Predict your way happy

To be honest I thought I was pretty tragic when I started doing this, but after a while it made complete sense and my only regret is that I didn’t start doing it sooner. It runs in the same vein as the money=success section previously, but is much more versatile and applies to all aspects of life. It’s also a great boredom-killer on the tube…

How it works : by ‘predicting’ something bad, you’re pleasantly surprised when it goes well.

What it’s not : Giving up on life and assuming everything is going to be shit.

What it is : squeezing enjoyment out of everyday things for free!

Here’s how it works: At any time of day, whatever I’m doing, wherever I am, I think to myself about my current situation. I then think to myself that a specific negative thing is going to happen, and then see if my prediction was right. For example: While waiting for a bus or a train, I’ll say something to myself such as, “I bet the train’s going to be late“.

Scenario 1: The train is on time – I’m pleasantly surprised and my day just got a bit better

Scenario 2: The train is late – I’m right (arguably more important)

The idea is to be as specific as possible, for events that are out of your control. If the event is too vague, such as ‘I’m going to have a shitty day today‘ then you’ll probably spend a large amount of time being sad before you get your ‘I was right’ moment, by which time the novelty has probably worn off. The reason it needs to be out of your control is because then you cannot blame yourself for the outcome. If you say ‘I’m going to screw this up‘ and you do, you end up in a very negative cycle of self-deprecation. If, however, someone else is responsible, such as the train being late, you get the childish satisfaction of ‘Waheeey you messed up‘, which people may deny that they feel, but everyone does – schadenfreude.

I found that even when the bus or train was really really late, I was still ‘net’ happy, because I’d accurately predicted the outcome. So I started doing it with everything – It’s going to rain today, and I’m going to get soaked on the walk to work – is a good way to get yourself smiling during a downpour. That guy is going to look at me funny – I’ve only got this right once, and it totally took away the anxiety that I usually feel when I think someone’s looking at me weirdly.

After doing this for a while, I stumbled across this awesome article on lifehacker

…which basically says everything I just did, but also goes into some of the science behind it. Essentially, the ‘pleasure’ you feel from being right happens because you’re using your dopamine prediction pathways, the same one’s you use to learn about the world around you, and ‘cheating’ it into thinking it’s enjoying itself.


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