Our experiences in life and the decisions we make all come after we form expectations in our mind that reveal how we think everything will play out.
Often times, we do this subconsciously and without realization. Thoughts of what could and should happen rush to our head and control our point of view.
Unfortunately, when things don’t go the way we want, it can backfire and lead to disappointment, no matter what the actual outcome is.
Below is an excerpt from a Calm guided meditation that speaks to the importance of tempering expectations, and instead, focusing on a sense of openness.
“Throughout this life, it’s natural to have certain expectations.
When we have an important meeting at a bank, we expect our business partner to arrive on time. When we leave a close friend an urgent voicemail, we expect a call back. This is reasonable, right?
But a problem arises when we form an attachment to a specific outcome.
Imagine you’re boarding a bus and the driver tells you it will be a one-hour trip. So, when there’s a long delay, and the trip takes two hours, you might get restless, annoyed or angry. Conversely, when a three-hour trip is cut short due to light traffic, and you arrive after only two hours on the road, you might feel relieved or even delighted.
In both scenarios, you’re on the bus for two hours, but in each case, your experience is very different because of the expectations heading in. Ideally, we hold expectations as a compass that points the way, but not as a map that dictates every step of our journey. It’s healthy to have an idea of where we’re headed, but when we exhibit mindfulness, we learn not to form rigid expectations of what our experience will be on this path. We want to meet whatever we encounter with openness and not compare it to what we expected to find.”
The bus scenario puts into perspective the power of perception. When we perceive something to go a certain way, we form an expectation. This expectation, unfortunately, often determines whether or not we’re satisfied with the actual result.
Therefore, it’s important to “let life happen.” As hard as it might be to not look ahead or expect something to go a certain way, the benefits to refraining from this are worthwhile.
If you allow for circumstances to change, you will handle the adversity in a more efficient manner. If the two-hour bus ride takes three hours, you won’t be irritated and out of sorts. You will be open to the updated timeline and understanding of the new result.
Avoid the attachment that expectations bring and allow your mind to welcome acceptance.
In broader terms of life, if you choose to expect anything, expect positive results. Expect greatness. Put positive energy out into the world.
As Norman Vincent Peale says, “we tend to get what we expect.” We are able to manifest what we want. If you don’t expect something to go well, it makes it that much more unlikely.
However, if the result isn’t what you expected, practice displaying emotions that are filled with understanding and continue to expect what you want.
This is a fine line. As stated earlier in this post, having minimal expectations is the way to go, allowing you to easily roll with the punches. However, this isn’t always completely realistic. Humans will always make assumptions and expect things prior to events, whether they realize it or not. It’s done almost subconsciously.
Getting into the habit of practicing a zero expectations policy is beneficial. But at the very least, if your thoughts don’t subside and you begin to think about how something will turn out, make it positive.
Life seems to reward people who possess a positive attitude and mindset. Expecting the worst might lead you to actions that will give you just that – the worst.
There’s a saying that goes, “expect the worst, hope for the best.” Instead, it should read, “expect the best, hope for the best.”
There’s no sense in expecting the worst. And if you continually do it, you will form a habit that has you stuck in a negative reality.
The Wrap Up
Be careful with expectations. Try to prevent against making them in most situations, but when you do, make them positive and ambitious. And when it doesn’t happen, trust that it didn’t happen for a good reason and continue down the same road.
If you believe that things happen for a reason, and that timing is everything, it’ll make it easier to swallow when something doesn’t go the way you had hoped.
But if you choose to expect the worst instead, you will attract poor outcomes. Negativity will surround you and it’ll make it tougher for you to achieve your desired results.
So, if you can’t be positive about it, then hold back on all expectations. Let life happen.
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” – Alexander Pope