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It’s time to look forward! Here’s why and how…

None of us anticipated the past few months of unknowns and disruptions. Unforeseen shut-downs, cancellations, postponements and home confinement. Most everything we had planned and looked forward to for months – or years – vanished before our eyes to be replaced by uncertainty, doubts and even fears. One of the toughest emotions to cope with […]

None of us anticipated the past few months of unknowns and disruptions. Unforeseen shut-downs, cancellations, postponements and home confinement. Most everything we had planned and looked forward to for months – or years – vanished before our eyes to be replaced by uncertainty, doubts and even fears. One of the toughest emotions to cope with during these weeks has been feeling unable to plan anything to look forward to.

As our globe gradually opens up, we are seeing glimmers of hope of a “new normal”, but so many things, like events, travel, sunny beaches and even our office spaces remain compromised for the coming months. By creating things to look forward to, we can inspire the motivation and persistence we need to appreciate life despite the challenging times. Here’s why and how!

Looking forward matters because ANTICIPATION generates happiness

Living and navigating life in the present moment, like we have been over the past few months, can help us deal with challenges, reduce stress and improve our ability to cope with negative emotions like fear and frustration. Many of us have felt this as we mindfully appreciated extra time with family, different schedules and more homemade meals. However, the dominating outlook of uncertainty is still challenging our minds and bodies and having concrete things to look forward can energize us and make it easier to get through.

We are used to fast-paced lives where there’s always something to anticipate and look forward to. In the most basic sense, “anticipation” implies a future “reward” and, in general, rewards are powerful motivators. Anticipation is considered by some experts to be an essential positive emotion contributing to a happy, satisfying and hopeful life. Research has even shown that anticipation is such a strong emotion that people – like Winnie the Pooh above – are happier in the anticipation phase than remembering the actual experience (the “Rosy Retrospection”). Research further suggests that anticipating experiences brings more happiness than anticipating buying material items.

How to create anticipation and look forward…

By creating new rewards in our lives – or by actively seeking things to look forward to – we can build more motivation, inspiration and happiness. Think of these rewards as being: Short, Medium or Long term; Small or Large; Experiences or Material. Creating your unique blend is a healthy way to build some positive anticipation into your life. Here are some ideas…

10 Short-Term, LOOK FORWARD TO’S…

  1. Your morning coffee or tea, trying new flavors or a new mug and maybe a few more minutes to linger…
  2. Your lunch break… making it special with new foods or a novel space – like outside – to savor it…
  3. Meeting or talking with someone special at some point every day…this might even be through a text message ritual…
  4. An evening meal with loved ones…
  5. A favorite food or wine…
  6. A walk, bike or run outdoors….
  7. A yoga session – online, alone or in the studio…
  8. Netflix or a good movie…
  9. A ride in the car…
  10. Choosing and nurturing  the relationships in your life that matter most now…

10 Medium-Term, LOOK FORWARD TO’S…

  1. The weekend or upcoming time off. How can you make it really different from the work-week? Especially if you are working from home…
  2. An upcoming celebration – birthday or anniversary – how can you honor it creatively?…
  3. Shopping for something…new shoes, bathrobe, a good book…whatever makes you happy!…
  4. Rearranging the furniture in your home…
  5. Researching and purchasing a new bike or fitness gear…
  6. Repainting a room…
  7. Planting a garden in your yard or terrace….
  8. Planning new food styles or recipes to learn and try….
  9. A staycation at home or discovering your region…
  10. Re-creating you professional offering to best meet today’s needs of your clients and your self…

10 Long-Term, LOOK FORWARD TO’S…

  1. Reconnecting with your purpose… Has this crisis changed anything for you? Might you wish to live your life differently?…
  2. Your next life transition… Marriage? Children? Retirement? Career?..
  3. Learning something new…What drives you and why? How can you learn that?…
  4. Treating yourself to a new phone, car, boat, other…
  5. Scheduling and planning to attend all those postponed events…
  6. A trip in 2021…
  7. Planning Christmas…
  8. A move…
  9. Opportunities to help, serve, support, make a difference…
  10. Thinking about possible negative aspects of the “new normal” and how you might cope can also generate feelings of calm and well being…

So, what are you looking forward to right now?

Experiencing any happy event starts with anticipating and looking forward to it and then enjoying it in the moment. The pleasure is heightened afterward when you share your pleasure with others and ultimately reflect back on the happy time. A full cascade of happiness and optimism! One of the aims of mindful living is to balance our thoughts of the past, the present, and the future. Begin finding your balance by looking forward to even the smallest parts of your day and it will make that day more enjoyable while improving your appreciation for what you have and  making your world a brighter place.

The best part? Looking forward is FREE!

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