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What to expect when you are not expecting

Waiting in anticipation...
Waiting in anticipation...

Waiting in anticipation…

Life often falls short of our expectations and as a result we are unhappy. When we set our minds on a certain outcome we are setting ourselves up for failure.  Every Saturday

I go out for lunch with me best gal pal; the one day of the week I get to feed my craving with a delectable warm fudge brownie topped with ice cream. So naturally I look forward to and expect to feed my sweet tooth while indulging in sweet company; hence I start waiting in anticipation for the day to come.  Here’s whats wrong: I am attaching unrealistic satisfaction with this event.  What happens when she or I cancel, if the food is not tasty, they are out of brownies, or she and I have an argument during the meal? There are so many variables I am hoping and praying go in my favor that my expectation for satisfaction is left to the mercy of unforeseen and uncontrollable variables.

Looking forward to something is good, healthy even, but it is when we start attaching expectations to those events that it becomrs problematic and not so healthy. If I simply looked forward to my weekly lunch date and had no expectation, I would not be attaching any emotion to event. I would simply be waiting for a date I will share lunch with that person; the moment I add expectation I start looking forward to the good company and the good food.

Adding expectation adds subjectivity to the event we are looking forward to.  Doing a cardiovascular workout for 20 minutes a day makes me feel more positive, more energetic and more agile. I have had this experience time and time again so I have started expecting to get this boost everytime I do cardio. But what happens when I can’t exercise or when I don’t get this boost from doing cardio? I will get disappointed because I have set a certain expectation that if I do this I will get that. If I simply look forward to exercising I would not necessarily get disappointed as I am not focused on the benefits I will be receiving.

These days meditation has become the new exercise fad. Everyone is talking about it and everyone either does it or wants to do it.  We hear of the benefits of meditation and expect that we will receive those same resilts.  Once we start expecting we begin focusing on the outcome rather than the meditation itself.  First, the results from meditation are individual and second and more importantly, focusing on the outcome  takes away from the results we are trying to achieve.  Expectation gets in the way of experience.  If you are so focused on the results you will miss the journey that brings you the results.  Moreover, if we do not get our anticipated results our spirits flounder.

When we focus on the expectation of the future, we miss the turn that leads to the present

When we focus on the expectation of the future, we miss the turn that leads to the present

Once we learn how to subtact expectation from looking forward to events we can be in control of our own happininess, mood, peace that much more.  We will learn how to appreciate the journey, we will allow ouselves to enjoy the experience, and we will be happier when we do get the results.  Looking forward to something rather than expecting it spares us the possible and probable negative emotion we will inflict on ourselves.

When you allow yourself to expect something you are setting a standard that you believe will be met, if it is not met there is a disappointment that naturally arises.  As our bodies experience disappointment we undergoe psychosomatic changes that may promote aches, immune dysfunctionality, and  decreased activity.  Disappointment can be externalized as when we get angry at others for falling short of our expectation or internalized, as when we become frusterated with ourselves for not performing up to par. In both cases we are allowing external stimuli to create agitation within our bodies.  When a student expects to get the A he is already setting that benchmark, when he looks forward to it he will study hard to achieve it.  When a kid conveys sickness they expect to be excused from physical chores, when they are given other responsibilities they may become disappointed.  When a child expects an after school snack to be ready for him, he will be displeased when it is not there.

Trying to lower our expectations in life will make for a more stress- free life.  Expectations lead to unnecessary disappointment which it turn propogates negative emotions such as anger, frusteration, and sadness.


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