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Tired of forcing yourself to be happy?
"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called."
~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Here's a little tip to trick yourself into being happy:
It's something you might have already realized and have no doubt been experiencing since you were a kid counting down the days to summer vacay, but there's scientific proof that it's a real thing.
Studies show that the "anticipation" of something can actually be more enjoyable than getting the thing you're anticipating.
That feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen,
is not only a powerful way to savor and boost your mood,
but it's also how to make yourself feel happy!
Did you know that people who are prone to joyful anticipation, and are skilled at obtaining pleasure from looking forward to and imagining future happy events, are especially likely to be optimistic and experience intense emotions?
I've often thought that although surprises are lovely, it's the anticipation of something, no matter how long I have to wait, that gets me excited and lights me up.
Now studies are showing us that people who devote time to anticipating fun experiences are in fact happier.
One such study found that people who just thought about watching their favourite movie actually raised their endorphin levels by 27 percent, suggesting the most enjoyable part of an activity is the anticipation.
We can also think about anticipation like this: It's a 2 for the price of 1.
You end up getting the fantastic thing you're waiting for, AND you get happy anticipating that thing.
So if you're looking for a way to trick yourself into being happy, start anticipating!
By putting something on your calendar today that will make you feel excited.
Then, whenever you need a boost of happiness, remind yourself about it.
And, the best part?
It doesn't have to be a big thing.
I'm not talking about having to plan a big event or holiday away, to increase feelings of happiness.
How about summer drinks with a friend, an outdoor movie or a date just with yourself to the farmers market?
Now, while I don't 100% agree with Mr. Green – there's definitely pleasure to be had in the doing! – I do love this quote and his books:
"The pleasure isn't in doing the thing; the pleasure is in planning it."
~ John Green, Paper Towns
So, what can you put on your calendar today, that's going to bring a smile to your face when you think about it between now and then?
Stop forcing yourself to be happy and try this tip instead – you'll be happy you did!
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