On Practicing Negative Visualization

Let’s practice negative visualization.

Imagine the following scenarios.


All of a sudden, you lose the ability to breathe as you do now. As a consequence, your daily life becomes so much harder, because your breathing capacity is now 1/10 of what you had before.


An international crime organization somehow chooses to steal money from your bank account. They perform a perfect crime. Your money’s gone within a second, and you are left with nothing.


An international crime organization kidnaps you. They put you in a small cell where you have little freedom of movement. They even control your mind with a special machine so you can’t think or feel as you do now.


You argue with your loved one. She/he storms off. Then a car crashes into her/him right in front of your house. She/he’s dead. (Sorry about imaginary-killing your loved one…)


Your loved one argues with you. You storm off. Then a car crashes into you right in front of your house. You are dead. (Again, my bad for imaginary-killing you…)


I hope none of these has actually happened to you before (surely not 5, unless you’re a zombie). Provided that’s the case, consider what you have now.

You can breathe as much as you like.

You’ve got money… at least you’ve got more than nothing.

You are free to move, to think, and to feel.

Your loved one is alive.

You are alive.

When you lose something, you’ll be able to stand in a position where you can value what you lost from more objective a point of view.

Negative visualization is an exercise that allows you to value what you have without losing it… and to be grateful for it.

I had been practicing this exercise without putting a name on it.

When my eye got injured… when I got spiked in Philippines… when I lost my cash card in Thailand…

My attitude was like this: Too bad, it could have been worse, and let’s be grateful that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.


I learned about negative visualization from “A Guide to the Good Life: the Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” by William Irvine recently. Negative visualization was one of very useful techniques Roman stoics used in living their lives.

(I highly recommend you to read this book… at the time of writing this, the kindle version is available for only $1.72, which I think is a bargain.)

I believe it will be useful to do negative visualization on a regular basis and improve the quality of my life to some extent. So, my plan is to turn it into one of my daily habits.

If you use Lift, consider adding “Practicing Negative Visualization” to your daily habits as well.