It's got to be on millions of people's bucket lists. It was on mine, too. My friends and I were going to Jordan, and my one must-do was to go to Petra, the famous city carved from rock in a canyon. And yet, as we were about to go, I didn't want to go anymore.
Going just didn't sound that interesting to me. I imagined making the three hour drive, looking around, being unfulfilled, and then coming back.
The night before, I felt the same way about going to the dead sea. It was cold, and all I wanted to do was sit in the warm car. Even as I paid my $15 and shivered my way down to the water, I told everyone I wasn't going to go in because the water would be too cold.
A few days later we arrived in Egypt. I tried to get excited, but mostly I was looking forward to our flight out of there to the next place.
We went to Petra, and had an amazing adventure and a great time. I did go into the dead sea and it was, again, a great experience. And the trip to Egypt was probably the coolest thing I've done in 2015 so far.
I'd say that I'm bad at judging how much I'll like something, but you might notice that I'm never overestimating things. I'm just being pessimistic.
I haven't become generally pessimistic. In fact, as I think about the future, I'm almost universally optimistic and excited. My life is good. Things are going well for the people I love. I think the world is headed in a good direction. But when it comes to activities I've scheduled for myself, I'm consistently underestimating how much I'll enjoy them.
This is the kind of thing I stay vigilant for. Thought patterns are powerful, so they must be managed. Everyone's free to cultivate whatever thoughts they think are best, but I personally want no negativity in my brain.
The solution is awareness and proactive reframing. Now I notice when I'm being pessimistic about an activity, and I think about past things I've done. When was the last one that let me down? Well... I can't think of any. What are some good things about what I'm about to do? And slowly I start feeling optimistic again.
These sorts of self-manipulation feel clunky and awkward at first, but I've done enough now to tell you what the result will be: in a month or so I'll be back to being positive about everything I'm signed up for, and I'll stop having to manually manipulate my thoughts.
Be vigilant for thought patterns you don't like, nip them in the bud, and make sure your autopilot is flying smooth skies.
Photo is some dirt at Petra, since I've already posted pictures of Petra.
I forgot that I wrote this post, but I did start reframing. Now I'm excited about all of my trips, including the one I'm on.
Currently halfway through my transatlantic cruise, and more than half way through writing my next book. I think it's going to be a good one! Today's our first port day, in Horta, Faial, so we're catching up on internet stuff.
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I think you could sum this up saying: you are generally optimistic about the future, but typically carry low expectations on how happy something will make you. This is good because you are consistently "pleasantly surprised" (research shows low expectations are correlated with happiness) but not so pessimistic as to obstruct your own goals (which would, practically speaking, allow for less achievement and fulfillment). The nuance here is that low expectations do not necessarily imply pessimism (though they often may) - your case highlights this difference. I'd say that, similarly, I have an optimistic mindset that "things will work out" in a general, long-term sense but when it comes to upcoming events, I will intentionally lower expectations knowing that the difference between expectations and reality is what will bring me happiness. It works for me.
I've been reading "Stumbling on Happiness" which basically says the same thing, that we're terrible at predicting how something in the future will make us feel. Anything that makes us feel a little bit bad in the present moment (low blood sugar, tired, grumpy) will tend to bleed into our predictions about the future and about how we'll feel.
Nice post! High level on your posts lately Tynan! I guess you have more time and energy to write after putting Sett on the back burner.
You could further emphasise this by thinking "what kind of friend would I rather be one, the optimistic one excited about forthcoming adventures or the pessimistic one that has to be dragged along". I know for at fact that I personally will only do the dragging so many times. I'll always strive towards being the positive optimistic one.I found this podcast about MMA on artofmanliness, I think you'll appreciate it MMA Podcast from Artofmanliness.com
Been emailing you about Sett (April 3rd, April 21st) but no reply so far. Is there a better email address I should send to? Need to cancel my subscription and arrange a refund.
What if your pessimistic thoughts are lowering your expectations making every experience that much better? I tend to be let down when things are hyped up. My expectations are so high that it can't be met. So maybe having low expectations is a good thing.
This kind of thought pattern is well documented in the book 'Feeling Good' by Dr David Burns. The book is about depression and how to overcome it using cognitive therapy. He gives a simple exercise. List all the things that you have to do and in front of each task write how much you think you will enjoy it and after doing it write how much you actually enjoyed it (predicted satisfaction and actual satisfaction from 0-100%). Almost everyone finds that they hugely underestimate the satisfaction gained from any activity.
I just finished up a 12 hour workday. I got a lot of stuff done, took only the bare minimum in breaks, etc. All I wanted to do afterwards was watch Elementary, a modern Sherlock Holmes show. Somehow my "no new shows" rule gets bypassed for new shows about Sherlock Holmes, and I've been enjoying this one.
Last week I watched Elementary. I noticed that while I was watching, I was also doing other stuff on my computer-- organizing files, cleaning up email, checking things online. The anticipation of watching the show was extraordinary, but the actual experience didn't measure up. It was enjoyable, relaxing, stimulating, etc, but not as great as I expect it to be.
As I've written about before, I'm one of those people who has pretty poor impulse control. That's why I give myself so many black and white rules that Absolutely Cannot Be Broken. If my impulses see a crack in my resolve, they push through it. Being someone with poor impulse control is a really bad thing, too; the habit is correlated with less success in pretty much every area.
You'll notice, though, that I'm not watching Elementary right now. Instead I'm writing a blog post. For someone as prone to impulse as I am, it's important to rely on tricks while simultaneously buliding up resistance to impulse over the long term.
I really love my readership. There's so many really cool, expansive, ass-kicking people here, and I'm glad you tune in and hang out. When someone comments or drops me a line, I'm thrilled.
Lately I've noticed something though - people seem to think I'm super-optimist.
Not the case at all.
Actually, I'd say my general mood comes out like this:
70% of the time: not thinking about it specifically or overall pessimistic 20% of the time: moderate optimism 10% of the time: feeling unstoppable