"Limbo isn't exactly a place for our mental health to thrive. In the
absence of being able to look forward to things with certainty, the best
we can do is create small pockets of future hope in the meantime."
ANNA BORGES, from Self.com
Everyone needs something to look forward to. Whether it's going on a holiday, waiting for the weekend, celebrating a birthday party, lunchbreak with a friend, or a snack in the middle of the afternoon. We especially need them in uncertain times and hard situations when things feel bleak, hopeless, or dismal. As the quote above says, "(i)n the absence of being able to look forward to things with certainty, the best we can do is create small pockets of future hope in the meantime."
Isn't that a wonderful phrase 'create small pockets of future hope'? It gives great scope for the imagination and reminds us that perhaps there is something we can do to make things a little better. Enough to carry on with for the moment.
Many of us have probably learned that skill along the way; we've learned that setting one foot in front of the other, putting our head down and just getting through whatever it is, is how we survive sometimes. The idea that we also can create pockets of future hope for ourselves, and others, is comforting. It's not totally hopeless and we don't have to be completely helpless. Life isn't always full of hard things; then there are the times when life is mundane, ordinary, bleh. We need a little something to keep the excitement in life. Well, maybe not excitement exactly, but we seem to work better, live better, feel better when we have nice things to look forward to. By 'nice' I mean that something is pleasant and still worth noticing, even when it doesn't have the out-of-this-world wow! factor.
Something else I've learned, don't use all the 'treats' up at once. Be sure to keep something in reserve. Save it for later. Because you'll need it then, too. Which means, perhaps, keeping a list of things we know we look forward to and being prepared... from the tiniest to the biggest, from immediate pleasure to delayed gratification to long-term dreams to anticipate. Make a lifestyle of creating small pockets of things we can look forward to.
"Everyone needs things to look forward to—
big things and small things,
on good days and on bad days;
things that will buoy our spirits and make
us laugh and help us feel alive."
SOPHIE BLACKALL, Things to Look Forward To
I want to mention a lovely book in my collection that got me thinking about all this: Things to Look Forward To, 52 Large and Small Joys for Today and Every Day by Sophie Blackall. Written and illustrated by the author during the global pandemic, Sophie Blackall encourages readers not to lose sight of beauty and those things that create wonder and delight. For good days and bad ones. That make us laugh and help us feel alive.
For instance, she writes about Diesel, a neighbouring dog who comes to visit her; she says, "We walk him home and then he walks us home and we walk him home again. And on the way we talk about chasing rabbits and rolling in burdock...". (In case, you're wondering, it's a weed of some kind, not...) I feel a smile breaking on my face just reading that Sophie takes joy in that furry fellow. She also mentions looking forward to learning new things: teaching children while working from home, living with people in small spaces, not to panic, to remain helpful, and learning new words. She also looks forward to watching the full moon on a dark night.
For me, the list could look something like this. I look forward to:
✧ sleeping on clean sheets
✧ browsing a new recipe or seasonal craft magazine
✧ coming home after running errands and plopping on the couch
✧ popping something yummy in the oven (or my mouth)
✧ that first mug of fresh brewed coffee
✧ a snowfall that turns the world into a fairyland
✧ planning something nice for someone - muffins, a card, a phone chat
✧ holding hands with a certain someone on a walk
✧ planting spring bulbs for next year
✧ sprucing up the place for Christmas
✧ turning on the twinkle lights as evening draws early
✧ starting that new novel I'm saving for the holidays
✧ crawling into bed at the end of the day
I'm closing with one of my favourite quotes by British novelist, Iris Murdoch: "One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats." Having a plethora of them to look forward to truly adds to the pleasure of being alive.
Wishing you a beautiful week ahead,
and Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends.
(Top) Image by R-region from Pixabay
(Bottom) Photo by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life