I published a blog post almost 5 years ago in which I wrote about happiness being having something to look forward to.
The reason I’m revisiting this concept now is because it still feels relevant to me. I also believe it could help you.
Here’s a simple exercise I invite you to do right now. Or, if your time is limited today, maybe it’s something you could ponder for a bit and circle back to later.
Take a pen and paper and write down the following question: what am I looking forward to?
I caution you to not overthink this question. Ironic, coming from me, as I have a tendency to overthink things, sometimes to the extreme. Sometimes to the point where I have to pivot in my mind and shake things off. Turn my attention to something completely different or just journal like a madwoman to release the anxiety.
Anyway, the point is to keep it simple. Use the K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Sister-or Sailor, or Son, or Silly-whatever works for you).
Simple like the image that inspired me to write the original post.
“Looking forward” in our minds, I think, releases endorphins and puts us in a frame of mind of excited anticipation. It can help us to get on with it and do what it is we need to do to prepare for the event, whatever it may be. It gets us to look up, towards the future, and not down, where the past is collecting dust.
A crucial part to having something to look forward to, cultivating the positive feelings that it engenders, is planning. It’s taking charge of what we want to do and coming up with a plan to make it happen.
As Dr. Alex Lickerman says in a Psychology Today article I read, “when I’ve looked for the difference between my happy days and my unhappy days, I’ve noticed that the former are frequently filled with thoughts about something I look forward to, while the latter are practically empty of them”.
Think about that for a minute. Can you relate?
Dr. Lickerman further states in this article “anticipatory pleasure is so important to my sense of well-being, in fact, that I now plan my life in such a way that I almost always have something to look forward to”.
As a planner and an optimist, this statement from Dr. Lickerman reflects how I’ve been living my life.
Here’s what I’m looking forward to in this moment: Taking myself out tomorrow for a little shopping in the sweet little town 15 minutes away from me. The temps have gone up, much of the snow has melted, and I feel joyful at the thought of driving the country roads to get there with my music cranked up and finding some treasures to zhuzh up my outdoor (and possibly indoor) space.
Here’s a song to get you motivated, if you need to find something to look forward to in the days ahead. Because “yesterday’s gone”.