Health & Wellness

How Can Long-Term Thinking Make You Feel Happier

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Erik Bergman co-founded Catena Media and helped grow it to over 300 employees and a $200 million valuation before stepping away to start Great.com, an iGaming organization that donates 100% of its profits to environmental charities. In addition to running a successful online affiliate business, Erik also hosts the Becoming Great podcast, shares entrepreneurship tips with his more than 1 million social media followers, and contributes to sites like Entrepreneuer.com, Business Insider, Foundr, and Forbes.

Long-term thinking is a double-edged sword that can trigger anxious feelings just as easily as happiness. Whenever we think about the future, the outcome of the process depends on our current predicament. But we can make a case where long-term thinking or planning is productive not only for our relationships or financial situation but also for making us happier. 

Since long-term thinking is a coin flip, how do we become happier when planning for our future? To break down the process and establish a positive outcome, we will explain how to think about the future correctly. With all that said, let’s start.

Related: 10 Things Money Can’t Buy That Will Make You Happy

Three Ways Long-Term Thinking Makes You Feel Happier

1. Long-Term Thinking Helps Us Achieve Our Goals 

Goals are essential for long-term planning. But you have to set smart goals and work to achieve them. We can do that through long-term thinking. 

But here is the catch. A psychology report published in Sage Journal found that fantasizing about the future makes you more susceptible to depression. But why is that? The study found that the more positively we think about the future, the less effort we put into getting there. 

Ultimately, the study found the opposite effect to prevail. However, you can still think about the future. Instead, you should be level-headed and don’t put unrealistic expectations. 

That’s precisely why we mentioned setting smart goals. SMART means “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound” goals. SMART goals aren’t new or revolutionary and are a template used across many industries to set realistic goals, above all else. 

Through long-term thinking and planning, we can set SMART goals and find the motivation to achieve them. And that’s the keyword we’d like to highlight: motivation.

You must have the motivation to achieve your goals to achieve them. So think about the future and think about the ways to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself.

2. Long-Term Thinking Helps Us Make Healthy Decisions

Our happiness depends on what decisions we make throughout our life. Therefore, the better decisions we make, the happier we tend to be. Long-term thinking can aid us in our quest for happiness by mapping out the future and making decisions that bring us one step closer to achieving our dreams and goals. 

We must mention that most decisions will impact the “here and now” as opposed to ten years down the line. Very few people think about making decisions in the long term. Instead, they tend to focus on decisions that impact us now but put us in a better position for the future. 

couple making decisions for a happy life

For example, you can consider the future and decide on potential investments. Of course, you won’t be putting all your money into these investments, but maybe a considerable amount that doesn’t significantly impact the present. That way, you can still live in the “here and now” and not compromise just for the sake of it.

Ultimately, we all want to make healthy decisions that bring us one step closer to our dreams and goals. The best fuel for a happier life is achieving the dreams and goals we’ve set for ourselves.

3. Long-Term Thinking Helps Us Visualize Our Life

Visualization is a highly beneficial technique that can reduce anxiety and help you live happier by painting a picture of the future. Fortunately, we all visualize whenever thinking about the future. Our brain paints a picture in our head of the stuff we think about it. So we can use visualization whenever thinking about the future to make sense of what to expect.

And the best part of this technique is that it makes us happier. The way visualization makes us happier can be explained medically. Visualization stimulates the release of dopamine whenever thinking about happy events. So if you’re looking for happiness in your life, practicing visualization techniques is one way to obtain it. 

We will also explain how visualization and long-term thinking can make you feel happier. By combining both, you put yourself in a position where you think about the future and visualize it. First, think about what you want to achieve in ten years or what career you think of pursuing. Then, visualize it. 

With this simple technique, you paint a picture in your mind and hopefully, a happy one. You can then work towards getting to the final destination. You can also start planning your daily schedule to help you get there faster. 

When you visualize the future through long-term thinking, you know what you need to do to make it a reality. And the guidance from the visualization techniques will make you happier. 

How to Master Long-Term Thinking? 

Now that you know how long-term thinking can make you happier, let’s see how to master the art of long-term thinking. 

Be Realistic 

Anyone can fantasize about the future. But remember what we said earlier—fantasizing can evoke feelings of depression when you fail to achieve your dreams and goals.

So, you have to be realistic when thinking about the future. Don’t put yourself under too much pressure; instead, be reasonable with what you want to achieve. Even if you are ambitious, you must think about your happiness. Your wealth will mean nothing if you aren’t happy. So, don’t get carried away and remember to stay reasonable. 

Put Stepping Stones

You can’t put two sticks together to build a ladder to reach the top—you need the steps in between to climb the ladder. And that’s what you need to do when thinking about the future. 

happy women on stepping stones

While long-term thinking does give you a direction of where you need to go, you can only do it with short-term goals and habits. Short-term goals and habits will make your dreams come true and make you feel happier. For example, if having the perfect body makes you happy, you must work out daily and develop healthy habits. These will be your stepping stones or steps that provide the platform for happiness. Remember that Rome wasn’t built a day. 

Free Your Mind

Free your mind, and the rest will follow. We all know the song, but what does it mean to free your mind?

You will have a more challenging time brainstorming for the future with a cluttered mind. So freeing up your mind is an excellent tip for mastering long-term thinking.

But how do we do that? The easiest way to free up your mind is to spend time alone with your thoughts. Moreover, you need to do it regularly, not once a month. Pick a time of the day when you think about the future and make it a habit. Then, work to brainstorm ways to improve your life. It could mean coming up with new ideas about your business or how to improve your relationships. 

What’s important is to give your brain a reboot. Forget about the stress and clear your thoughts of the negativity surrounding you. That way, you will be far more effective with your long-term thinking.


Long-term thinking can make you feel happier in many ways. It can paint a picture in your head about the future, help you set life goals, and teach you about making healthy decisions. These will ultimately impact your happiness by playing on your psychology. But once you start achieving goals and dreams, you will live a happier, more fulfilling life. 

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