The tyranny of anticipation

What is more exciting? The anticipation of pleasure or its realization?

As we see with vacations or eating at our favourite restaurant, a large part of our pleasure comes from looking forward to and planning the event. Our thoughts about a particular experience become parts of the experience itself.

And yet, several experiences do not live up to our expectations once we realize them. The anticipation of eating a piece of cake is often more fulfilling than the act itself. Once we actually eat the first piece of cake, it often fails to live up to our heightened expectations, and therefore, we reach for the second and the third piece.

The expectations that arise in our thoughts always keep us unfulfilled, while driving us towards the object of pleasure – much like hanging a carrot in front of a horse. Whenever we get used to our current levels of comfort, we are looking for ways to upgrade it.

The tyranny of anticipation keeps us in a race while constantly moving the finish line away.

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