Think how happy you feel when you are looking forward to something, whatever that may be. Research has shown that anticipating something can be a powerful, positive emotion that can help us live happier lives. Anticipation is a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen in the near future. People enjoy looking forward to things much more than looking back on them afterward. The enjoyment people glean from anticipation is also an important component of life satisfaction. To enjoy one’s life, one needs a belief in a hope for the future and to be able to suffer the pain of deferral of immediate gratification. Imagine if you had nothing at all to look forward to in life? You would likely be very miserable, upset, and even depressed. It is very hard to find the will to live if you cannot imagine that there is something positive waiting for you in the future.
Waiting may not be your favourite activity, but science and psychology both agree that if you can turn it into positive anticipation—an expectation of something good to come—anticipation can be beneficial for your mind, emotions, and even your physical health, and is a skill worth learning. Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a Manhattan psychiatrist, suggests that learning to anticipate is a sign of maturity. “Our mind enables us to make sound decisions that enhance our being in the world, and keep us from acting in compulsive and destructive ways,” he says. To reap the benefits of anticipation, you have to learn how to delay gratification. “There are physical and emotional benefits to delaying gratification. When you anticipate something you want, even if you don’t know what the outcome will be, you activate your brain’s reward centre. Of course, the other side of anticipation is anxiety. A lot of times people are afraid to anticipate because they don’t want to be disappointed. Anticipation is based on a sense of personal hope and control. In a state of anticipation, we enjoy a sense of control over our lives. Anticipation also teaches you patience, and reveal how well you deal with a fear of not getting what you want.
All experts agree that there is more benefit than harm to anticipating good things, even if they don’t come to pass. The phrase waiting in anticipation is still used widely. Anticipation means the excitement, of waiting eagerly for something good you hope is going to happen. Anything that you are looking forward to, can be made even better by letting your anticipation build up. A healthy amount of “anticipation” can be a very powerful emotion that has the potential to improve our lives. If you find it hard to think of something to look forward to, then why not create something to look forward to? Make plans: we all need something to look forward to. Find something to make your future look a little brighter and happier – and relish in the anticipation of good things to come. In fact, a healthy sense of “anticipation” can often help energize our lives, and even help us get through tough times. When we find ourselves in those less-than-ideal present moments, having something to look forward to in the future can give us the motivation and persistence to move forward even during those difficult times.