Have you ever been through an experience where the actual process was unpleasant but the final result had a happy ending and so you view the whole event as a success? The first thing that comes to mind is childbirth. Not that I would have any personal commentary on that experience (nor do I plan to for quite some time!) but I can think of many occasions in my life where this has been true; going on a camping trip, getting ready to go to college, or even just getting out of bed sometimes.
This is because of the peak end rule, in which we judge our experience based on how it ended. Coined by psychologist Daniel Kahneman, this heuristic states that the net, or total, experience is “not lost, but it is not used” in affecting our evaluation of an experience. Therefore, this theory suggests that you will be happier if you get your happy ending rather than your happy beginning. All is well that ends well.
I see this as an opportunity to take our happiness into our own hands. Of course there are things we cannot control; but when you can control the outcome, do your best to finish strong. Some of my greatest moments of unhappiness come from knowing that I cheated myself from going the distance.
5 Ways to Finish Strong:
1. Keep swimming, climbing, or stepping those last five minutes. Knowing that you gave up on yourself will be more self defeating than relieving.
2. Put in that extra 30 minutes before studying for an exam that you think will be a cake walk. It might be more like a brussel sprout walk and it’s good to prepare for a challenge.
3. Get ready for bed the right way. That’s right, brush and floss your teeth and wash your face even though you may be exhausted from a late night out. Chances are you’ll wake up on the wrong side of the bed the next day, when heaven forbid, you’re greeted by the teen assassin—a pimple.
4. Say yes to new opportunities: Sometimes it’s more comfortable to sit at home and watch Saved by the Bell (who, me?) all day. But it’s not more fun than calling a friend up and going on a new adventure. Seek out these new experiences; don’t always expect them to come to you.
5. Don’t gossip: I challenge you to try and not say one mean thing about any person today. I’ve done this before I was disheartened to see that for many of us (myself included) gossiping is like breathing. Yet it doesn’t add to our overall happiness and I encourage you to be the braver person and only speak kindly of your peers, family, and friends for at least one day.