November 22, 2018
I owe this one to my friend Anne Moniz – songwriter, guitarist, and one of the finest singers you will ever hear. I had the pleasure of starting the band Nimway with Anne a few years ago, and while I don’t play in the band anymore, I’m really proud of the EP we did together. I was listening to said EP recently and took a few moments to message Anne and tell her – again – how great I think she is.
She came back to me with a question that has since become one of my favourites.
She wrote, “What are you most excited about right now?”
The question froze my fingers on the keyboard. I couldn’t even answer it. I had to walk away and think about it for awhile . Not just the answer to the question, but the question itself.
What are you most excited about right now?
How cool is that?
Most times people ask how you’re doing or how it’s going – throw-away questions that are more like verbal tics than real communication. Usually when you ask that sort of question you don’t wait for the answer, even if the person bothers to give you one. "What are you most excited about right now?” demands your attention, and I love it because it automatically puts your focus on the positive.
It forces you, even if it’s only for a second, to look at the bright side.
How many of us actually do that? How many of us go looking for things to be excited about? How much difference could that make to your life? How dramatically could it reframe your perspective?
For example, I’m affected by weather. Winter can be a real problem for me, and it seems to have come very early to my part of the world. It’s cold. There’s snow on the ground already. It’s a huge drag for me, and normally I’d really struggle not to dwell on it. Instead, I find myself asking what I’m most excited about. I think about it every day. It’s a wonderful exercise for bringing yourself out of a bad thought spiral or negative headspace.
When Anne asked me the question I had a couple of recording sessions coming up with Carly Thomas and Sarah Smith. That was exciting. I have a show with my good friend Deni Gauthier this weekend and that’s exciting. I’m still standing here in front of this metaphysical blank space, waiting to see what opportunities come along. The frightened part of me finds it difficult to be excited by that, but the part of me that dreams, that hopes, that believes is excited about the possibilities.
Also, I have tickets to see Ghost in Toronto next month. What could be more exciting than that?
I know this question can be a double-edged sword. I know that depression and anxiety can cloud the answer, and that some people are so addicted to the negative view that they just can’t find the other side. I know that asking the question will make some people focus on having nothing to be excited about. I don’t have an answer for those people that won’t seem flippant or empty. This time of year can make things worse and I encourage people to get professional help if they need it.
But if you’re open to the positive, if you’re searching for something, if you need to look at things a little differently, begin asking the question. Ask it of yourself and ask it of other people. What are you most excited about? Christmas? A family vacation? A project at work? A new start? It doesn’t have to be a life-changing thing. It’s okay to be most excited about having coffee with a friend tomorrow afternoon.
The key is to pay attention to what excites you. I mean what genuinely excites you. Not the stuff you have to pretend is exciting for your job or your spouse or whoever you think might be paying attention. The stuff that really excites you. Why do you think it has that effect? What is it giving you that you need? Are those things lacking from your life? Do you need more of them? Is it an affirmation? A direction? Emotions are guideposts, and excitement is a big one.
If you think you have nothing to be excited about, I urge you to change your perspective. Man, some days just having air in your lungs is enough to get you excited. And don’t deny your excitements, at least to yourself. Some things are private. Goals, hopes, wants. Sometimes people make fun of you for being excited about things. Don’t let their bitterness suck the air out of your dream. Your excitements belong to you and no one else. Keep them quiet if you like, but don’t deny them inside. Inquire into them. Play with them. Think about what you might do with them.
Indulge that energy and see where it leads.
The results can be very exciting indeed.
And now, here's Nimway: