It’s great to have something to look forward to. You become excited about the event for days, weeks, or even years before it actually happens. When the event occurs, you seem to appreciate it even more than you otherwise would have. As it turns out there is something special about looking forward to future events.
Something to Look Forward To:
One study asked participants to think about their Thanksgiving holiday both 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after. They were specifically asked to predict or remember their emotional reactions to the holiday. The researchers found that participants experienced significantly more intense positive emotions when anticipating Thanksgiving than when reminiscing about it. The same study found that negative emotions were also more intense when anticipating negative events versus remembering negative events. So, thinking obsessively about an upcoming doctor’s visit, for example, isn’t going to do you any favors. The future appears to be more intense primarily because people rehearse future events more extensively than past events, thereby intensifying the emotion in question.
Thinking about things that you are looking forward to can make you significantly happier. So, spend some time each day thinking about events you are looking forward to (but not events you are dreading). Better yet, make a habit of thinking about 3 things that you are looking forward to (dates, vacations, etc.) every night. If you don’t have any, then make some plans!
Van Boven, Leaf, and Laurence Ashworth. “Looking forward, looking back: anticipation is more evocative than retrospection.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 136.2 (2007): 289.