Laying peacefully ensconced in my warm bed with the covers snuggled up around me, the alarm clock brings me rudely to my senses. The first conscious thought of the day was “Ugh.” And then, remembering I had a big meeting to attend with possible scrutiny, my second thought was another, “Ugh” as a feeling of pure DREAD washed slowly over my body.
This was a common occurrence for months – waking every day with a feeling of dread over what the day would bring. Interestingly, those days didn’t turn out to be all bad and I started to see a pattern – I was making myself miserable (all by myself). THAT was an A-HA moment. NO – I did NOT want to LIVE MY LIFE THAT WAY. So I set out to change it (all by myself). It got me thinking about anticipation and how it affects our lives.
Anticipation is a funny thing – it can be positive or negative depending on your point of view and what you are anticipating. In fact, in a study, scientists asked respondents to imagine receiving a passionate kiss from a celebrity of their choosing. They could receive the kiss right now, in three hours from now, one day or three days, one year or 10 years from now. The majority of respondents opted for the kiss which would occur three days from now. Why? Anticipation. They wanted to savor the anticipation – where would it take place, what would it feel like?
On the flip side, if there is something you are dreading, like say, a colonoscopy, the anticipation can be awful – most people want to get it over with and not have it hanging over their head.
I decided to consciously and actively anticipate my days with positive thoughts about what the day would bring. I began practicing this positivity while lying in bed before getting up. So here’s how it went: my alarm goes off and I start thinking about what’s on my plate. I take a deep inhale and think, “today is going to be GREAT!” “I am really going to ROCK today!” No matter what I had going on, that was my mantra. At first it was tough and the shadows of doubt crept in, but eventually it got easier and easier. And I started to believe it.
LIFE IS NOW. If you have negative feelings over what lies ahead, force the positive thoughts and help make the change. Obviously, every day can’t be a happy one (and no one looks forward to a colonoscopy) but perhaps most can. I included an interesting TEDTalk video on the topic of Anticipation as it relates to Optimism, and the science behind it.
For more on Facing Fear, check out my blog post: Becoming Friends with Fear.