Anticipation and Your Thoughts Can Bring Happiness

A while back, I read an article that claimed just planning a vacation could reduce stress and raise your mood even if you never actually took the vacation. I thought that was really interesting. I tried it. I surfed around the internet day-dreaming of where I’d love to go and what I’d do. I closed my eyes and imagined relaxing by a nice pool. Picturing those images in my mind really did feel nice!

Lately, my therapist has encouraged me to make a list of the things I want in life–no matter how big. She says to write them down using happy, descriptive words and to look at my list every morning and night. She told me that reading my list should make me feel good as well as inspired. I’ve read this advice in other places as well. Of course, there is also a theory that we attract the things we think about and many self-help authors have written about it. For example, Wayne Dyer, (one of my favorites,) often approaches this topic.
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Today I was thinking about this theory that just planning a vacation can bring happiness and I tried to find the original article I read. I didn’t find the same one, but I did find this one about the study that supported it. This article also claims that a person gets more peace and happiness from planning the vacation than they get from actually taking it! The study found that people get an average of 8 weeks of happier attitudes while anticipating a vacation, but the results quickly disappeared when the vacation was over.

While searching, I also found many articles about the connection between happiness and anticipation. One claimed that people get just as much happiness from thinking about watching a favorite movie as they did from actually watching the movie! There were several studies indicating that anticipation of good things is a mood-booster.

Just another reminder that we can control our happiness by directing our thoughts towards pleasant topics! I’m off to go think about good things now 🙂


  • Curtis

    Vacations should be a continuous part of our lives. A study of vacations I read in my doctoral studies supports the positive attributes of vacations on our lives, especially our children’s lives. The post-vacation blues can be reduced by planning post-vacation activities which can be writing about the trip and putting it in a journal to reflect on or even Yelping your experiences to provide feedback to the restaurants & businesses you visited. Frame pictures & decorate your home with some keepsakes keeps those memories fresh.

    The next vacation will allow you to take your travel experience from the last & apply it to make your next even more memorable, relaxing & fun. You know who needs sleep & when, how much energy each has to do the activities, and how to budget effectively.

    • lifeasyoumakeit

      Great ideas, Curtis! I love the idea of keeping the vacation memories alive. I made a “book” from our last trip and my son enjoys looking at the photos from our “special trip.” And I definitely learned some lessons for our next trip as far as planning meals and sleeping….

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