Does a heightened sense of anticipation provide more enduring happiness?Natalie Thornburn
For the majority of us, happiness can be easily identified as a feeling. It is not something that we generally need to define in words; yet we are able to categorise the concept of happiness in to a range of positive emotions such as joy, contentment, pride, pleasure and satisfaction.
The anticipation of an event when shared with a group of people, can lead to a greater sense of belonging and acceptance among peers. For example, the build up to a birthday or holiday can create excitement and joy. However, there seems to be an increase in community spirit and universal excitement for key holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. This is the perfect opportunity to promote joy and excitement in a business setting, creating anticipation and happiness amongst colleagues. A bespoke corporate gift hamper can provide the recipient with great pleasure, but it can also bring joy to the sender. This anticipation and excitement can create a feeling so profound, that the anticipation can provide happiness in itself! We allow ourselves to construct an idea of what may happen, and the reaction based on the expectations about what’s coming. Research indicates that people tend to overemphasise the profoundness of future events, and are inclined to underestimate the possibility that the outcome will be negative. The build up itself could actually turn out to be more exciting than the event.
So can the anticipation of an event or gift giving result in a greater sense of happiness? Research has shown that the anticipation of something can lead to powerful emotions that contribute to our general wellbeing and happiness. Psychologist’s Van Boven and Ashworth conducted a study to test the theory that anticipation can lead to a more amplified sense of happiness.
Their research concluded that we generally experience more intense emotions about events that we are looking forward too, as opposed to events that have already happened. This could be due to the fact that we generally have an expectation about how happy future events will make us feel. Although it’s nice to reminisce on old memories, our expectations can lead to excitement. It can be a great ‘feel good’ factor to have something to look forward to, and the anticipation of events can help improve a person’s well-being.
So can gift giving improve a person’s well-being? For some the act of giving a gift can be as exciting as receiving one. Anything that makes us feel good, or happy will contribute to an improvement to our well-being, and pretty much every aspect of your life can. Factors including an enjoyable career, regular exercise and good diet, sufficient sleep, a good friendship network, a sense of belonging and an intimate relationship with a partner. So if you are working towards a target or promotion at work, or have an event such as a birthday approaching, the anticipation of reaching the end goals, or event, could make the results much more enjoyable. A positive contribution to your state of well-being is therefore linked with being happy, which could suggest that a heightened sense of anticipation could indeed provide more enduring happiness.