Just think back to the moments in life that you have been your happiest and you will realize that most of these moments are when you have had a pleasant surprise. In the same way, think back to the times that you have been the most disappointed, it would seem like they were those moments when you were anticipating something, and it did not meet your expectations.
What conclusion can you draw from these observations? I would say you could indeed draw many conclusions from the above paragraphs.
Here are some of the conclusions one could draw from the above two instances that we have talked about:
People like pleasant incidents and they like it more so when the occurrence is unexpected.
All surprises need not be big or grandiose for a person to enjoy them. In fact, sometimes the smaller surprises have a bigger impact.
The unexpected always brings about a bigger response than something that we have been expecting all along.
When you spend a lot of time anticipating something, the chances are that the reality of what you were expecting would fall short of your expectations.
Expectations have the tendency to set you up for a fall and usually this kills a lot of joy in even a great event.
The more you expect an outcome, the less likely you are to enjoy it when actually faced with it.
Now that we have come to some conclusions about surprises, anticipation, satisfaction and disappointment, let us look at some reasons why surprises hold so much appeal and why anticipation can kill joy.
The first thing about surprises: First thing to remember about surprises is that it brings out the child in us. Just look around at kids around you and you will know what we mean. For them everything is a surprise and that is why their joy is purer. They tend to treat a soap bubble that pops unexpectedly on their nose with more joy than a young lady who gets a trinket that she has been campaigning for. That is because for a child, the bubble is a surprise and in most cases, the trinket may not even match what the young lady anticipated what it would be like.
The thought behind the surprise: In many cases, when somebody goes all the way to give you a surprise, they have done a lot of spadework to make it happen. And then when the surprise dawns on you, you realize how much work that person or group of people have put in to make this happen. This itself adds to the joy of the surprise. It is like you have an image of the kind of man you will meet on sites for online dating but your friends have worked at providing a dream date.
What is it about anticipation that lets you down? The thing is, human beings have a good imagination and while this can come in handy for many things, the one negative thing that imagination does is build up anticipation. While this by itself may not be such a bad thing, this sort of building false hopes can bring your joy in most things down. We will explain this with a small example. Just imagine that there is a movie that you have been wanting to watch and your friends come back after seeing it. They tell you that the movie was really good and they enjoyed it a lot. This will definitely bring up your level of anticipation and in the time you wait before going to see the movie will let your imagination grow about the movie. What is more, when you finally go to see the movie you will expect to be delighted. What do you think will happen? You will find that the movie though good would never meet your expectations and you will come back feeling dissatisfied.
Anticipation can build the bridge from expectation to disappointment: While this may not always be the case, it is true more often than not. Anticipation does tend to make people impatient and hasty. All these factors do not help in making things pleasant. Many people do not realize this and spend a lot of time in anticipating pleasure over coming events and always feeling let down when the joy never comes through.
What does this mean? Do we stop anticipating things?
Here are some takeaways that you can adopt and which will stand you in good stead from the above statements:
Live life as if it is one pleasant surprise after another and this way your joy over many small things will be on the increase.
Anticipate your troubles and this way they will seem smaller than they actually are and you will be in a better position to deal with them.
Meet each day with a level of childlike enthusiasm instead of anticipating which direction it will go in.
Smile and keep surprising others so that you can get the same in return; after all happiness is also about making others happy!