Psychological Research Shows Us How To ‘YOLO’ The Right Way

The belief that we should live life to the fullest is by no means a flawed concept, but we must not ignore its downsides. When we engage in thrills for short-term pleasure, we run the risk of building up stress in our future. For example, if we max out our credit cards to support our current way of life, we are setting ourselves up for a very un-YOLO future.

Here are two science-backed tips to help you get YOLO right.

#1. Get a grip on yourself

Self-control is one of the most important factors that contribute to happiness. How do you mobilize your self-control resources? A recently published study in frontiers in psychology has an answer.

The authors suggest that there are four main ways we can exercise self-control in an enticing situation. They cite fighting the urge to smoke as an example. We can:

  1. Choose the situation. This includes staying away from environments where you know other people will smoke and feel you might be tempted to indulge, too.
  2. Shift your attention. This strategy involves shifting your attention from the unwanted craving (e.g., cigarettes) to something more pleasurable and healthy (e.g., an upcoming vacation).
  3. Reassess the urge. Here you are considering the stimulus in terms of its negative effects (smelling bad, bad breath, scratchy throat, etc.) rather than its appealing properties (e.g. calming the nerves).
  4. Suppress the urge. Here you suppress the desire simply by your willpower.

While each strategy can be effective on its own, the researchers found that reassessing urges and shifting one’s attention are the most effective ways to exercise self-control in uncomfortable situations.

#2. Appreciate the little things

Gratitude helps you appreciate what you have. Psychologists have found that gratitude increases happiness over time.

You can start building gratitude simply by observing the good in life around you. Being with your family and friends can help you be more grateful.

According to a study by psychologist Xijing Wang, published in The Journal of Positive PsychologyThere are a few other simple ways to cultivate gratitude in our daily lives, such as:

  1. Spend a few minutes each day reflecting on the thankful things in life
  2. Soak up the sun outside
  3. Showing appreciation for others through simple gestures of gratitude (e.g. writing a thank you note)
  4. Keep an evening gratitude journal

Expressing gratitude not only makes you feel good, but also makes the world a better place for others.

It can also benefit your physical health. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that keeping a gratitude journal improved diastolic blood pressure. Another study published in Applied Psychology found that focusing on things to be thankful for each night before bed increased calmness before falling asleep.


The YOLO mentality allows us to live in the present and take on daring challenges that we wouldn’t otherwise have. However, if you align such a mindset with long-term perspectives, exercise self-control, and be thankful for what you have, you will have many chances to take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *