A moment just before

Just thinking about "hunny" makes Pooh happy! Disneyland, Anaheim, CA, April 2003

Just thinking about “hunny” makes Pooh happy! Disneyland, Anaheim, CA, April 2003

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
A.A. Milne

I can totally sympathize with Pooh here. I’ve always found Christmas Eve a bit better than Christmas morning, and planning for an exciting trip is at least half the fun of going.  While this preliminary excitement may set us up for anticlimax or disappointment with the actual event, it can also enhance our pleasure, extending special times by giving us an early start on the fun.

The joy of anticipation is strong evidence that mental imagery can exert as much or more power over our moods as our external circumstances do.  A number of studies suggest that visualization can improve athletic or competitive performance, and generating positive mental stimuli can improve mood and task response.

Of course, we don’t need to know all the scientific details to connect with what Pooh is thinking of here.  The most important thing to remember is that we can schedule happiness for ourselves, even in a day that holds no particular treat in store, by focusing on the things that make us happiest.

We all enjoy displays in museums and stores without needing to buy them or take them home.  We can enjoy the presence of a friend through reading or remembering a letter or a funny moment shared in the past.  In the same way, we tap into the happiness we feel when we see fresh flowers, take a sip of an ice-cold drink on a hot day, or relax in a hammock or easy chair when we feel tired, without actually doing any of those things, except in anticipation or memory.

Pooh didn’t know what to call this kind of bliss, and I don’t either.  But I agree with  him; it’s “what I like best.”  I hope that each day will bring you many moments of this unique felicity.

One year ago today:

It all depends




  1. Just what the doctor ordered! I like the idea of scheduling happiness. I like it so much, I’m going to write about it!

    • OOOOhh, be sure to send us a link! As my friend Ashleigh Brilliant has said, “If you only do what’s important, you will never have any fun…unless you consider having fun important.” 😀 Scheduling something is a great way to “get serious” about actually getting it done.

  2. raynard

    Julia as I get ready for work. I just took ” peek ‘@ at the Fight scene from The Matrix. Why? It encourages me to” see’ in my mind’. I always was one , if you cant see yourself doing it,you will lack confidence beliving you can achieve it. Enough babbling like” Dr Phil or Dr Oz for that matter. Now I feel Like singing”follow the yellow brick road. I digress

    • Raynard, I’ve read that Olympic athletes visualize themselves performing flawlessly. I can see where it would really help. I’m going to visualize myself “just saying no” to a bag of chips or some cookies. 😀 I’ll let you know if it works, but don’t hold your breath! I’d better go, our flight is about to board.

  3. I can understand Pooh’s feeling so well. We go to India during alternate vacations. This time we didn’t go, and so now we have started the countdown for the next vacation. Of course these months heralding it are more exciting than the actual vacation.

    • Bindu, what a disappointment that you missed your India trip. This will just make planning for the next one all the more exciting. Now you can look at online photos and dream of Kerala (or wherever you are going). We have not had any real vacations for almost two years but I keep planning for them — and that is almost as much fun, and far less tiring! 😀

  4. Alice Holbert

    I feel that way often too. The anticipation and the getting ready make it easy to visualize. But when the day arrives, I tend to let the chips fall where they may. My poor Stephanie is not able to do that. If the event does not match her vision she crumbles or flies into pieces. Perhaps I was that way when in my twenties. I am older for sure and have the experience to know when to get in a fizz.

    I pray for you and JD and Matt daily, wonder how you are. Roger Dotson has been my neighbor and our families have a 3 generation kinship. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the summer. They have a grandson a tad younger than yours. But we got him fighting mad now boy. He is taking Sarah Cannon treatments to help cell open to treatment, steroids the day of, and chemo. We chatted Sunday while was in Centerville and went by. Good positive attitude and I reminded them we are still blessed with Jeff’s presence. That was a booster as well. Much love, Alice

    • Alice, I think we were all a bit more easily upset when we were younger, although it seems to me that it’s also a personality type. I’ve always been way more flexible with travel plans, in particular, than Jeff is. He does not like surprises, especially negative ones. But life is teaching both of us to keep rolling with the punches. I know you can identify. I don’t know Roger Dotson but I’ve heard his name and I’m sorry to hear about his cancer. I hope he will keep fighting. Thanks so much for your prayers and encouragement. It means so much! ❤ Nice to see you here in the blog comments, also. I haven't had time to get to FB much lately. I think it's a combination of life getting faster and me getting slower! 😀

  5. Jack

    I think what we dream up psycho-speak to describe is really just good, old fashioned hope. And it’s all I really need. For those of us genetically predisposed to think the worst is how to get to the best. Looking at a God who loved enough to die for me should be all I need but oddly, much of the time it isn’t. Knowing in your head isn’t believing in your heart, pretty sure I’m well instructed about that fact too.

    But when I believe, I really believe, hope does indeed spring eternal. Blessings!

    • Hi Jack, I’m a believing type so hope is almost always there for me. When it’s not, I am fortunate to have other believers who surround me with optimism and reassurance that providence never gives out no matter how dark and rough the storm may be. Hope is not just political slogan. It’s a way of life and it does not depend on how things go. They are calling for boarding now after a few minutes’ storm delay, so I’ll go for now. ATL-DCA, here we come (I hope).

  6. Good Tuesday morning, my friend. I anticipate your blog with the wonderful wisdom through your photos and writings, with much this same feeling. 🙂 We can experience so many blissful moments, but I often think it’s the simplicity of such that makes it feel that way! I hope this week allows you many “hunny” moments. 🙂 Ta ta for now!

