Last Friday I was full of anticipation. I had been looking forward to my weekend trip since June when my sister bought tickets for us to attend a pop up Alice in Wonderland themed cocktail event. One thing I learned after Mastering Misery and my experience with 60 burials a week working at the cemetery is that life will at times be unexpectedly painful. The great exhilaration of anticipation pulls us forward.
Looking ahead to future fun adventures helps us through the hard times, the difficult moments. The daydreaming about tomorrow and the visualization of the bliss that lies ahead works to make us happier in the present and when the event materializes.
As soon as last weekend passed, I immediately began to plan another fun encounter to dream about and anticipate. I do the same with my vacations. Even though we are not currently traveling because of the ongoing global pandemic, we do have at least four different trips in the works. We look at places to stay, cities to visit, things to do, and restaurants to eat at and keep notes so when we believe it is safe to travel again we will be able to organize these trips quickly. We also always keep our passports up to date so we are ready for unexpected getaways!
I anticipate good things. I anticipate fun surprises. But, I have not always been that way.
I remember a time when I regularly waited for the proverbial “other shoe to drop”. When things were going well, I couldn’t be happy. When I made plans, I got out my invisible “Worst Case Scenario Handbook” and used an anxiety filled mindset to worry and imagine every possible bad outcome to the experience.
I’ve come to understand and believe there is an energy to our thoughts and to our words. What we think and the things we say shape and manifest our destiny. Along the famous quotable lines of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” I know.
Whether I think it will be great or whether I think it will go badly–so it will.
We can control our thoughts and it is one of the most important skills I am still mastering. We have the power to reshape our inner dialog. To move from a pessimistic mindset with thoughts like, “they are not going to have our reservations and we’re going to miss out”. Or, “if we go, it will be a waste of money”.
Instead think and anticipate good with joy filled thoughts like, “this is going to be awesome and we’re going to have a wonderful time!” “I’m going to have fun even if everything doesn’t work out exactly like I planned.”
Turn off the anxious, negative soundtrack playing in your own head.
Change the channel 1,000 times a day, if you have to. Play messages like this on repeat instead:
- Things are always working out for me.
- Opportunity always finds me.
- All the good in the universe is on its way to me.
When you encounter an obstacle to your joy and peace. Tell yourself some of these messages:
- This is a minor setback. It will pass, things will get better soon.
- I have managed worse and harder things in my life. This is no big deal.
Redirect and distract yourself. This is where anticipation comes in. When I’m having a bad Monday morning, when I have a particularly boring week, or at a time when I am too busy to do things I enjoy, I take 3-5 minutes to sit and visualize that event in the future that I am looking forward to.
I mentally role play what it will be like. You can too!
Take a moment and think about what you plan to wear, how you will fix your hair, what clothes you will put on for the upcoming event. Imagine yourself enjoying the experience, laughing, talking, eating and drinking.
When you are planning a trip to an amusement park, feel yourself riding down the fast slopes of the roller coaster with your arms up in the air, the wind in your face, feel your enjoyment as you scream and laugh in response to the wild ride. Visualize yourself enjoying a hot, sweet funnel cake topped with cold, vanilla ice cream and chocolatey, hot fudge. Smile when you think of yourself riding the colorful horses as they go up and down on the merry-go-round to the old fashioned organ music playing as it transports you back to your favorite childhood memories.
Visualization is an important part of anticipation. It takes us out of our current mindset and transports us to a better feeling state of mind.
I still fail frequently. I get stuck in a negative place. However, when I recognize that negativity and my lower mood state, I have the power to make myself feel just a little bit better. I no longer feel helpless to my moods and emotions. I am more in control of the energy I create inside of myself. Planning future events to anticipate supplies a steady source of positive emotions, joy and excitement, to propel me forward.
I enjoy dwelling on the good when my mind wanders over to the darkside. This practice has decreased my suicidal ideation significantly. It has also elevated my moods and made me more resilient to difficulties. I bounce back quicker when I go dark.
Human beings will never stop having bad thoughts completely. However, it is in our power to think thoughts that are just a little bit better.
To shift our moods on the spectrum of dark to light. If you are at a two or three really close to zero light and complete darkness, you probably won’t be able to shift easily to a ten with full light in your life. But, you can make the leap from a two or three to a four or five with some meditation and positive visualization about an event you are anticipating in the future.
Start planning fun for your life.
Organize a great dinner you’re going to cook, a picnic you’re going to take, a hike in nature you’ve been meaning to make time for, anything that brings you joy. Plan it a week or two out and enjoy the anticipation! Send me an email or tell me on Instagram how it impacts your routine and thoughts.
Read more about anticipation from Gretchen Rubin author of The Happiness Project in this Psychology Today post, Get More Bang for Your Happiness Buck: Revel in Anticipation. Anticipation Is A Big Part Of The Fun! In the post she writes:
“Pleasant anticipation is an important source of happiness; having something to look forward to makes you “feel good” and may also give an “atmosphere of growth” to your life, because the future seems bright.”–Gretchen Rubin
Read the next post, Document Joy.
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