As I browsed the shelves of our library, the glossy light blue spine of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project caught my eye. It was just the kind of book that I like these days.
While Rubin's perfectionism is something that makes me feel a little messy, her attitude and approach to improving the quality of her life is honorable. I especially like that she studies happiness in a scientific way, and develops a method to apply this in her own life and to share it with the world.
According to Rubin, one variable affecting a person's level of happiness is anticipation. And this discovery is in contradiction to the great meditation practices that attempt to teach people to stay focused on the present moment.
I have a big imagination. I practice anticipation instead of meditation.
In anticipating that I'm going to have a wonderful life, I do. It is a useful tool that creates joy in my life. Today I am anticipating the arrival of my new (used) camera. It is the first camera that I've ever purchased. Having a husband who understands technical language has allowed me to focus on other things, so it was a great feeling to do this for myself.
While my happiness gets a boost in anticipating great things, this cycle of hope can also work in another way. In anticipating the worst, my emotions immediately plummet. During my father's battle with cancer, I anticipated the suffering he must have felt. I even went so far as to project that I would share the same fate. While he was sick, I felt sick. While he slept for hours, I felt tired.
This is why I have an aversion to watching the evening news. It's hard for me not to imagine and anticipate the entire obliteration of our planet.
But this morning, before getting out of bed, I prayed for a miracle for Japan. It helped me to get out of bed and anticipate something good.
I know this might seem childish or unrealistic of me. But I need to have faith in good outcomes. I need to see the first rays of light on the horizon, a sign that anticipates a brand new day.