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Our Habit of Dread

The opposite of hope is dread. There’s been a lot of talk about hope lately, but when I try the experiment Elizabeth Gilbert began, asking complete strangers, “What are you excited about right now?” the answers I tend to get initially (from people I know, so the answers are more relaxed) are often downright depressing, and nothing like the transformative stories she collected.

What I am seeing is that many people don’t even think to be excited about love, adventure, fulfillment, change, opportunity, abundance, healing, forgiveness, or even the chance to be with someone special, including themselves. What people are excited about – almost 100% of the people I asked – is relief from some sort of burden of the moment. They are excited NOT to have to pay something; NOT to have to spend time doing something they hate; NOT to have to go somewhere, say something, be somebody that they are dreading.

I propose that this is not because they don’t have things to be excited about. They DO. I propose they are simply out of practice of the simple exercise of enjoying being excited. A lack of excitement can suck the joy right out of life. Still, it doesn’t have to be that way. All it takes is a little practice. Every day, stop and ask yourself, “What am I excited about right now?” That first cup of coffee? Rocking out in your car at the stop light? Celebrating your child’s birthday? Celebrating another day cancer free? Some time with a really good book? Your first trip to Italy? Large or small, it all matters. It matters now more than ever that you look for it, as often as the things you dread.

This is just as true in business as in life. Where we focus our attention, flourishes. What are you staring at? Excitement? Or dread? Try excitement for a while just to see how things change.

What are you excited about right now?

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