We can potentially experience joy during any phase of an experience. There is certainly joy to be found in the moment. You can also find or create joy in reliving memories of moments, as you’ve done in some of the previous exercises. Now you’re going to work towards experiencing the joy of positive anticipation, and you can do that through initiating or expanding upon a plan for the future.
Your plan should be for something positive and also realistic. What is something you want to do that you truly believe is possible to accomplish and you are fairly certain it will bring you joy when it happens? Here are some examples, to help you get the
1. Doing something special with a friend
2. Paying off a debt
3. Taking a vacation to a special place
4. Achieving a milestone in your career
5. Completing a creative project
6. Making a big purchase
An important part of joy is not just feeling it now but believing wholeheartedly that you will continue to experience joy in the future, come what may. So, as you elaborate on this plan, you will want to reflect on both how amazing it will feel when you achieve it and how purposeful, committed, and proud you get to feel as you take the steps towards making it happen.
You might start planning this project in your mind. Alternatively, you can enjoy a more immersive experience by more fully engaging in the planning. Add specific deadliness on your calendar, makes notes on index cards, pull out your calculator to crunch some numbers, download a new app to help keep you on track, whip up a spreadsheet, jot notes on post-its to leave around your house, etc.
Remember that, as you plan, you want to be sure you’ve got two parallel tracks going – one for working on logistics, and one for letting yourself feel the positive emotions associated with the realities and eventualities of the plan. In this way, you are teaching your brain to anticipate joy. You are telling it what future occurrences are likely to be joyous for you.
In the future, when you experience those positive feelings, they will resonate with you more deeply and be easier to access as joyful memories later on.