The joy of

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       Often, savouring
       the build-up to
       a holiday in an
       unknown place
       gives as much
       pleasure as the
       trip itself

                                                                                                                                                                                      The joy of
                                                                                                                                                                     ou’re 11 years old.      In our instant-gratification culture, moments of genuine
                                                                                                                                                                     In one week, you’ll
                                                                                                                                                                     break for Easter and     expectation are few and far between. Laura Bond reveals
                                                                                                                                                                     you are counting         why anticipation is so worth looking forward to
                                                                                                                                                                     down the days. You
                                                                                                                                                       can feel the tantalising bite of the
                                                                                                                                                       waves on your feet in Cornwall,        But is anticipation becoming a       it!” because young people are
                                                                                                                                                       you can visualise, in minute           lost art? Paul Rozin, professor of   so used to using Google to find
                                                                                                                                                       detail, the conversations you’ll       psychology at the University of      answers instantly.’
                                                                                                                                                       have during sleepovers with            Pennsylvania, thinks so. ‘We’re
                                                                                                                                                       your best friend, you can taste        reducing anticipatory pleasure       Resistance is not futile
                                                                                                                                                       the crackling sweetness of the         by allowing people gratification      Walter Mischel, a psychology

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                                                                                                                                                       Coco Pops you’re only allowed          very easily.’ In a world where we    researcher, demonstrated the

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                                                                                                                                                       on holidays. Silent squeals of         expect everything on demand –        importance of delaying gratifica-
                                                                                                                                                       excitement rush from your belly        instant meals and instant mes-       tion in an experiment he started
                                                                                                                                                       to your throat as you lie awake in     saging, along with growing up        in the 1960s. He offered hungry
                                                                                                                                                       breathless anticipation.               and sex – we’re losing the joy       four-year-olds a marshmallow,
                                                                                                                                                         Anticipatory pleasure is one         that comes with anticipation. Is     but told them if they could wait
                                                                                                                                                       of the most underrated and             our road-runner society leaving      for a researcher to return after
                                                                                                                                                       under-examined emotions. It al-        a generation with a sad, ‘seen-it-   running an errand, they could
                                                                                                                                                       lows us to abandon the banality        all’ contempt?                       have two marshmallows. Those
                                                                                                                                                       of the everyday and revel in a            ‘If you’re used to snapping       who could wait the 15 minutes
                                                                                                                                                       perfect future, seeing the most        your fingers and getting what         would be demonstrating the
                                                                                                                                                       unlikely possibilities in our          you want, you’ll have problems       ability to delay gratification and
                                                                                                                                                       mind’s eye. Recently, researchers      when you face something that         control impulse. Decades later,
                                                                                                                                                       found just anticipating mirthful       takes hard work,’ says Rozin.        the differences between those
                                                                                                                                                       laughter boosts health-protect-        He’s noticed his students are        able to resist temptation and
                                                                                                                                                       ing hormones and reduces               becoming more impatient.             those who ate the marshmallow
                                                                                                                                                       stress. Another study, led by the      ‘You’ll often hear, “I don’t want    right away were dramatic. The
                                                                                                                                                       National University of Singa-          to work for a week to understand     resisters were more likely to
                                                                                                                                                       pore, found prize-winners prefer
                                                                                                                                                       the anticipation of wondering
                                                                                                                                                       what they will win, rather than
                                                                                                                                                                                              Simply anticipating mirthful laughter boosts
                                                                                                                                                       finding out immediately.                health-protecting hormones and reduces stress
[[1L]] . Psychologies . Month 2009                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Psychologies . January 2010 . [[2R]]

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                                                                                            to your life

          have successful marriages,           I made a conscious effort not to           Remember the past                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       to “upstairs outside” – which
        higher incomes, greater career         make the same mistake,’ says               Recalling past pleasures can enhance                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    meant you allowed the boy to
       satisfaction and better health;         Vanessa. ‘Although I had imag-             anticipation. Marvelling at how you and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 touch your fully clothed breasts
       the marshmallow-grabbers were           ined cradling her in my arms and           your friend randomly met on the bus or                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  – to “downstairs inside”. Many
       more troubled, indecisive and           being overcome with emotion,          remembering how you giggled hysterically                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     women who lived through that
       had lower job satisfaction.             on the day, I forced myself to        with your sister-in-law the last time you caught                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             time said the build-up was exqui-
          But if we spend too long             acknowledge I was going to be         up can help transport you to a positive mindset                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              site, so exciting that by the time
       putting off pleasure, it can            exhausted and that I might not        and make you more likely to look forward to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the boy was actually stimulating
       lead to over-anticipation, which        bond with her right away.’            the experience, rather than wishing you were                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 a naked part of your body you

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       inevitably ends in disappoint-             ‘Anticipation involves a delu-     at home on the sofa.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         were totally hot to trot.’

