Have you ever heard the term: “The curse of expectations?” It is commonly used to describe our foolish way of thinking in which others view the world the same way we do. E.g. “I expect you to like me the way I like you”, “I expect you to be interested in the things I´m interested”, “I expect you to reply my texts/comments right away”, “I expect you to think like I do”, “I expect you to suit my needs”, “I expect you to be thankful for what I´ve done for you”, “I expect you to tell me what I want to hear”, “I expect you to be perfect” the list is never-ending & nonsensical.
When we expect people to behave according to how we view the world – our world – or how we think they should behave in certain situations (specially towards us), we are in for an epic disappointment. We have to learn to accept more than to expect if we are striving for peace from within. By leaving our expectations of people, things & situations to the minimum, we are more prone to accept them as they are, thus contenting ourselves with all the good they can bring. We need to learn to accept pain in our lives as well, rather than expecting everything should be perfect.
“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ I accepted it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for”- C.S. Lewis
But the truth is we all expect to be happy & as life progresses we expect to be more happy & more fulfilled. Right? We all know that the world doesn´t exactly work that way. Being at peace today will make for a better tomorrow. Now, don´t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, in fact I strongly encourage it, the problem is when we expect happiness to be our status quo. Suffering has a purpose, it´s a human-refining process. The more we accept it & view it as something necessary in our lives, ironically the less painful it will become. Now, by no means I´m saying it is easy.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”- John 16:33
I´m a firm believer that joy is the key to life (joy as opposed to happiness, which disregards circumstance.) But troubles & heartaches are non-negotiable, even though we do the impossible to steer clear of them, the fact is we can´t get rid of them all together. Our job is to make the best out of them & work to minimize their negative effect. Our human minds refuse to think of them as a natural part of life. We tend to think that we don´t deserve them & that life is unjust & unfair when they appear in our lives (for the record, yes life is unfair) and therefore, we deserve only what is wonderful in the world. News Flash: No, we don´t. If God himself suffered hardships, who are we not to. What type of crowns do we have in our heads?
God knows I´m not a sourpuss. All I´m saying is that when we stop expecting that all should be well all the time & when we stop viewing problems as a nuisance, everything good that comes along our way will become a gift. We´ll experience those moments with a bigger appreciation & enjoyment. It´s a simple yet underrated logic. Like when you receive a gift from someone you don´t expect when you least expect it…elation is the word that comes to mind.
When we learn to accept people as they are, not as we would like them to be, we set ourselves free & thus become more capable of loving them. I believe that the only person we should try to exceed expectations is to ourselves. Why? because we are much gentler to ourselves – given our ever-rationalizing mind – than we are to others, specially when we are not able to meet our expectations. When we learn to accept what we cannot change, we come to be at peace, as opposed to always expecting things will be better in the future. For if we want our future to be better, we have to work in our today.
“Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be…someday. Show me how you can risk being completely at peace, truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment…”– Oriah