They just might be the saddest, most disturbing words in the English language – “I have nothing to look forward to.” That’s probably because all of us find pleasure in our lives when there are “good” times ahead. Looking back, which we all do, presents a mixed picture, wonderful memories, but also disappointments and “might have beens.” Looking forward, on the other hand, is typically upbeat, filled with anticipatory delights coming your way.
Looking forward encompasses a time frame that ranges from several hours to weeks and months and well beyond. Daily we’re likely to look forward to our lunch break, end of the work day, rejoining our family and getting into bed to watch favorite television programs. TGIF tells us that the end of the work week is a time eagerly anticipated as is the weekend when we’re able to relax, take in a movie, head off to a favorite restaurant, enjoy a day trip, watch our teams in action on TV, be with friends and relatives whose company we enjoy.
Considering the longer term there are the holidays to look forward to, a major family event (anniversaries, significant birthdays, births, graduations, marriages, etc.), as well as vacations, concerts and sporting events. Also, the purchase of a home and for some, prison release or end of a military tour of duty. Stretching the time horizon even further, most all of us look forward to retirement, to pursuing hobbies, to lengthy vacation trips, to grandchildren, and, in the end, hopefully to our entry into heaven.
While we live in the moment, when we look forward the future becomes very much a part of our present, has considerable bearing on the way we perceive our lives, our state of mind, how we manage when times are difficult. Looking forward to specific events helps spark our Imaginations, allows us to relish a future happening many times over as the day draws near (the intervening period often regarded as an unwelcome “delay”). It’s what buoys our spirits, sustains us, helps infuse into an often lackluster present the delights and satisfactions the future promises to provide.