Wouldn’t it be easier if there were some magic words we could utter to make our lives easier?
They may not be magical, but there are some ‘words’ that will greatly enhance your life once used. These are the Golden Rules of Life and they can be applied to almost any situation in life.
One day, I was sitting at my desk, feeling hurt and down. I had found myself in similar situations many times before. Why was it that I kept getting hurt the same way, time after time? Obviously, there must have been something I was refusing to learn. Surely there is a limit to how many times a human being can get hurt! So why wasn’t I learning? What wasn’t I learning?…
Then it dawned on me.
I was getting hurt because things weren’t going the way I wanted them to go. There must have been things that I, subconsciously, expected from the other person. Yes, that was it! Expectations!
Then I saw the true potential of this realisation. It wasn’t just true for my silly love life. It actually applied to every aspect of everyone’s lives.
We expect a lot of things from people and life. When we have expectations, we end up hoping for things to happen the way we want them to. This binds us to the outcome of an event that we have already simulated in our minds, according to our expectations. The more we expect, the more we are prone to getting disappointed, or hurt.
We are so used to having expectations that, most of the time, we are not even aware of it.
The Expectation Train
For example, a wife is waiting for her husband to come home for dinner. It’s their anniversary and she knows that he always gets her flowers.
She starts planning a nice dinner for their anniversary, and puts an empty vase on the table for the flowers. As she is preparing dinner, she is already imagining how things will turn out: a warm hug and a kiss at the door, nicely chosen flowers, hearing “Happy anniversary!” from the husband… Then having a romantic dinner in candle light… oh yes, the candles! Must not forget the candles!
By the time the husband arrives, the wife is already in a happy, expectant mood. Everything already happened in her head.
The wife opens the door with a big smile on her face. She leans in for a hug, but the husband completely ignores it as he is busy searching his bag. *POOF* There goes one of her expectations: the warm hug at the door.
She thinks “Ok… there are still many more nice things to come…” and leans for a kiss. The husband gently pushes her away saying “My breath probably stinks, I had garlic bread for lunch.” *POOF* There goes another expectation: the kiss at the door.
She shrugs it off and decides to think it’s considerate of him. She gives him a kiss on the cheek instead. The husband walks in – hang on! Something is missing! Where are the flowers he was supposed to get me? *POOF* He always gets me flowers! He never forgets our anniversary! Is he planning a surprise? (<– potential for another expectation springing up)
He goes in, puts his bag down and asks “What’s for dinner?” *POOF* No flowers? *POOF* Nothing romantic? *POOF* But I had candles! There is an empty vase on the table! Does he even know it’s our anniversary??..
By this time, the wife is in a state of shock with all her expectations turning into disappointment, one by one. She is also getting angry because of all the things the husband hasn’t done: all those things that had otherwise already happened in her head.
“Honey? I asked what’s for dinner?” repeats the husband gently, thinking she didn’t hear him the first time.
The rest of the expectations fly right out the window as she flips: “Go shove the dinner up your ****, you’re sleeping on the couch tonight!”
This is a simple example of how we build up expectations on top of expectations, even without realising it.
This applies to every aspect of life: your expectations about your grades, life after university, the replies from the job applications, your future, the people, your work, yourself…
We think, think, think… and want, want, want… and expect, expect, expect… We then believe our expectations. We hope they will come true. We imagine them coming true.
Therefore we get disappointed, hurt, dissatisfied or angry when they don’t.
What happens if we take expectations out of the equation?
What happens when we are just simply observing and enjoying life? What happens when we are not hoping for events to turn out in a certain way?
A great potential for true happiness.
Having no expectations means being content with your life and everything that’s going on around you. It means that you are neutral to any outcome, that you are not bound to any particular result. It means your happiness doesn’t depend on things happening in a certain way, or people acting in a certain manner. It grants you immunity from disappointments when things don’t go the way you wanted.
More importantly, it gives you immunity from yourself.
It’s not just others we expect things from. Most of the time, it is ourselves who end up disappointing us. We expect to be good, we expect to be better. We know we can do it. We want to be able to do it.
And if we can’t? We end up getting angry at ourselves. We bring ourselves down. We are often too harsh at that, as well.
“Gosh, I’m so stupid! Why didn’t I see that coming?… I should have known better… I could have done this… I should not have done that!…”
So, it’s not people that bring us down. It’s not the events that happened. It’s us and our expectations of them.
Expectations bring with them a potential for disappointment and pain. Take them out of your life and you remove all that potential.
Now, doesn’t that sound like a recipe to happiness?