Improve your party experience (and life)

party2

You’re at a party you’ve been looking forward to for months. Unfortunately, the DJ set seems to be a mix of Whitney Houston classics and White Snake hits (yes, they had more than one), your wardrobe is seriously malfunctioning and that hottie you were expecting to see didn’t turn up. The hygienically-challenged best mate on the other hand has, and you’ve been treated to an invigorating account of the best parking places in town (I’ve honestly had that conversation. He didn’t get my number).

Have you ever experienced a greatly anticipated event like that? I know I have.

Imaginative brain

The thing is, I’m rather rubbish at keeping my expectations under control. I have an over-imaginative brain and on the top floor of my being, a lot of wildly thought up adventures take place before they actually have. And often they never will at all.

Ever since I was old enough to actually think about my birthday, I would visualise the event weeks in advance: The presents, the cake, would mum have gotten me that pink frilly dress I casually pointed out? (No. Sadly my parents didn’t believe in highly flammable garments. Still don’t). And not just my birthday: outings, field trips, first day of school, anything out of the ordinary would be subjected to my fantasy.

Pre-gloating

It didn’t stop when I got older. I’m a planner: holidays, trips, jogging-routes, and yes I always go to the supermarket with a list. And planning a party used to take weeks: crafting invitations, creating the perfect playlist, doing shopping, cleaning the cat-flap with a toothbrush (what, you don’t?).

And with the planning the pre-gloating would start: picturing a lively dance floor, people complimenting me on my choice of tunes and snacks, guests enjoying themselves in the garden.. But when the evening finally came it didn’t go as expected: not everyone would turn up, people would prefer talking to dancing (Was it the music? Bell Biv Devoe anyone?), and it would rain. It’d still be a good party but just not the one I had in my head. And I’d spend the evening stressed (and drunk) because things weren’t going the way I had pictured.

Just don’t expect

Obviously, pre-picturing events was not doing much good. It was like staging a play, rehearsing it in my head, and trying to direct people who didn’t know they were in it. Something needed to change. A friend of mine is never stressed at her own party and she has never been to a bad one thrown by someone else. Clearly she was the person to talk to:

Me: “So you’ve never been to a party that you thought would be brilliant but turned out to be worse than Kevin Federline’s album release party? Or more accurate: a party where Kevin Federline was headlining?” **

Her: “Nope. Who’s Kevin Federline?”

Me: “You’re not the only one wondering. But wait, you’ve never expected an event to be the best thing ever but looking back on it, checking in your coat was the highlight of the evening? What’s your secret?”

And she said: “I just don’t expect.”

Taking down the pre-gloater

This threw me. Was that possible? Not to expect anything? Of course she would look forward to something, but not imagine already being there before actually being there. She would not anticipate who would attend, not picture events taking place, not plan meeting her future husband. Because guess what: you don’t have control over that.

I knew she was right of course. The only thing you have control over is your own behaviour (more or less) (and getting less with every downed glass of wine). The more you plan, the less you will enjoy reality. You might enjoy the moment, but not for the right reason. You might enjoy it because it’s going as planned but not notice its meaning or impact. And if you’ve already had that moment in your head, how special can it be the second time around? Thinking about it will just take away the shine and intensity.

But how the bloody hell would I take down the pre-gloater in me? I like the anticipation! I like the imagining! But all that thinking ahead was causing (at least) 2 things:

1. I was creating a future in my head that would not happen. Not in the way I thought anyway.
2. And this is very important: I wasn’t living my actual life. I was living a fictional one in my head and missing out on the real thing.

Enjoying the present

So one of the ways I try to stop pre-gloating (god it took long enough to get here didn’t it?) is that whenever I get an invitation to a party, I still get excited, but: I try to talk little about it, not find out anything and not picture myself there looking my damn finest. I just get on with the present: appreciate the things that are taking place right now. I smell a piece of chocolate before I take a bite, I get up from behind my computer to stand in a patch of sun in my garden for a few minutes, and I actually remind myself that I’m having a cup of tea when I’m having a cup of tea, or am brushing my teeth or am simply walking somewhere, just to get me in the present (sounds suspiciously like mindfulness doesn’t it?).

And I keep busy! If I start thinking too much I walk, run, do the dishes, hoover the house, or dance. Anything to grind that big grey walnut upstairs to a halt. And I get two for the price of one: my present is better because I’m actually there, and my future is better because I’m not trying to pre-live it.

I still plan, naturally, but less(ish).

Be bold and live life without rehearsals.

Note: For us expectors (is that a word?) I have good (but confusing) news: there’s a way to use expectations to actually give your life a positive turn. I’ll write about that in my next post.

 

** Bad mouthing or ridiculing other people is very bad for your karma. Don’t do it people.

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The Spark Plug Chronicles