoy life, even when you're anxious or depressed and to be mindful of the positives as they arise.