- How are you feeling right now?
- If you’re in a relationship, do you think you’ll be happy with your boyfriend in a year’s time?
Most of us would assume these questions have nothing to do with one another.
After all, how you feel at this very moment is irrelevant to how you think you’ll feel about your boyfriend in a year. Right?
A classic study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people report greater satisfaction with their lives when the weather is nice or when they’ve been thinking about something happy.
As everyone on vacation knows, life looks better when it’s sunny and hot.
How we feel right now also affects how we think we’ll feel about the future.
If someone interviewed you right after you’d had a particularly nasty argument with your boyfriend, you’d probably express serious doubts about your long-term compatibility. Spend the rest of your life with this monkey? Not likely.
But if someone interviewed you right after a Valentine’s Day in which your boyfriend pulled out all the stops, you’d probably have a decent idea about what style of wedding dress you want and how many guests you’ll invite.
Knowing this gives us some fairly important information about what not to do in relationships.
Don’t decide to marry your partner on the spur of a moment, just because you’ve had the most amazing weekend away with him.
Don’t break up in the middle of an argument, just because he’s made you mad.
In fact, try to avoid making any long-term decisions when you’re in the midst of strong emotions, because how you feel in the moment could prejudice your view of the future.
And feel free to use this psychological trick on him.
If you want to ask him something that involves a future commitment, wait to ask until he’s in a stellar mood. The better he feels, the more likely he is to say yes.
(All children know this trick. They save their big requests for when Mommy and Daddy are in a good mood.)
But there’s something else I need to show you. How we feel about the present also affects how we feel about the past. Let me point out why this matters in your relationship.