"The best things in life are unexpected-because there were no expectations." ~ Eli Khamarov
"When one's expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have." ~ Stephen Hawking
OK, so its 7:30am and I am awake in bed thinking that I need to blog...like now. For anyone who knows me, the fact that I am even awake at 7:30am is quite an event. The fact that I am doing something relatively productive at this time of day is just amazing. I am finding though that I enjoy writing the most when I am inspired and the result of this is today's blog.
So what was I thinking about when I woke up this morning? Expectations...the ones I have of you, the ones you have of me, the ones we have in our everyday life and how they can be a great cause of confusion, miscommunication, and general dissatisfaction. In the past, I have spent too much time being frustrated and disappointed in the people around me and even worse, in myself. Over a period of time, I have come to realize that it wasn't always that I failed or that other people failed me, but that it was the expectations that started the trouble in the first place! Now this in no way means that you or I should let people treat us with little respect, take advantage of us, or not strive to make a better lives for ourselves. However it does mean that instead of focusing on what we WANT to happen, we instead be more open to what WILL happen.
I am sure someone is sitting there thinking (or I am going to get an e-mail about it), well what is wrong with having expectations? What is wrong with wanting the best from yourself and others? My answer to that would be: don't confuse expectations with ambition or motivation. The word expectation is defined many different ways. One definition is as follows:
*notion of something: a mental image of something expected, often compared to its reality. (MSN Encarta).
THIS is where we run into problems..."compared to reality". The reality here folks is that we are all human. Is it nice to run our heads through fantasy land every so often? You bet. This is especially true when we are going through times of change, uncertainty, or stress. I think though that when the mental images become more fantasy than reality, is when we set ourselves up for the biggest disappointments. This is because most of the time, they cannot compare. In fantasy world, our coworkers do their jobs giving 100% (or at least 50%) all the time, partners can anticipate our every need without us ever uttering a word, and our kids get through Thanksgiving dinner without a scene. Here is the reality though: our expectations are usually different than the ones other people have. The coworker that is driving you crazy may think they are giving 100% by playing a game with a patient rather than making the patient's bed. Your partner may think they did good by picking up some of your favorite ice cream on the way home while forgetting to mail the bills. Your child may think they behaved perfectly because they didn't toss a roll at their brother's head during Thanksgiving dinner, even though they subsequently had a tantrum over finishing their dinner. In all these instances, everyone is right. They all met their own expectations.
I think Mr. Hawking (in one of the above quotes) really has the right idea. Maybe it seems a little extreme for some people to have zero expectations but for those of use who expect way too much, aiming for zero will possibly put us in the "average" category! I am finding that since I have started to not have so many expectations of myself and others, that life has gotten a whole lot less frustrating. I appreciate more of what people do have to offer and I tend to be much gentler with myself as well.
I have an event coming up soon I was experiencing some anxiety about. I pretty much attributed it to a variety of factors, but could not exactly pinpoint what had me in such a state. Then in a conversation with a friend (and a very wise one at that!), he made me realize that maybe it was my expectations of the event that were getting in the way. I had so many expectations for how I wanted it to go, that I was not giving it a chance to just let it be what it was going to be. I realized how right he was when I actually slept well through the night and woke up with a whole new calm perspective.
So I guess all I have left to say this morning is hang on to hope, ambition, anticipation, and possibility. In the process of doing this though, remember to keep your expectations of yourself and others realistic, attainable, and most importantly not in the way of enjoying whatever you may be experiencing today.