Think of a really happy experience in your childhood when you had few responsibilities and could go on a vacation with your mind solely on eagerly anticipating how great it would be. Now, imagine if you didn’t know that great thing was coming up, your parent just sprung it on you last minute. How would that experience have been different? According to Sonja Lyubomirsky in The How of Happiness, there are three time periods in which we can experience happiness about an event: before, during, and after. Beforehand happiness includes eagerly anticipating and positively fantasizing. People who put time and effort into this period of being happy tend to be optimistic and positive. Those who savor the present, who mindfully appreciate and sustain pleasurable moments, are less likely to experience depression, guilt, stress, and shame. And people who rekindle enjoyment about a past event and enjoy happily reminiscing are proficient at buffering stress. Think about what time period of happiness you usually engage in, and try to strengthen another one.


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