You’ve heard us talk about how optimism is linked to a longer, healthier life. A Mayo Clinic study found that optimists were 50% less likely to die early, compared to pessimists. Researchers say it’s because negative emotions trigger the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which crushes our immune system.

So what if you don’t have a naturally sunny disposition? You can train yourself to be more optimistic. That’s according to behavioral psychologist Dr. John Malouff from the University of New England. He says a big part of being optimistic is thinking about your life in the future and imagining you’ve accomplished your goals. Dr. Malouff did 29 different studies on this and found the visualization exercise produced a significantly greater boost in positivity than any other exercise in optimism training. That’s because when we picture ourselves happy and successful in the future, we start focusing on positive outcomes and we start planning how we’ll get there.

So start visualizing yourself years from now, happy and content, having achieved your goals, and then you will be an expert optimist. And don’t forget the reason you are doing this… the Mayo Clinic study found that optimists were 50% less likely to die early, compared to pessimists.