Happiness and Anticipation

When I was a kid, Christmas was THE BEST. School was out for a couple of weeks, I was going to get and give some presents, see some once-a-year cousins… awesome! I’d start getting psyched about it before we’d finished the Thanksgiving leftovers.  There was a lot of thinking about what I might do during vacation, planning what I might get and give for Christmas, imagining what cool stuff my older cousins would be into this time.  I had a whole month of excitement building up to the actual day.  Christmas day was always really nice, but what I remember decades later is the excitement leading up to it.

Flip side of the same coin – swim lessons.  I hated them.  Getting water in my ears and eyes and sometimes my nose was THE WORST.  The feeling of dread would creep up the day before so I was grouchy that evening, struggled with sleep that night, and was anxious and irritable for half the next day since lessons were in the afternoon.  They were never as bad as I imagined but I’d already gotten it into my head that swim lessons were my personal hell so 24 hours of every week in the summer was ruined.

In my young mind I thought that Christmas and swim lessons made me feel those things, and since you can’t change Christmas and swim lessons (believe me, I tried) you just have to put up with those difficult emotions. As an adult I realize that though you definitely have to put up with certain outside events, how you anticipate them is up to you.  Sometimes I even remember this in time to turn dread into something tolerable, or if I try really hard, something good.  Give it a shot – repeatedly.  Remember that happiness skills are like any other skills – the more you practice, the better and easier it gets!