                                                                                                                                            PHOTOGRAPHS: ELIZABETH GIBSON AT LHA REPRESENTS. STYLIING: LILIA TONCHEVA-O’ROURKE. HAIR AND MAKE-UP: ROSIE VON SPRECKELSEN AT CAROL HAYES MANAGEMENT. MODEL: SOPHIA M AT
       ment. We can wait months to             sion that the result will be                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Through a combination of

       see a concert, only to realise          really great,’ says David Gard,                Talk about it                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       peer pressure, porn and aggres-
                                                                                              Numerous psychological studies show
       we’re stuck behind a pillar, or         professor of psychology at San                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     sive marketing (capitalising on
                                                                                              that if we can verbally articulate what
       save the most tasty morsel on           Francisco State University.                    we like about something, it increases
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  adolescents’ desire to grow up
       our plate till last, only to find it’s   ‘That’s not necessarily bad – it’s    our appreciation of it. If you can describe in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  now), kids are finding out about
       cold. Vanessa, 32, an events            a key part of motivation.’            detail what it is you’re looking forward to, you’re                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          life’s pleasures before they have
       manager, spoiled her wedding               Finding pleasure in the ‘before’   more likely to enjoy the actual experience.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  time to ask – or marvel about –
       day by setting expectations too         is not just about optimism, it                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     what they might be like. ‘How

       high. ‘I’d started thinking about       also requires a vivid imagina-                Be open to rewards                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   this instant-gratification culture
       table decorations before my hus-        tion. ‘People who can anticipate               ‘There are potential rewards within the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             will influence our quality of life is
       band, Mark, had even proposed           things more easily are those who               most mundane experiences and some                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   hard to predict,’ says Rozin. It’s
       to me. Growing up, I’d never            can conjure very detailed images               people are much better at spotting                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  certainly an area begging for
       had a big birthday party, and           of the experience,’ says Gard.        those benefits than others,’ says professor of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                more research. But whatever
                                                                                     psychology David Gard. We might realise one
       I guess I decided my wedding was        ‘That’s what advertisers do                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        the future may bring, we can
                                                                                     gym session isn’t going to change our body, but
       going to make up for all those          really well. They try to bring to     we can motivate ourselves to go by imagining
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  revel in the present by bringing
       missed celebrations,’ she says.         life the taste of the first scoop of   how much more we’ll enjoy our dinner, or
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  a little more anticipatory joy
       ‘But on the day, I couldn’t help        ice-cream or bite of a doughnut.’     reminding ourselves we’ll have the chance to                                                                                                                                                                                                      anticipatory pleasure is an           dating, part of the initial thrill   into our lives. We can pursue
       thinking Mark’s vows weren’t                                                  listen to that new album while we train. ‘Those                                                                                                                                                                                                   important bonding ritual in all       lies in slowly discovering the       a new sport or skill in which
       very romantic, my make-up was           The joy of sharing                    people who are responsive to rewards in the                                                                                                                                                                                                       relationships and can play a          secrets of what sex and relation-    the rewards are hard-won, or
       too heavy and the cake didn’t           Savouring plans with a partner        environment generally experience more                                                                                                                                                                                                             powerful role in the connections      ships are all about.                 we can manipulate or prolong
       turn out quite how I imagined.’         is one of our favourite pastimes.     anticipatory pleasure,’ says Gard.                                                                                                                                                                                                                we make. If we anticipate get-           ‘People who grew up in the        our anticipation by spacing out
          According to Fred Bryant and         Indeed, a recent Psychologies                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ting on well with someone,            1950s and before often talk about    the time we have between our

       Joseph Veroff, authors of Savor-        survey found talking about the                  Don’t over-plan                                                                                                                                                                                                                         chances are they’ll pick up on        spending months, even years, in      favourite activities.
       ing (Psychology Press), the way         future or past with a partner was                 There’s a difference between planning                                                                                                                                                                                                 that and respond positively.          that delicious state of tension,        Ultimately, it is a figure from
                                                                                                and savouring. If you’re forever focusing
       to prevent anticipation spoiling        readers’ most enjoyable type                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               While anticipation involves        creeping ever so slowly towards      our childhoods who perhaps
                                                                                                on future consequences, it’s difficult to
       the ultimate experience is to           of conversation. In Savoring,         build an appetite for a future experience, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       picturing what a future experi-       “going all the way”,’ says sex       captures the joy of anticipation
       ‘forget expectations once the           Bryant and Veroff write, ‘We          you can also miss out on the joy of the present.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ence will be like, being uncertain    therapist Bettina Arndt. ‘There      better than anyone – Winnie the
       event occurs’. If we make direct        may become more playful in the        If this sounds like you, try doing something                                                                                                                                                                                                      of the finer details is an essential   used to be a grading system          Pooh: ‘Although eating honey
       comparisons between previous            presence of others than when we       really different – book a new restaurant or see                                                                                                                                                                                                   part of the waiting game. For         where you went from chaste           was a very good thing to do,’
       hopes and the present reality,          are alone, and this increased         a play or band you’d never normally see. When                                                                                                                                                                                                     example, when we first start           kissing to proper smooching,         writes AA Milne, ‘there was a
       we increase the chance of feeling       playfulness makes us more             you know nothing about an upcoming event,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    moment just before you began
       bitter if the experience doesn’t
       live up to our vision. ‘When
                                               spontaneous, more creative,
                                               and more expressive of joy while
                                                                                     it’ll be hard to expect or prepare too much –
                                                                                     and you might look forward to a surprise.                                                                                                                                                                                                         Women who grew up in the 1950s talk about the                              to eat it which was better than
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  when you were, but he didn’t
       I gave birth to my daughter,            we are savouring.’ Sharing                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              delicious thrill of waiting months to ‘go all the way’                     know what it was called.’

[[1L]] . Psychologies . January 2010                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Psychologies . January 2010 . [[2R]]

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