We live our lives at least twice. Once when events actually happen and again later when we review those events and organize them into some sort of coherent story. Mentally creating these stories comes naturally (to a greater or lesser degree) to humans, but research published in the British Psychological Society Research Digest suggests you can consciously manipulate your inborn need to connect the dots to feel better about yourself.
The setup for the studies was simple. Scientists rounded up around 700 adults and asked half of them to write about four "chapters" in their life for 10 minutes each. They were asked to think about how these incidents impacted their lives as a whole and how various events were linked together. As a control, the other half wrote similar biographical sketches of famous Americans. All participants' self-esteem was tested before and after the activity.
The results were clear. Whether you wrote about happy or sad memories, or about events in or out of your control, you ended up feeling better about yourself, though not necessarily any happier. The effects, however, only seemed to last a day or two. But that's long enough to give you the boost you need to start a project, face a daunting challenge, or just get over one of those humps in life where you're feeling a bit down on yourself.