    • Thank you so much, Sheila! I’m about out of wifi range so I’ll run for now. TTFN!

  7. This post made me smile. Thank you.

    • Thank you Barb!

  8. Eeek, Disneyland and Pooh bear! This made my desire to go there at Christmas even stronger! Keeping with the theme, July of last year I booked our first trip taking our 2 boys to Disneyland at Christmas. So I pretty much freaked out from July to December 10th when we left and I loved the anticipation! Ha, it’s so true that getting ready for the trip was half the fun. The trip did not disappoint in anyway! We did not want to come home. Disneyland is wonderfully magical, but there is something even more magical and nostalgic at Christmas time. The entire vibe provides a plastered smile. Even while waiting in line, there is entertainment waiting around every corner 🙂

    • Jenelle, because I hate crowds and waiting in line, we have always avoided Disney at Christmas time. Maybe sometime we will have to give it a try going there. We’ll just ride the things there are FastPasses for, and soak up the atmosphere! I’ve heard people say it’s fabulous then. The Christmas decorations alone would be worth seeing. One great thing about planning way ahead (other than anticipation) is the ability to really make the best use of time by having a good strategy. It doesn’t mean you can’t leave cushions and free time, but it really does allow efficiency, especially at Disney where we always plan to eat at the least crowded times, maximize the FastPasses (I hope they still use them?) and minimize the walking, since there’s no way to avoid doing MILES of it even when you plan well.

  9. I’ve read a book called The Tao of Pooh (which was somewhat contrived and longer than need be, primarily because its main premise seemed to be that Pooh lives in the moment, and really, what more needs to be said about that? ) that would seem to be in direct conflict with this philosophy. Perhaps that author missed this very important point, which Pooh makes quite clear, and with which I concur: glad anticipation makes for a large part of the fun!

    • I think The Tao of Pooh was a cleverly marketed fusion of the popularity of Pooh, with the popularity of Eastern philosophy. I haven’t read it (though I do have The Te of Piglet which I picked up at a library used book sale) but I imagine it focuses in on those passages that underscore the “gimmick” of the Tao/Pooh premise, such as the oft-quoted one where Pooh says today is his favorite day, etc. As with almost any writing from almost any source, one can lift certain quotes from it that are not part of the overall context of the author’s intent or message. In any case, anticipation is definitely a big (maybe the biggest) part of the fun. AND if Pooh lived exclusively “in the moment” he wouldn’t spend so much time craving honey even when it wasn’t around! 😀

  10. bobmielke

    I’ve been on many “Big Adventures” using my many touring motorcycles. Those had had planning involved were sometimes more exciting to plan than to actual complete. For me the fun of motorcycle touring has always been the ride, not the destination.

    • Although I am scared of motorcycles, I can easily imagine that riding one would be more fun than arriving, at least for the first few hours. I think it would be tiring enough that arriving someplace after a long day (even if not at the the ultimate destination) would be very blissful. I think planning for any sort of “ground transportation” can be lots of fun. I love maps and finding tiny little towns I’ve never heard of.

    • I wholeheartedly concur!
      But I have to wear a full-face helmet so that I don’t get bugs in my teeth as I go smiling down the road! (Or singing – when bugs can actually get inside your mouth!)

      • I have enough problems with bugs in my face while I’m walking in the evening, so I can imagine it would be a big irritation on a bike. I would definitely be a full face helmet type if I rode, but more out of fear than anything else. Plus not being able to keep my contacts in when the air was blasting in my face. Though it seems like a full face helmet would get HOT!? Maybe not with that wind in the face.

  11. Michael

    This post seems in some ways very Buddhist in that you are also talking about “mindfulness” and being aware of the everyday joys like flowers, a cool drink on a hot day and perhaps a moment of remembrance of time with a friend. We often miss these everyday joys being distracted by so many things. If we were aware we would find ourselves surrounded by many tender mercies and everyday blessings.
    Last night was the first big rain for a time- a right fair amount- and I just turned off the radio and opened the window and had a listen. We have not heard the rain for a time in Seattle and now it is time to get ready as September is calling.
    Now that I see SuzyPax post on the Tao of Pooh -I think she is spot on. Pooh lives in the moment- mindfulness and we can all benefit from this mindset -thought we live in an age of a million distractions.
    Thich Nhat Hahn has a story about teaching a friend to eat an orange. Thich says,” no you did not eat it, you just wolfed it down,” and shows him another way, savoring each morsel- bit by bit- not stuffing it all in at once. Isn’t eating slowly one of the precepts for successful weight control? I should probably try it.
    Oh- I lost a good friend today- whom I think I mentioned previously had been on hospice for three months. He passed peacefully last night.

    • Michael, WOW I didn’t know it ever went a long time without rain in Seattle. I don’t blame you for opening the windows and listening. I love to do that, but it gets too muggy here if we try it in the summertime. There’s hardly anything more calming to me than the sound of rain. We have our “white noise” machine set to “rain” every night but it’s not the same as the real thing! I think we all rush through eating, rather than savor each bite as we should. It reminds me of how our dog used to do, as if he was afraid the food would disappear before he had the chance to eat it all. I do think it helps with weight control if we eat slowly. The one thing I am good at eating slowly is chocolate. It amazes me to see people chewing through a candy bar. I like to let each bite melt in my mouth, prolonging the experience as much as possible. If I ate everything the way I ate chocolate, I’d probably have no trouble controlling my eating.

    • Michael, I am so sorry to hear that you lost your friend. I hope that his final months were peaceful and happy for his family and him. I will pray for all of them and for you, as you cope with losing him. Even when we know it is coming, that final earthly goodbye can be very hard.

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