Do you have something to look forward to?
How can anticipating something give people a sense that their lives are worth living? Nick Kemp shares that having something to look forward to may contribute to a person's overall well-being, happiness, and life satisfaction.
What do you have to look forward to?
Pioneering researcher and author of the seminal book Ikigai-ni-tsuite, Kamiya Mieko, who I like to think of as the mother of ikigai, writes about the importance of having the need for a bright future.
What she uses for this need is mirai-sei (a bright future). She writes about the importance of having a bright future and feeling that you’re working towards that future. When you do have a bright future, it helps you get through the struggles or problems in your life.
Kamiya recommended having both short-term achievable goals and long-term ambitions or dreams. Now, related to this concept is another Japanese word, tanoshimi which can translate to enjoyment as a word, but it’s also used as a phrase to mean to look forward to.
When I lived in Japan, I remember hearing this word quite often, tanoshimi. If I said something like “I’m gonna see a movie on the weekend.” my Japanese friends would say tanoshimi-na ne. I found it quite unusual how often the word would be used.
But it soon became one of my favourite words and one of my favourite expressions. So the point is: what do you have to look forward to? In English we could relate this to anticipatory pleasure: where you have something or many things to look forward to.
The anticipation of these things, these positive things, meeting friends, going to concerts or going out for dinner, creates a feeling of excitement, joy, and obviously positive anticipation.
So having many things to look forward to has this function of making your life feel worth living.
There’s a double benefit: you have the anticipation of the event and then eventually, you’ll experience the event. So if you make a plan to catch up with friends, like going out to dinner, you have that to look forward to.
So there’s a source of enjoyment, excitement, catching up with friends, and the idea of eating a delicious meal, and then when you actually experience that event, you’ll also have that enjoyment.
So we can take this idea of having things to look forward to, and make it a practice. You could schedule things to look forward to for every week. This will add to your overall well-being, happiness, and life satisfaction. So what do you have to look forward to?