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Shawn Achor

Can This Simple Exercise Double Your Happiness?

A celebrated researcher on happiness and human potential, Shawn Achor spent over a decade at Harvard University where he was Head Teaching Fellow for his course in Positive Psychology. Bridging the gap between academic positive psychology research and the public, Shawn has spoken in dozens countries to a wide variety of audiences including bankers on Wall Street, students in Dubai, and CEOs in Zimbabwe, and his TED talk has been seen by over three million people around the world. Shawn appeared on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday” and suggested a simple exercise to help you multiply your happiness levels:

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the anticipation of an event — a weeklong vacation to the beach, a long-overdue visit from a dear friend, a wedding — feels even more enjoyable than the event itself? For days, weeks or months, the excitement builds; then, when the big day arrives, your happiness level doesn’t skyrocket any more than it already has.

Happiness researcher Shawn Achor has studied how to foster happiness and has seen the powerful effects of this type of anticipation. He shared some of his findings on an episode of Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday.”

“One of the things we found that’s so powerful for creating happiness in the present is actually the anticipation of something good that’s happening in the future,” he says. “We know that people actually enjoy vacations more before the vacation than actually on the vacation. The reason for that is because you’re anticipating it.”

Achor suggests using this concept in a simple exercise to multiply the effect of that positivity.

“Think about something you’re really looking forward to and then, in your brain, visualize every detail of that experience,” he says. “Try to live it, because our brain can’t tell much difference between visualization and actual experience.”

The result, Achor says, is momentous. “You’re literally doubling the positive effect upon your life, causing you to not only feel it when it happens, but helping you to feel it now,” he explains. “So, that positive event can be shaping the way you wake up in the morning, the way you interact with your kids, the way that you interact with strangers on the street.”

The Huffington Post/June, 2014