The emotion pleasure [1] works preventively and encourages people to think in an open, tolerant and constructive way. Pleasure provides an opportunity for growth, broadening our thoughts and behavioral repertoire. This effect makes us mentally outward-looking, flexible and creative. This helps us build our intellectual, social and physical capacities. Those who frequently experience pleasurable feelings thus become wiser, more resilient, more social and healthier.

To stay healthy, a daily dose of fun is as important as exercise and fruits and vegetables.

You consciously do things daily that are enjoyable. An example: you enjoy hosting a dinner party. That organizing, buying food and cooking is quite a lot of work. But once the guests arrive, it’s enjoyable. People who “prioritize fun” have the discipline to do the work beforehand so they can enjoy a fun time later. As a result, these people experience more fun in their daily lives, plus all the good effects of it.

Ironically, when people try really hard to wish themselves happy or force themselves to be happier, the effect is actually the opposite.

Consciously planning time for fun is one way that does work. This is because you direct your emotions at a much earlier stage. You choose situations that will give you pleasant feelings, such as meeting up with a good friend. And in the moment itself, when you are with that friend, you have a certain degree of acceptance: then you just feel what you feel. No emotion is permanent. Emotions last seconds or minutes, not weeks, months or years. Expecting them to be permanent is a recipe for disappointment.”

[1] Pleasure, like love, pride, hope and gratitude, is a positive emotion with the same effect as described. Negative emotions such as fear, anger and disgust narrow our attention so that we can focus properly on what threatens us. If our house is on fire, we don’t think for long but flee.