Anticipation? Help yourself to an endorphin boost!

Here it is again—Friday!  We all look forward to the weekend, don’t we?  Have you made any special plans?  Something fun to do at home with family or out with others?  Maybe out of necessity it’s a chore-based weekend, like I expect ours will be. But even that can be just fine. Progress on some home improvement projects may not sound like fun, but then the enjoyment comes with accomplishment.  It’s all about the anticipation!

When we leave the office on Friday we typically say to coworkers, “Have a good weekend!”  Habit may be more at play here, but think about it.  If happiness and other positive emotions have a powerful influence on our immune system and contribute to overall improvement in strengthening our health or mental well-being, than wishing a friend or coworker a “good weekend” is powerful incentive.

Neuroscientist Tali Sharot writes in The Optimism Bias that when people are asked to rank the days of the week in order of preference, the work day Friday ranks higher than the weekend’s Sunday, simply because Friday offers the anticipation of a future benefit; the promise of pleasant weekend activity or maybe for some, the absence of activity–rest! Saturday ranks up there pretty high as well, but even a recreation-filled Sunday falls somewhat lower because  Monday and another full work week is coming!

Of course our genes have a lot to do with it, too! We do seem to come pre-packaged with different and very complex temperaments, but we have learned that what we spend time thinking about and where we put our “emotional thinking emphasis” can very often override some of that biology by stimulating our brain into conveying positive emotions–even tricking us into a feeling of better overall wellbeing.  It seems that just envisioning a future scenario that lifts us out of a current perhaps not so pleasant situation gives a big boost of exercise to those sometimes flabby coping mechanisms. Pretty cool stuff!!

So while I don’t exactly love working in the garden in July heat, I DO anticipate a cool drink at the end of the day while admiring the beauty of the finished project. And I am equally sure that the entire weekend will not be devoted to outdoor labor, although I may have to see to that myself. So, what are YOU most looking forward to this weekend?  Time with family?  Perhaps some quiet and uninterrupted time to watch a movie or finish a book you started weeks ago?  Maybe some window shopping in an air-conditioned mall?

If your first priority is detaching from the tyranny of a schedule and attending to rest while recalibrating after a crazy week, then being a happy recluse is just fine.  But if too much quiet  triggers an “oh no” then figure out a way to get out and find a connection. If  you’re at a loss and in need of suggestions, just look in your local weekend newspaper, or go on-line and check the wide array of local events.  Municipal parks, shopping centers, churches and museums are all offering free outdoor concerts and movie nights. There are so many good things being offered to get us up and out and anticipating the mental recharge!!  Maybe it’s time to choose a different weekend approach and actively stimulate those positive anticipatory responses!

Whatever you do, the key is anticipation!  Look ahead and find something pleasant to do.  Monday comes soon enough for all of us, so if you’re with others today, be sure to wish them well for the weekend!  And mean it for yourself, too!!  “Have a GREAT weekend!!”

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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