In my 11/4 post, I discussed the emotion of surprise.
In my 11/18 post, I addressed the emotion of gratitude.
As I write this, it is the beginning of December. We have just finished with Thanksgiving and are about to enter the “Holiday Season”. While covid-19 may change the way we experience this Holiday Season, I’d like to suggest that you thoroughly engage and experience two emotions you probably don’t think too much about. Specifically: Anticipation and Surprise.
Some basic concepts:
The emotion of Anticipation
Anticipation is the flip side of the emotion of anxiety.
Anxiety is a future based emotion the message of which is that there may be a threat in the future that may “kill” me. When we get anxious, we often act as if the possible threat is an actual threat and react by being unable to take any effective action. This is anxiety as distress. Anxiety as eustress takes the energy of the emotion and uses it to prepare for the possibility that the threat may occur.
Note: The Index Tab above will take you to a PDF which lists all of my previous posts, including those on Anxiety, by category, title and date. Click on the tab and look for the specific post which interests you.
The emotion of anticipation is also a future based emotion. For anticipation, however, the message is that there is a possible event in the future that I want to experience.
Anticipation both sets up an expectation regarding and prepares you for something good.
The emotion of surprise.
Surprise, as an emotion, grabs your attention and focuses it on an event. The message of Surprise is that an unexpected event has occurred and you need to assess it to see if it is beneficial or detrimental.
The issue of perceptual sets.
Did it ever occur to you that you might not see your surroundings as they actually are?
Huh, you say, what does that mean?
Well, the psychological fact is that, while you may see something, like a fast food restaurant, you may not notice it because it has little value to you unless you are hungry.
The concept of perceptual set says that your emotions and your expectations will impact how you interpret what you see. In other words, you will “see” what you expect to see.
We see what we look for…..
A rather interesting experience was conducted several years ago in which groups of subjects were asked to watch a video of two teams playing basketball. One group was asked to count the number of times the red team dribbled the ball and the other group was asked to do the same thing with the blue team.
Each group did as they were instructed to do.
However, in the middle of the video, an actor dressed as a gorilla was shown dancing on the screen.
Each group was asked if they noticed the gorilla and a significant number of subjects indicated that no gorilla appeared on screen.
The subjects were so focussed on counting, they failed to notice the gorilla.
In previous posts, I’ve written about driving down a street and not really seeing any of the fast food restaurants and driving down the same street when hungry and “seeing” all of the restaurants.
How does all this fit together and what does it have to do with the Holiday Season?.
Typically, the Holiday Season is upbeat and a time when we engage with others in a feel good way. Yes, I know that there is downside to the Holidays as well including the stress we may experience having too much to do and too little time to do it, thinking about past Holidays and so forth.
But, this Holiday Season, try setting yourself up to look for, and find, things that surprise you. This is strategically deploying the emotion of surprise so that it works for you.
You want to be surprised!
When surprised, you will be motivated to engage with the object/issue of your surprise.
You will see things about others and yourself you haven’t noticed before.
Here is what you are going for…
A gift to others...
The “gift” you give others will involve seeing them in a new light and, perhaps, improving your relationship with them.
Look for something new in a friend that you can compliment them about or something interesting that you haven’t really paid attention to before that you can engage with them about.
Look for something new in your kids or your spouse that is surprising to you because you haven’t really paid attention to it before.
A “gift” to yourself...
Look for something new about yourself that’s either always been there or that is something you’d like to do, build upon, or engage in as in “Wow, I never realized that about me!”
I don’t know about you but I suspect that you, like me, remember Christmas morning waking up experiencing the emotion of Anticipation of what might be under the tree when I went downstairs. I was all excited. I didn’t know what I would find but I was anticipating that it would be good.
This is the emotion I want you to experience but I want you to expect that you will be pleasantly surprised by what you observe in and learn about those who are close to you and yourself.
Putting It All Together
If you set out to do this as I’ve suggested, you will be looking for new “positive” ways to view yourself and others which will surprise you and you will anticipate or expect to find what you are looking for.