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.