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.