My mentor, Norman Cousins, used to tell me, “We head in the direction of our expectations.” Never have I felt the need for these words more than now. As my husband, Paul, and I head to the clinic for his heart surgery – (we’ll be there by the time you are reading this) – I am setting my sights on his eyes opening afterwards and breathing easily. I anticipate a positive outcome because statistics are on our side, and Paul is very fit. But there are times when I worry. Conflicting feelings are familiar to all of us, whether we’re anticipating a test for school, a job interview, a tough conversation with an employer, friend or beloved partner, or our own determination to lose those five pounds we gained over the holidays. “We head in the direction of our expectations.”
Sometimes I wish I was my cat. Rusty anticipates his food, purrs when I scratch his chin, and leaves the room when he sees my suitcase. That’s the extent of his anticipation! He doesn’t spend time worrying about whether I’m coming back, where I am, or whether I had a car accident. Nor does he send me annoying text messages saying, “Where r u? When r u coming home?” Humans are different this way. We all have our moments of anticipating either the worst or the best outcome.
The key is, we can choose. Empowerment means taking hold of the voices inside us and turning them in the direction of our goal.
Norman Cousins knew how to focus his mind on the positive. In his book Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient, he attributed laughter and Vitamin C to his remarkable recovery from a disease of the connective tissues. He watched funny movies or thought up pranks to stimulate his endorphins, those natural pain and stress fighters that send signals to our brain and nervous system. Norman called laughter a form of “internal jogging.”
When I get scared, I tend to outpace myself in anticipation of what might go wrong. As I head out of town towards the day of Paul’s surgery, I’m filling my mind with images of healing, and soothing my heart by listening to Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
May you find whatever you need in anticipation of your next challenge. I will share the song with you here for inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9ZMDPf9hZw
What challenge are you facing right now?
How can you empower yourself to anticipate the best possible outcome?