The Simple Pleasure of Anticipation

September 10, 2018

Photo by Amelia Bartlett on Unsplash

“‘What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?’
“‘Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best,’ and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.”
—A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

I believe the word Pooh was looking for was Anticipation.

Anticipation is that pleasant, tingly feeling we get when we’re looking forward to something in the future. It’s worry’s much happier cousin.

I wrote briefly about the importance of anticipation in my August Happy Little Thoughts newsletter, but it deserves more page time.  (Not a subscriber to Happy Little Thoughts? Become one here. I’ll never sell or share your email with anyone else, and you can unsubscribe at any time.  Happy Little Thoughts comes out once a month, and it will give you something else to anticipate…)

Waiting makes the thing anticipated more valuable. How much more do we appreciate a purchase if we save up and pay cash rather than buy on credit? I still fondly remember the first thing I ever saved my allowance for as a child: a little gold alarm clock with rhinestones surrounding the face, just like the one my best friend had.

Delaying gratification can draw out the pleasure of things we enjoy. Instead of an “on demand” mindset of instant gratification, why not wait? Why not watch one episode of Stranger Things at a time, rather than streaming the entire second season in one weekend? (I may be speaking from personal experience here.)

Scheduling and planning ahead for simple pleasures and everyday adventures rather than just waiting for them to fall into our laps also gives us the chance to anticipate the happy event beforehand. When we buy tickets for a movie this weekend, or a concert in November, we give ourselves time to look forward to pleasurable experiences.

And when we anticipate an event or experience in the future, we have time to deepen our enjoyment by preparing for it. When we anticipate a vacation, we can add to our enjoyment by reading up on the area we’re visiting, researching the cuisine, or practicing the local language if it’s not our own. 

Consciously looking forward to something and preparing for it—whether it’s an experience, event, or purchase—can be a simple pleasure all its own. Cultivate anticipation by deliberately delaying a pleasure, by looking ahead to pleasures to come, or by taking steps ahead of time that you know will deepen your pleasurable experience.

What are you anticipating? How can you better savor that delicious feeling?

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  1. Love that word Anticipation...right now I am anticipating autumn and all the beauty that goes with that season. Have a great week. Hugs!