A Feel-Good Emotion
Have you ever wondered why you feel more alive when you are looking forward to something. It could be the family vacation, a long awaited reunion with an old friend, or something as simple as getting a facial. I’ve often found that a heightened level of anticipation brings a happiness that isn’t found through any other source.
The Science of Anticipation
Anticipation or being enthusiastic, is an emotion involving pleasure (and sometimes anxiety) in considering some expected or longed-for good event, or irritation at having to wait. Robert Plutchik listed anticipation as one of the eight basic emotions in his psychoevolutionary theory. In Carroll Ellis’ book The Psychology of Emotions, she states that “your emotions affect your body, mind, and virtually every aspect of your existence.” If this is true, we have to consider the implications that strong emotions (good or bad) can actually change our health, looks, and even the aging process.
She continues to explain that strong emotions cause electrical brain response, circulatory changes, and the secretion of hormones like serotonin and epenephorin. When we anticipate something wonderful, we are creating a new energy in our bodies. One that has the ability to bring life-giving changes and repairs to areas that need attention. Just imagine how the mental planning of happy events every day would change your body’s overall health. The possibilities are staggering.
It makes sense that the clinically depressed don’t feel the happy emotions that others do because their bodies have shut down that part of the brain that looks forward to upcoming events. The brain is not firing the normal amount of “feel-good” hormones. Those individuals have lost interest in their futures and the events that most enjoy and look forward to. That is why they are depressed.
Anxiety: The Negative Opposite
On the flip side of happy anticipation is anxiety. You know that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach that can literally immobilize you. Just as excitement brings a jolt of health to your body, anxiety can equally harm with an overabundance of negative hormones like cortisol. The stress of anxiety is also marked by pre-mature aging and weight gain- two side-effects that most women would do just about anything to avoid. So how do we avoid the negative? It’s easy; stop thinking about what you fear and think about what brings you joy!
Bring Anticipation to the Forefront
Think about all of the things that you look forward to. Make a mental effort to purposefully make them a part of your day until they come to pass. I’m not just talking about the things you know will come next week or even next month; I’m also referring to the far future events like your daughter’s wedding, retirement, and being a hip granny. Visualize them the way you want them to go. In doing this, you will always have the physical and mental benefits of anticipation. Please tell us about something that you are looking forward to and how it makes you feel. Be well ladies.
Resources: The Psycology of Emotions, by Carroll Ellis, Wikipedia
Photo by Lynzee34