What are you looking forward to currently? Isn’t it lovely when we have something to look forward to? That’s what I’m writing about today….
“What good is living a life you’ve been given if all you do is stand in one place”- Anonymous
It’s true that we’re all feeling the effects of Covid-19 pandemic one way or another.
While it may feel like things could drag on indefinitely, and there’s unlikely to be a clearly marked “all clear” signal, it is unlikely that the current situation will go on exactly as it is forever.
Whatever way this Covid-19 situation is affecting you and the ones you love, as the oft-used saying goes: this too shall pass.
We will emerge from this, even if we don’t know exactly when or how.
So, what’s the best way to weather the proverbial storm?
The “Silver Lining” Strategy
The people who thrive are likely to be those who look for the opportunity in the situations that present themselves. As they say, every cloud has a silver lining… you just have to look for it.
This requires keeping a cool head, seeing the bigger picture and finding a way to make that lemonade if the world gives you lemons. It can also mean being able to stay calm and constructive while showing empathy and lending a helping hand to others. And finding ways to enjoy your life and stay positive even in the face of negative people and events.
If you want to work on enjoying your life more, one important thing you can do is to make plans to look forward to. Have more in life to look forward to! Conventional planning is often mostly checklist driven. You have a plan, you do the plan, you measure against the plan, and you make adjustments. This is a great and proven approach in many areas of life, and under normal circumstances. It doesn’t always work or prove as useful in fluid or unknown situations, especially ones like these we are facing and experiencing currently.
While there’s no precise plan, you are likely to benefit from looking for other ways to make your life more interesting and enjoyable. Having more to look forward to does that. Here are some steps that will make it easier to have more to look forward to in your life.
1. Try new things or hobbies. If you see someone doing something fun (in person, or on TV, or on YouTube) then investigate what it would take to get started, and do it. Try doing whatever your friends are doing for fun – they’ll probably be happy to help you get started. Just keep trying new stuff. Eventually you’ll find something that you look forward to when you’re not doing it.
The hard part might be getting over the frustration that sometimes comes along with struggling to do something that you’re unfamiliar with. Some hobbies are hard in the beginning, so it might take a while for the fun to exceed the initial learning curve of getting to grips with it. But after you build up the fundamental skills that a particular hobby requires, the joy emerges.
2. Have something to look forward to every day. It is amazing how quickly our lives can become drab and colourless if we do not have something to look forward to. We wait far too long for that once-a-year holiday or that special event. It just isn’t enough. Or perhaps it might be enough, but thriving is not about existing on having just enough — it’s often more about abundance, joy and happiness. Likewise, you can create an abundance of good things to look forward to each and every day. Don’t overlook the simple things, which often can be the most rewarding, and bring us some of the greatest joy and happiness.
Here are some examples of small things to look forward to each day that can make your day very much special.
- Look forward to a special dinner with someone special.
- Meeting with or talking to people who are creative.
- Talking to someone about future and life.
- A sporting event you would like to watch.
- Look forward to a new food you’ve wanted to make at home.
- Planning and going on a mountain bike ride.
- Investigating what will be visible in the sky that night and stargazing.
(those last two are a part of my life currently!)
2. Enjoy small things in life. Life is made up of small pleasures. Often we wait for some big things to happen so that we can be happy. The human tendency is to acclimatise, and we don’t get as much satisfaction when we get that next “Big Thing” and we want the next big thing and on it goes. So why not start appreciating the simple and small things in life.
- Live in the present. Stop worrying about the future and living in the past. You know that you don’t have control over certain things. You know, smell the coffee, smell the roses.
- Wear new and fresh clothes. Your favourite clothes always make you happy. Just think how beautiful you are looking in that dress.
- Do small things for people with less expectation. Enjoy a moment of making someone else happy.
- Spend time with your favourite person and think how lucky you are that you have that person in your life. And talk with them.
- Listen to your favourite music and dance or raise your hands in the air.
And these small moments can actually have much deeper effects. Small moments of joy, for example, can reduce stress and increase our emotional resilience. Research shows that we can extend the joy of small pleasures by consciously savouring the experience, noticing the different sensory qualities, and helping to etch them into our memories (Quoidback et al., 2010).
3. Have a goal in mind. Without a goal, without a higher good to attain, what is there? Sure, you could resort to nihilism, nothing matters, and your life is pointless, the universe is pointless; I do enjoy some nihilistic comedy from time to time. But, this is unfortunately the route many take as moral relativism and truth denial grows in the hearts of humanity. Why not take a journey, and enjoy what you can, and look forward to doing so?
It’s often important to know where you’re headed, what to look at, and how you should orient and aim yourself. The journey towards that goal is where most people find meaning. It can be a goal of your own choice, free from societal influence, but you really need to have one.
Dr. Jordan Peterson once famously said, “what is there to do if you don’t aim for the top of something? Flap about uselessly at the bottom and complain about your life?”
Finally, (when we are able to do so) make dates and plan social interactions. Try to make plans with friends and family members. On a social level, interaction with others can be a more rewarding time split. Even if people spend much of their time alone, an occasional known visitor or a person or with a delivery, can be an enhancement to a long arduous day alone. Weekly phone calls from friends and family can make all the difference.
Here is a great article that goes into more detail on this subject: The Health Benefits of Real-Life Social Interaction – Yes, Actually Interacting With Real Humans and Stuff!
“Look at your neck turning radius. It’s designed to look 180 degree forward side only. Looking back slows you down. Always look forward in life.” ― Manoj Arora
What can you do today to ensure that in coming days you have more to look forward to? Start hatching plans and recognise how your life improves at the same time.
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