Lynne Conlan is executive director of the South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the beginning of 2021, I told my board of directors we would hold an Expo this year, or I would die trying. Well, that was a little overly dramatic. But after we finished up with our first Expo in 2020, the pandemic hit and our second Expo of that year became a drive-through. While it was fun and successful, it just wasn’t the same. So fast forward to 2021, and we had another huge problem. No venues were available for the expo due to pandemic restrictions. But I had promised. I know, too dramatically.
But I did get caught up in all the anticipation for this year. The anticipation of getting our Expo put back in place was so darned exciting, for me…for everyone!
18th-century English writer Samuel Johnson pointed out that “The anticipation of change is one of the greatest sources of human happiness.”
The Covid-19 pandemic is confirming the veracity of Johnson’s observation. When we are forced to lose the joy of anticipation — basically when people can no longer make plans with confidence or look forward to future events — we tend to struggle emotionally and psychologically.
Johnson pointed out an important aspect of human psychology, “Much of life’s joy is wrapped up in expectation. We need to look forward to a new adventure, a new event, a new something.” For many of us, that something was our annual Expo.
According to Gary Small, MD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UCLA, “People right now are experiencing a great sense of loss. The things we anticipate reflect our sense of self and who we are and on who we are going to be in the future.”
Small compares our current pandemic to one in which two people have called off an engagement. “It’s not just an immediate sense of loss but the loss of things they’d looked forward to or hoped for.”
There’s evidence that some forms of anticipation can reduce stress and anxiety. A 2015 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that anticipating a positive event can bolster a person’s mood and may help that individual endure a stressful task or event. “Having things to look forward to is a major coping strategy,” said Christian Waugh, Ph.D, co-author of the study and an associate professor of psychology at Wake Forest University. “It helps us recover and adapt to stressors.”
How does anticipation do this? Waugh claims that the human brain can only focus on a couple things at a time. “So, when you have positive anticipatory things in your mind, there’s just less room for negative thoughts,” he said. “There’s an overall better profile of positive to negative.”
So, we did it. The Expo happened. I want to thank Kings Point for giving us access to Veteran’s Theatre. The place was key, and you certainly came through. Our members, I know you wanted to get back into action, but thank you for keeping that hope alive. Without you, we couldn’t have pulled the Expo off. And the residents who attended the Expo, I know you enjoyed getting to know our member businesses. But you didn’t have to come. You wanted to. And for that we thank you.
And in the spirit of anticipatory joy, just remember the Chamber Cup Classic Golf Tournament is October 22. And we just cannot wait for you to join us! As always – please stay safe.