Basics How Psychology Can Improve Your Life By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry Facebook Twitter Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. Learn about our editorial process Updated on January 16, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief Print How can psychology apply to your everyday life? Do you think that psychology is just for students, academics, and therapists? Think again. Because psychology is both an applied and a theoretical subject, it can be used in a number of ways. While research studies aren't exactly light reading material for the average person, the results of these experiments and studies can have significant applications in daily life. The following are some practical uses for psychology in everyday life. 1 Motivation Caiaimage/Sam Edwards / OJO+ / Getty Images Whether your goal is to quit smoking, lose weight, or learn a new language, lessons from psychology offer tips for getting motivated. To increase your motivational levels when approaching a task, use strategies derived from research in cognitive and educational psychology. Introduce new or novel elements to keep your interest high.Vary repetitive sequences to help stave off boredom.Learn new things that build on your existing knowledge.Set clear goals that are directly related to the task.Reward yourself for a job well done. 2 Leadership Morsa Images / Getty Images It doesn’t matter if you’re an office manager or a volunteer at a local youth group: Having good leadership skills will probably be essential at some point in your life. Not everyone is a born leader, but a few simple tips gleaned from psychological research can help you be a better leader. One of the most famous studies on this topic looked at three distinct leadership styles. Based on the findings of this study and subsequent research, practice some of the following when you are in a leadership position. Offer clear guidance, but allow group members to voice opinions.Talk about possible solutions with members of the group.Focus on stimulating ideas and be willing to reward creativity. 3 Communication Westend61 / Getty Images Communication involves much more than how you speak or write. Research suggests that nonverbal signals make up a huge portion of our interpersonal communications. To communicate your message effectively, you need to learn how to express yourself nonverbally and to read the nonverbal cues of those around you. Use good eye contact.Start noticing nonverbal signals in others.Learn to use your tone of voice to reinforce your message. 10 Tips for Improving Your Nonverbal Communication 4 Emotional Intelligence Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images Much like nonverbal communication, the ability to understand your emotions and the emotions of those around you plays an important role in your relationships and professional life. The term emotional intelligence refers to your ability to understand both your own emotions and those of other people. Your emotional intelligence quotient is a measure of this ability. According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, your EQ may actually be more important than your IQ. To become more emotionally intelligent, consider some of the following strategies. Carefully assess your own emotional reactions.Record your experiences and emotions in a journal.Try to see situations from the perspective of another person. 5 Decision-Making Tara Moore / Getty Images Research in cognitive psychology has provided a wealth of information about decision making. By applying these strategies to your life, you can learn to make wiser choices. The next time you need to make a big decision, try using some of these techniques. Use the “six thinking hats” approach by looking at the situation from multiple points of view, including rational, emotional, intuitive, creative, positive, and negative perspectives.Consider the potential costs and benefits of a decision.Employ a grid analysis technique that gives a score for how a particular decision will satisfy specific requirements you may have. Press Play for Advice On Dealing With Decision Fatigue Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how to manage feelings of decision fatigue and how you can avoid it. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts 6 Memory Courtney Icenhour / freeimages.com Have you ever wondered why you can remember the exact details of childhood events, yet forget the name of the new client you met yesterday? Research on how we form new memories as well as how and why we forget has led to a number of findings that can be applied directly in your daily life. To increase your memory power: Focus on the information.Rehearse what you have learned.Eliminate distractions. 11 Methods for Improving Your Memory 7 Money Management JGI/Jamie Grill / Blend Images / Getty Images Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleague Amos Tversky conducted a series of studies that looked at how people manage uncertainty and risk when making decisions. Subsequent research in this area, known as behavior economics, has yielded some key findings that you can use to manage your money more wisely. One study found that workers could more than triple their savings by using some of the following strategies. Don’t procrastinate. Start investing in savings now.Commit in advance to devote portions of your future earnings to your retirement savings.Try to be aware of personal biases that may lead to poor money choices. 8 Academic Success Westend61 / Getty Images The next time you're tempted to complain about pop quizzes, midterms, or final exams, consider that research has demonstrated that taking tests actually helps you better remember what you've learned, even if it wasn't covered on the test. A study found that repeated test-taking may be a better memory aid than studying. Students who were tested repeatedly were able to recall 61% of the material, while those in the study group recalled only 40%. How can you apply these findings to your own life? When trying to learn new information, self-test frequently in order to cement what you have learned into your memory. 9 Productivity Westend61 / Getty Images There are thousands of books and magazine articles telling us how to get more done, but how much of this advice is founded on actual research? Take the belief that multitasking can help you be more productive. In reality, research has found that trying to perform more than one task at a time seriously impairs speed, accuracy, and productivity. Use lessons from psychology to increase your productivity more effectively. Avoid multitasking when working on complex or dangerous tasks. Focus on the task at hand. Eliminate distractions. 10 Health Thomas Barwick / Stone / Getty Images Psychology can also be a useful tool for improving your overall health. From ways to encourage exercise and better nutrition to new treatments for depression, the field of health psychology offers a wealth of beneficial strategies that can help you to be healthier and happier. Studies have shown that both sunlight and artificial light can reduce the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.Research has demonstrated that exercise can contribute to greater psychological well-being.Studies have found that helping people understand the risks of unhealthy behaviors can lead to healthier choices. 4 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Thaler RH, Benartzi S. Save More Tomorrow™: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving. J Political Econ. 2004;112(S1):S164-187. doi:10.1086/380085 Chan JC, McDermott KB, Roediger HL. Retrieval-induced facilitation: initially nontested material can benefit from prior testing of related material. J Exp Psychol Gen. 2006;135(4):553-71. doi:10.1037/0096-3422.214.171.1243 Ophir E, Nass C, Wagner AD. Cognitive control in media multitaskers. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2009;106(37):15583-7. doi:10.1073/pnas.0903620106 Solberg PA, Halvari H, Ommundsen Y, Hopkins WG. A 1-year follow-up of effects of exercise programs on well-being in older adults. J Aging Phys Act. 2014;22(1):52-64. doi:10.1123/japa.2012-0181 By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.