Expectations

Posted on August 1, 2012

I’ve been listening to the book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, right now and it really got me thinking about our expectations in life.

The author was talking about a study of the happiest countries and Denmark came up the happiest. Why, you may ask, is Denmark the happiest country? Well, the study said it was because they don’t expect as much as other countries. If you don’t expect anything then you can’t be disappointed.

I’ll admit, this depressed me at first to think about. Not just lowering your expectations, but completely throwing them out the window all together, blew my mind. How can I throw out all expectations for my life? My dreams, all my goals, everything I’ve ever worked so hard for…just throw them out the window?

But then the author started talking about consumerism and advertising messages we get bombarded with God only knows how many times a day! Every single advertising message carries with it an expectation. What we should expect if we buy that product or do what they say. This really got me thinking about an article I read recently in The Atlantic about diamonds, and how a Madison Avenue advertiser is responsible for all of the expectations that  surround diamonds and engagement rings. As a woman, it is a well-known fact that a man should spend a couple months worth of his salary to get you the biggest diamond possible when he asks for your hand in marriage. As a man, you know that others will be judging you on the size of the diamond on your lover’s hand. As disgusting as it is to me to be influenced by advertisers so much, I must admit that I still have that expectation for a nice engagement ring.

So, how do I break these expectations, especially without lowering my standards for life?

My epiphany today came when I realized that you can’t have expectations from stuff outside of your control. I can still expect myself to perform to the best of my ability, constantly challenge myself, and always see the bright side of life. Notice a theme? My. Myself. Me. I. That’s the only thing in the whole world you should ever have expectations from- yourself! Not religion. Not your spouse. Not material possessions.

It’s hard to differentiate between an expectation for something external and internal though. If I expect to come home and relax outside with a book, is that having an expectation that the weather will be nice? Which is obviously out of my control. My conclusion is that if you can start pin-pointing where your expectation lies, it will be easier to not only forgive those external forces for letting you down, but also be able to eliminate any expectations before you’re let down.

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