Happiness and Anticipation

I am beginning to see the relationship between happiness, anticipation and dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for reward-driven behavior and pleasure seeking. (Psychology Today). When we get a hit of dopamine, we feel good!

Anticipation is the simple act of looking forward; usually to a pleasurable experience but it could also be negative.

In my previous post about Proven Ways to be Happy Again, I mentioned this thing called hedonic adaptation. Basically, we get used to novel things and return to our normal level of happiness. And through reading the books Genius Foods, I learned that the building blocks of dopamine are already present in your body unless something is chemically wrong (malnutrition). So the only way to get a hit of dopamine is to perform something novel and have a pleasurable experience.

So here’s the connection:

new experience –> pleasurable anticipation –> dopamine –> happiness

So by this logic, any new experience that has a pleasurable anticipation will likely give me a hit of dopamine (assuming I actually follow through), which will then give me that feeling of happiness.

By this logic, I should focus my time only on experiences that I feel a pleasurable anticipation for.


See also