Did you know that anticipating a pleasurable activity can increase your happiness? Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, wrote: “To get the most bang for the happiness buck, I’ve realized that I should complete four stages of reveling in a moment of happiness: anticipate with pleasure, savor the moment as I experience it, express my happiness to myself or others, and reflect on a happy memory.” This seems pretty intuitive, but is a great reminder.

This is the perfect time of year to use anticipating as a way to increase the happiness of a pleasurable event. Just look at the excited faces of all the children eagerly waiting for Christmas; The joy in anticipation is not lost on them. As adults, we sometimes need to work a little harder at getting full enjoyment from our lives and activities. One way we can do this is spending some time thinking about pleasurable activities before we do them. As you’re wrapping gifts, imaging your childs squeals of delight adds to your enjoyment. Enjoy the process of planning your vacation, not just the vacation itself. Anticipating happiness and fun sets a positive tone and positive thoughts. And we know that thinking positively is likely to lead to feeling and acting happily.

Sharon Martin, LCSW © 2013

Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in Northern California, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in CA where she is available for online counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and write the blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today.

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