A Happy Peach

Things that make my heart smile…

Expectations…

10 Comments

It has been my experience that people set goals and accompanied with those goals are fabricated expectations. For example some people go to college and work hard to get their degree and expect to find what they perceive to be the perfect job with a set salary. They also believe that this chain of events will make them happy. In this example the initial event goal is to graduate from college with the expected byproduct of a dream job, but upon graduation you realize that while you have achieved your initial goal and the dream job you expected may be more of a goal than a byproduct. Say you define your dream job and with effort acquire that position, your next expectation is that this job will make you happy. But for some reason or another you may not be happy. If this happens you are left with a feeling of disappointment, which can be very difficult to accept and deal with.

Most people do not enjoy being disappointed, I wanted to say all of us but there are just some people who do want to be disappointed. Most of us want to be happy, well I think we do. Happiness can be simple as simple as just choosing to be happy or we can make it this difficult and unachievable goal. It’s a decision we make each and every day, whether or not we realize it. We make a lot of these types of decisions all day long, even though they may seem instinctive rather than cognitive. We’re thirsty, we have to choose if we drink and what to drink if we do, we have an expectation of what it will taste like and our goal is to quench the thirst. If we analyze this simple chain of events further we realize that this was more of an exercise in fulfilling a need, being thirsty was a problem and it probably bothered you and was the impetus to act. You would have drunk till you were satiated and the problem of thirst was solved, effectively removing the thing that bothered you. The removal of the thirst which bothered you may have brought you, if even subconsciously, a bit of happiness. I think the value of these types of cause and effect events can have a pendulum like quality, the greater the desire the greater the expected outcome.

The previous paragraph reads like a clinical report, but was meant to demonstrate logically our thought process. It was also meant to introduce some thoughts on what may be the cause of our unhappiness, namely expectations and desires. Both desire and expectations set you up for the possibility of disappointment. If you take a sip of water expecting soda you are going to be surprised and probably disappointed. You’ll also, for a minute, be confused and frustrated till you adjust your thinking. There is nothing wrong with water, but if it’s not what you desired or expected you won’t be happy. If you drink it without any real expectation, you will taste the water for what it is.

Removing expectation creates the opportunity to experience the moment as it is, rather than creating a closed desired outcome which limits the experience. Desire in and of itself is a sign of lacking, we want something because we feel we do not  have it. We feel that we are missing something and that we must find a way of remedying it, we define goals based on it and our actions follow this logic of lack in accordance with our plan of acquisition. We create a limited set of desired outcomes, a lot of times based on external cues and what we think we should want, and define them as our expectations. But to me that limits our life experiences and can make us miserable.

Now, there is nothing wrong with goals and planning, it can be a helpful exercise, but put them into perspective and allow them to be adaptive. Life does not typically go according to your plan. When you understand and accept that you can adjust your thinking and the better off you will be. If you don’t have strict expectations then you are less likely be disappointed, rather if you set up your goals and plans with logical outcomes but not invest too much emotionally in them you will able to adapt to any changes when you need to. Releasing yourself from the burden of desire will allow you to relinquish that feeling of lack. When you want what you have, you will never feel that you are without. After you release yourself from those constraints you can see that happiness is available to you in the here and now. You will be able to decide that you are happy, that you have all that you need and appreciate your relationships and environment, the rest becomes your future footsteps.  You may also find it easier to see and make the changes that you need to in life.

It’s just a matter of removing all the shoulds in your life, shoulds will only lead to a state of constant dismay. At least this is what I have gathered from my experiences in life. I have come to understand that the journey is more important than the destination and that one should pack accordingly :D.

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10 thoughts on “Expectations…

  1. Good advice and I love Carly simon!

    • Sometimes it’s advice that I need to remind myself of. I love Carly Simon and I can’t believe how young she looks in that video.

  2. Very thought-provoking entry Danielle. I’d like to share this Chinese saying which translates to: “The smaller your expectations, the smaller your dissapopintments” 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing that saying, I really appreciate it. I think there is a difference in how Eastern culture views life as opposed to Western thinking. I think there is such an attachment to status and physical things that we can forget that it’s just contrived objects and social thinking.
      I guess I’ve been over a lot of these sort of things lately.

