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Harnessing Happiness: Having Something To Look Forward To

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Is having something to look forward to the key to happiness? It might surprise you, but research in the field of positive psychology proves this is absolutely true.

Many people who book our coach certification programs or NLP retreats email us frequently after purchasing the class. Interestingly, sometimes they don’t even have any questions. They’re trying to get “into the mood.” Some students watch all my YouTube videos, visit our Instagram page, and others go through sections of the online training.

Having Something to Look Forward To & Science

Anticipatory Pleasure

Having something to look forward to” is scientifically termed “anticipatory pleasure.”

This pleasure and positive emotions result from anticipating future events. We’re already rewarded with positive emotions we typically experience during the event, even before it happens. Anticipatory pleasure significantly shapes our expectations and responses to future events.

Can antipicatioin of an event cultuate more positive emotions than the event itself?


Cultivating Positive Emotions by Having Something to Look Forward To

Anyone studying the science behind having something to look forward to and happiness will encounter Dr. Elizabeth Dunn (University of British Columbia). This topic is her life’s work.
Discoveries include:

– You can consciously increase anticipation (take note, coaches).
– Immersing yourself in materials related to the upcoming experience (books, movies, articles) can enhance anticipation.
– Anticipating an event can elicit more positive emotions than the event itself.
– It’s wise to delay a positive experience to build excitement leading up to it.

Anticipation of Experiences Brings More Pleasure Than Purchasing Objects and Materials

Dr. Leaf Van Boven’s research also emphasizes anticipation, showing:

– Buying life experiences offers more pleasure than objects or materials.
– Anticipating life experiences brings more positive emotions than purchasing objects or experiences.

Having Something to Look Forward To Acts Like a Motivational Force

Having something to look forward to helps us navigate life’s challenges; it increases our ability to cope with stress and the feeling of being stuck. It’s the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, making life’s journey much more enjoyable.

Moreover, it cultivates hope, optimism, and creativity, all directly linked to happiness.

One Happy Event Can Yield Multiple Positive Emotions

A single happy event allows us to extract more positive emotions than we typically would.

Consider the phases for each event:

1. Looking forward to the event.
2. Enjoying the moment itself (savoring, in positive psychology).
3. Sharing the experience with others.
4. Reflecting immediately after the experience.
5. Recalling the experience in the future.

This approach lets any happy experience inspire more!

Tips to Always Have Something to Look Forward To

1. Set both small and large goals.
2. Use NLP for future pacing.
3. Cultivate a routine of anticipation.
4. Discuss future anticipations with others or journal about them.
5. Engage with books or movies about the experience.

How to Use NLP to Cultivate Anticipatory Pleasure?

NLP Future Pacing

Future Pacing involves associating into a future experience, making the event feel real in the present, inclusive of positive emotions.

NLP Technique to Cultivate Anticipatory Pleasure

This process, including envisioning activities that enhance anticipation and experiencing actions leading up to the event, enriches the anticipation.

Step 1:

Step into the future moment of the experience, and associate.

This is a future pace, as previously described. You see what you would see, hear what you would hear, and feel what you would feel.

Step 2:


Step 3:

What specifically could serve as an activity to enhance your anticipation? Think of things like watching YouTube videos, talking to others, reading books, looking at pictures. Don’t stop easily, really think of anticipation as a goal in itself.

Step 4:

Imagine doing the activities found under step 3. And act as if you are doing these experiences right now. Make each activity as real as possible, and also experience it through your own eyes.

Step 5:

Experience all actions you will do leading up to the experience, for example, packing your suitcases if it is a vacation.

Step 6:

Eventually, you will end up in the event itself. Enhance what you would see, hear, and feel.

Giving Experiences to Others

Lastly, Dr. Elizabeth Dunn’s research on “prosocial spending” shows giving to others correlates with happiness. Planning gifts like vacations or shared experiences can amplify anticipatory pleasure for both giver and receiver.

In conclusion, looking forward to something transcends mere daydreaming, serving as a potent enhancement to our well-being. By incorporating simple daily anticipations or NLP’s future pacing, we foster a positive outlook that transforms our present, infusing it with joy, hope, and purpose.

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