The joy of anticipation

25 Oct The joy of anticipation

As the memory of summer breaks fades and the cold, windy and rainy weather creeps in on us, surely anything to help keep our spirits up must be good? Well, this simple but little known idea might help.

Anticipation! It turns out having something positive to look forward to is one great way to boost one’s happiness!

In fact, research suggests we get as much pleasure, if not more, from looking forward to a holiday as we get from the actually taking a holiday! A study in The Netherlands, published in the Applied Research in Quality of Life examined the happiness levels among 1520 Dutch adults, some of who went on holiday during a 32-week period of the study.

The researchers found that the simple act of planning and looking forward to a holiday – also known as ‘vacation anticipation’ boosted happiness for 8 weeks before the vacation! Rather surprisingly, after the holiday, people who went on holiday were no happier than people who had not been on holiday!

The phenomenon doesn’t just apply to taking holidays though. It applies to the purchase of any desirable possession or experience. Cornell University psychologist Thomas Gilovich examined when and why new purchases give us pleasure. He found that anticipation of experiences was linked to greater happiness, more excitement and less impatience than anticipation of material possessions.

Go ahead, book that holiday for next summer! That should give you something to look forward to and hopefully keep your spirits up through the winter months!