A close friend of mine and I drove to Mississippi a few weeks ago to attend her brother’s wedding.
I was delighted to go, chomping at the bit for an exciting road trip across southeast Texas.
I’ve been entranced with the concept of road trips in general ever since my first solo excursion from Texas to South Carolina just about two years ago. I’m not even sure what excited me more – that I could actually drive 10 hours without falling asleep at the wheel, or that I didn’t end up somewhere out in Arizona instead.
Whoever installed my sense of direction put it in backwards.
And I have to say, I have often felt that way about lots of other areas of my life as well. For instance, for years I have marveled at the sheer oddity of witnessing myself, time and again, look forward to or anticipate an event, only to watch it come and go and realize the idea of it was more fun than the actual happening itself.
Kind of like when the previews make the movie look so much better than it is. Only this time the previews were all in my mind. Literally.
I would say to myself, “Shannon, you must learn how to have fun. You must loosen up.” (If I would forget to say these things to myself, sometimes helpful others would come along and say them for me.)
But then there, in the car on the way back from Mississippi, my friend finally explained it all to me. “Incremental happiness”, she said, “is the state in which the anticipation of an event brings us as much and sometimes more happiness than the event itself.”
She had been reading a book on happiness – I can’t right now recollect its name.
Since then, I have noticed how powerful incremental happiness is – all those moments of up-til-now disregarded tiny bursts of happy – and how they may not add up to the Fourth of July fireworks when the big event comes, but they don’t have to if I’ve been paying attention along the way.
Today’s Takeaway: Where in your life have you been failing to give yourself permission and the right to enjoy the bits of incremental happiness each day offers you? How might your overall satisfaction with your own life increase if you were able to feel happiness even in the smallest moments, in a remembrance, an anticipation, a tiny unexpected ray of sunshine or thoughtful gesture?