It’s been a long day at work and it’s only Monday.

You think to yourself:

“OH NO!!!, I have 4 more days of this, however I can get through this because at the end of the week our family holiday awaits.”

Does that bring you happiness, knowing a family holiday awaits?

It is not something I thought too much about until I started to research into what leads to people being happy.

Something stood out to me.


Anticipation can boost your happiness.

What I discovered was looking forward to something in anticipation is found to have as much of an impact as the actual attainment. The build up to such things as an event, a favourite meal, a holiday, provides us with anticipatory joy, which makes us feel good.

It has been proven to bring you happiness.

study by Brian Knutson of Stanford University discovered, ‘just looking at the object of our desire activates neural signals associated with the release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter released during reward signalling) in the brain’. The research concludes we not only get happiness from attaining, consuming or receiving, we also get happiness from the anticipation.’

Another point the research uncovered was that anticipatory joy assists us in accomplishing more challenging goals by giving us the determination and excitement to complete more difficult tasks.

If you have set a goal to lose weight, save a certain amount of money the anticipation of the reward for achieving that goal can bring happiness to our lives.

Children have so many things to look forward too. As a parent or teacher you can help cultivate happiness in your children/students. Here is how you can do it:

In the full Growing With Gratitude program (both our SCHOOLS & FAMILY) anticipation is part of our Positive Reflection Habit of Happiness. The activity is called Future Rewards. Here it is for you to try:

Future Rewards: In your Gratitude Journal list three things you are looking forward to e.g. a birthday party, sporting match, a family holiday.

Parent/Caregiver Note:
Research has proven that the feeling of anticipation for future events, elevates levels of happiness. This is because it encourages the individual to focus on positive things happening in their life.

Remind children:
Future rewards can be any event happening in their life at the time. Eg. Going to a friend’s house on the weekend or going on a family holiday.

Guiding questions:

  • Why are you looking forward to these events? 
  • How will these things make you happy? 

If you think someone you know will benefit from this article feel free to share.
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Twitter: @grow_gratitude
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