Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Joy of Zero Expectations

"I have spent much of my life being distracted by what could be." ~ Clarice Bryan

Want to find happiness right now? Clear your mind for a minute and then repeat after me: “expect nothing.”

So much of our society is tied up in things that haven’t happened yet. We obsess on what we want to happen, what we think should happen, what we are convinced is going to happen. We tell ourselves that a move to a new town is going to change our lives for the better. We leave one job for another, sure that we'll finally be able to get the appreciation we deserve. We get that second degree, convinced that it will open more doors on the job front.

So what happens when we make that move to a new town and our lives don’t change? When we get to the new job and discover that this new boss is just as horrid as the former one? When we graduate with degree in hand and discover there are no jobs to be had?

We feel disappointment (at the least) or become severely depressed (at the most). We are convinced that life is unfair and we will never be able to get anywhere. We had so many hopes and expectations… and they were dashed. Put simply, we are unhappy because what we thought was going to happen, didn’t happen.

The truth is, we don’t know what’s around the corner. So what would happen if we were to become a feather in the wind and just go where the wind blows? Move into that new town, or job, or situation with absolutely no expectations whatsoever… good or bad? To plunge headfirst into the situation just to experience it, rather than tie our hope for the future on it? What if we tried to live more in the moment rather than in the days ahead?

I realize this is more than just a simple switch. It’s not easy to give up a lifetime of worrying and obsessing about the future, especially in our society, where we’ve all been taught that we are entitled to the “American Dream.” Aren’t we supposed to get that great job, home, partner, car, etc…?

It’s good to have goals. It’s good to strive and work hard for those things. But it can become a problem when we start putting inordinate pressure on ourselves and start to become disappointed (or depressed). Why don’t I have that job/home/partner/car yet? What is wrong with me? Why isn’t my life turning out the way it was supposed to? Life sucks!

If those internal dialogues sound familiar, it might be worth it to start trying to clear your mind of expectations. We are all entitled to happiness. And we can find it in the simplest things if we lift the veil of expectation.

Just something to think about.

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