CoverIntroductionWellbeing and Its Importance in SchoolsWhat frameworks exist to promote school wellbeing?What is the best approach for my school/district?Valuable Tools and ConsiderationYour Call to ActionStudent Wellbeing InterventionsPositive Emotion Three Good ThingsCounting BlessingsEnvisioning Your Best Possible SelfUnderstanding HumorThree Funny ThingsOutdoor LearningBringing the Outside InBibliotherapyEngagementRecognizing and Utilizing Personal StrengthsARCS Model of CuriosityCarousel BrainstormingGenius HourPerspective Taking and Role-PlayArts IntegrationDrawing and Coloring TherapyCulturally-Enriching and Arts-Based Field TripsCulturally Responsive PracticesSocial Belonging InterventionEmotional Self-Regulation: RULER methodModeling Emotional Self-Regulation SkillsTeacher PraiseRelationshipsModeling Love, Kindness and ForgivenessActive Constructive RespondingDialogue JournalsSecret Strengths SpottingPeer Praise NotesActs of KindnessVolunteeringFast FriendsBuddy BenchMeaningEducating Students about Benefit AppraisalsGratitude LettersSavoring StrategiesTaking in the Good (HEAL)Mental Time TravelBrief Mindfulness ActivitiesMindful BellMindful BreathingBody Scan RelaxationMindful Walking/MovementFive Senses MindfulnessMindful PhotographyMindful Self-CompassionAccomplishmentFuture Thinking & When/Where PlansHope MapG-POWER Goal SettingEmbedded Self-Regulation StrategiesGrowth MindsetGrit and Deliberate PracticeDeveloping Students' Resilience and Coping SkillsHealth and VitalityHealthy Sleep HabitsClassroom Physical ActivityYogaCreative Playground EquipmentHealthy Body Image InterventionStudent-Led Health ProgramSchool-Led Interventions for Teachers and StaffSupporting Teacher AutonomyMindfulness TrainingCompassion TrainingHumor TrainingIncentivizing Physical ExerciseIndividual Interventions for School EmployeesPositive and Reflective JournalingSelf-Regulation and Coping StrategiesSelf-AffirmationSelf Compassion LetterDiscovering and Utilizing Character StrengthsJob CraftingMindfulnessAdditional Interventions to ConsiderDedicated Wellbeing SpacesIndividual Wellbeing Plans for School EmployeesOther ResourcesPROSPER
Addressing Wellbeing In Schools

Mental Time Travel

Keywords: Elementary Education, High school, Middle School

Mental time travel involves both positive reminiscence about past events, as well as positive imagination about future events. Just as with the HEAL process, practicing mental time travel motivates students to focus on and absorb the positive experiences in their lives. Encourage students to share their excitement about an upcoming vacation, birthday, or other positive event. You can also have students bring to mind a favorite memory and picture all the details of that positive event. Though this can be done in a single session, research suggests that practicing daily mental time travel, for at least two weeks, contributes to the most significant improvements in wellbeing (Quoidbach et al., 2009).

Grade Level: All
Materials: None
Duration: 5-10 minutes, repeat as needed.
  1. Have students imagine one or more positive events that could take place in the future, or four positive memories. 
  2. Encourage them to picture as many details of the event as possible in their minds, including any emotions they might experience (or already experienced if reflecting on memories).
  3. Have a few students share their examples with the class, or have them write down what they imagined.

Does it work?

In one study on mental time travel, a group of 210 university students were asked to imagine four positive events that could happen the following day(Quoidbach et al., 2009). Some of the examples students shared were receiving a text message from a significant other, eating at their favorite restaurant, or getting the job they interviewed for. Participants reported a significant increase in happiness and decrease in anxiety by thinking about positive future events, as opposed to negative or neutral ones (Qoidbach et al., 2009). Quoidbach and colleagues (2010) completed an additional study the following year with 282 university students and employees in Belgian. They found that positive mental time travel, both reminiscing about the past and imagining the future, were linked to improvements in positive emotion and life satisfaction (Quoidbach et al., 2010).


Quoidbach J., Berry E., & Hansenne M., & Mikolajczak M.  (2010). Positive emotion regulation and well-being: Comparing the impact of eight savoring and dampening strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(5),368-373.

Quoidbach, J., Wood, A.M. & Hansenne, M. (2009). Back to the future: the effect of daily practice of mental time travel into the future on happiness and anxiety. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(5), 349-355.


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