What Mr. Bean Can Teach Us About Contentment

Anticipation is a key component of joy.

Marianna Saver
Publishous

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One of my first childhood memories is my father making unsolicited impressions of Mr. Bean at the dinner table. He was a fan, which made me a fan. We would spend most Saturday afternoons crouched on the sofa in front of the large screen, waiting for the opening choral theme tune, which always made me a bit anxious and ecstatic. I never really enjoyed any episode as much as I enjoyed those few moments of expectation before it started.

Often, as recent studies suggest, it’s the wait for something to happen rather than the experience itself that excites us. In other words: we revel in the prospect of an event more than in the savoring of that event. That explains why most of us who work a regular 9 to 5 are generally in a good mood on Fridays. Not because Fridays mark the end of the workweek but because they anticipate the prospect of a weekend of fun and rest: Looking ahead brings us more joy than looking back.

According to a 2010 psychological study about the association between vacations and happiness that was published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, just planning or anticipating your trip can make you happier than taking it. The authors of the study — researchers from the Netherlands — interviewed about 1,500 people, including 970…

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Marianna Saver
Publishous

I write to understand what I don’t know. I also send monthly love notes: bit.ly/themorningair