Take a moment for anticipation

I’m more of a coffee drinker than a tea drinker, but too much afternoon caffeine can mess up my already fragile sleep situation. So I’ve started making myself tea in the afternoons. I’ve been experimenting with various flavors and brands.

Recently, I bought a brand that has a rather elaborate set of tea-making instructions on the package. While the tea is steeping, I am supposed to “take 1 minute to anticipate the pleasure.”

I find this funny…but not a bad idea. Consciously moving small treats forward just a little bit can maximize the enjoyment of any situation. It stretches out the fun — and who doesn’t want more of that?

These days you can get a lot of what you want really quickly. I’m old enough to remember having to wait for special movies like The Wizard of Oz to be played on TV. At times, I have driven around hoping to hear a new song on the radio. These days you just download or stream whatever you want, whenever you want.

No one likes waiting, but anticipation is different. There’s a much more exciting connotation. It is waiting eagerly for something good you know is coming. When we anticipate something, we feel some of the same pleasure we will during the event itself — only the pleasure can last much longer.

Taking a minute to anticipate the tea means I am enjoying the tea for a minute longer than I would. Some treats deliberately build the waiting into the process of consumption. For a while, I was eating a lot of these dark chocolate covered frozen banana slices. To avoid breaking teeth, you were supposed to take the package out of the freezer and let it thaw for a minute. That extra minute kept me from gobbling the chocolates down without savoring them.

We can build a moment for anticipation into all sorts of things. When a new magazine comes in the mail, I think about when I’ll read it, and look at the cover lines and think about what story I’ll most enjoy. If you’ve got a favorite show, maybe don’t start the new season as soon as it’s available. Take a day or two and designate a time to start watching. You’ll stretch out your enjoyment.

After all, eventually the good thing will be over. Eventually the presents will be unwrapped, the lights will come down, the chocolate will be consumed. Building in a moment for anticipation allows us to push that eventuality forward, and stretch the time before the good thing is over into a higher proportion of our moments.



10 thoughts on “Take a moment for anticipation

  1. Yes. This is why I love Advent. I try to remind myself during December that Advent is guided anticipation, and it really isn’t right to plow through the season.

  2. I am actually a big tea drinker- like probably at least 3-5 cups a day. I probably don’t make my tea “right”, in that I don’t always heat my water in a pretty kettle and steep it in a lovely teapot for the exact amount of time. 😉 Sometimes I do that, but most of the time I just microwave a mug of water and stick my black tea bag in and it’s good enough for me. I used to find that during the 2 minutes and 29 seconds that it takes to heat the water in my large mug to my liking, I would grab my phone and scroll around and waste those minutes. During the past few months, when I wake up early in the morning and make my first cup of tea, I have just been standing in the kitchen and looking out the window while it heats instead. It was a bit odd to just stand there doing nothing at first, honestly. But it is a good exercise in quiet mindfulness, just looking out at the pre-dawn light and sky (or these days, the dark yard!) and thinking for a moment. When I heat tea water in the afternoon, I often try to spend that time doing 2 minutes of stretching or I will play a quick tune on the piano instead of grabbing my phone/ checking email/social media. Tea time is the perfect mini-break if I’m intentional with it. 🙂

    1. All the more reason to boil water in a kettle to brew tea in a teapot: the result will be not only a better cup of tea, but 15-20 minutes with a built-in timer to set aside for whatever you choose. 🙂

  3. The feeling someone gets when something good or bad is about to happen. Or like when a battle is about to take place and every one gets real quiet right before the order is give to charge. It’s a feeling that in and of itself is neither positive or negative. It’s the defense mechanism that prepares us for what ever may come our way.

  4. Designer Ingrid Fetell Lee, who I love, talks about anticipation as a source of joy in her work. I like the idea of prolonging a moment by being more mindful of it before it even begins! Repetitive acts we enjoy, like cups of tea or big holiday traditions, can be even more meaningful when we put energy into appreciating them beforehand.

    “Whether in hard times or good ones, the benefit of cycles is that they give us something to look forward to, and this anticipation can be a pleasure in its own right.”
    ― Ingrid Fetell Lee, Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

  5. We wrapped 24 winter/Christmas books individually and put them under the tree and labeled them 1-24. Each night up until Christmas my three year old son looks for the corresponding number to the date (Dec 3 is book #3). He looks forward to it all day and tells me what number he is looking for each night. These aren’t new books by any means, but the fact that they are presents and he only gets to open one per night builds the anticipation and makes the reading experience much more special. Much better than if we were just to pull the book off the shelf!

  6. I love the idea of pausing to anticipate what you desire. In essence, it’s really about being in the present moment—which can be an act of transcendence-which leads to joy. (I really appreciate Eckart Tolle’s take on this.)

    I would say that my art time and watching my inspiring funny shows are where I focus my anticipation. I also look forward to time with my music (singing and song writing).

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