Think how happy you feel when you’re looking forward to something, whether it’s a holiday, the latest movie you want to see or seeing how the last few pages turn out in the novel you are reading. Research has shown that anticipating something can be a powerful, positive emotion that can help us live happier lives. Researchers tested a theory that anticipation arouses more intense emotion than retrospection. In other words, would people enjoy looking forward to things much more than looking back on them afterwards?
The researchers put study participants through five experiments in which they were asked to contemplate past or future emotional events, including a family event or favorite vacation they encountered. They then measured their emotional reactions to both anticipating these events and looking back on them and discovered people have more intense feelings before events actually happen. For example, participants got more excited about a ski holiday in the future than they did about a ski holiday in the past, both hypothetical and real. There is some debate on time between events. Meaning, does that anticipation build more if the event or movie premiere is only a few days or week away, compared to a month.
We can assess the same when it comes to BDSM. The anticipation before the first strike of a crop against the skin. As the hand raises, and the moment before it makes contact with the skin. Bounding someone or tying them up and going through the process of preparing to take the photos, tends to bring more joy than taking the photo itself. The anticipation as an order is given and that feel of the power exchange between the two.
These moments, the short time before an event is to happen or we are to be involved with, have demonstrated higher levels of happiness than the event itself. Because we are creating the imagery in our mind. We are building it up. We are imaging what will happen and how, how we may react, to what we may sense and so on. It plays on so many levels of the human condition.
We tend to experience more intense emotions about future events than those in the past. This is because, on the whole, we have an expectation that future events will make us feel more emotional than ones that have passed. On top of this, we are also more likely to talk about how excited we are about something we have planned compared to something we have already done.
Although nostalgia can be part of a happy life, researchers believe there is much to be said for anticipating events, to the extent that it can help improve people’s well-being. That it is a major component of of our satisfactory responses. Whether it’s planning a trip to an exotic destination, thinking about what new restaurant to go to or when that next play session will be, we feel really good when we say, “I can’t wait for the next time we play, next movie in the franchise or book we may read in the series,” versus, “remember how much fun it was last time?”
While remember past experiences makes us happy, that nostalgic feeling, if we know that another encounter is on the horizon, that anticipation far outweighs the past memory. While I enjoy reminiscing, I am always look forward to the next time with her…
What are your thoughts? Do you get really excited thinking about the next time? How much does that anticipation build for you before a scene or play date that might be a few days or week away?