  3. A very thoughtful post, Danielle….you obviously put a lot of heart in it. I have always said that expectations are relationship killers, and that means ALL relationships – relatives, spouses, friends. For example, when you have expectations from someone, that person is always doomed to fail because sadly, you are the only one aware of your expectations. The person on the receiving end has no idea and thus will never fulfill your desire….which then makes everything start spiralling downwards. As far as material possessions go, all the points you made were so valid, especially when you stated “when you want what you have, then you never feel that you are without”. How so very true, simple and honest.

    • I absolutely agree, when we develop expectations of others, no matter the relationship, it is bound to damage the bond. It’s terrible really, and a hard thing to not develop them sometimes, because they can be instinctive. I know that it has hurt a few relationships in my past, either on my part or the other persons part. Now that isn’t to say that we shouldn’t have standards, like I don’t like to be involved with people that I think may have a negative impact on my life. I’ve learned that some people bring a lot of problems, the ones who only think about themselves or who are completely inconsiderate. I know that their actions have had a negative affect on my life so my choice is stay clear of them when I can and limit my contact with them. But life has taught me to care for my friends, wish for the best for them, but not stress myself out over the friendship. That way I try not to develop expectations and allow the friendship to develop naturally.
      Isn’t it funny how our lives can be simple if we just allow it. I think I’ve been thinking about my life a lot lately, so I’ve been very introspective. I have been thinking about what to do with myself and haven’t come up with the ideal path so I don’t even know how to start. I think a big part of it is starting over and making more creative decisions and taking myself out of this little imaginary corrugated box that I’ve made. The box isn’t healthy and tends to be stifling.

  4. Well, the fact that you recognize the box for what it is, is not only an excellent start, but will lead you to the path of self-discovery. It’s when we bury our head in the sand and refuse to acknowledge where our choices have led us, that positive change can never be allowed to flourish. As far as not knowing where to start, it’s simple, really: first, define what you do NOT want – make a list, if it helps. Then, start thinking of those things you do which give you that “feel-good” feeling deep inside and perhaps some of that can be parlayed into where you want to go. Lastly, take the time and have the patience to just “be”; it’s been my experience that we cannot dictate the direction of our path, but that doesn’t mean we have no input. It’s just that everything happens for a reason and when you try to force a thing too much, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t then turn out like you wished. I have no doubt, my friend, that it will come to you…..have faith!

    • Thanks so much for your words, they are very helpful and encouraging.

      It feels like I discover myself in stages, I come to different understandings at different times. I think that’s just the way that it happens. I have been giving a lot of consideration as to what I do like and what I don’t like. I think I’ve done myself the greatest disservice by being dismissive of my passion. I tend to think I can’t make it into a career and go towards something more pragmatic with the conventional thinking that it would be the more logical alternative. Inevitably I come to the conclusion(s) that it was a poor choice, but in a way I think they were experiences I needed to have, they’ve grounded me in a way. I do have a mental list of what I don’t like, it feels like I have a lifetime of experience with that. But I also have a list of what I love to do, that list always seems to be filled with creating things. I think what I need to do is get over the misunderstanding that I can’t make it a career and give happiness the opportunity to blossom (now that makes me want to put on a pretty pink polish:D). I think I have spent too much time attempting to force things (in my youth), and I have come to realize you can’t force life. I think I have become anxious though, and that’s not a good feeling, it tends to clouds ones vision.

      I will try to just Be and let things unfold the way they will. Thanks so much for your wonderful words.

  5. I like this post , a lot. It’s very true and gives me lots to think about. Oh and I loved Tien’s proverb. 🙂

    • I am so glad you enjoyed it, it’s that food for thought sort of thing. Isn’t it great how probing one thought will just lead to someone opening another thought. Tien’s proverb is excellent. I think this may be a bit of an eastern philosophical way of thinking. Glad to see you here my friend. 😀

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