How Expectations Are Hurting Your Life

You have a beautiful strawberry in front of you. Bright red, perfectly shaped, bright green leaves.

You pick it up, place it in your mouth and begin to taste it.  Having eaten 1000 strawberries before, you already "know" how it tastes. 

This particular strawberry is not quite as sweet as you had hoped so you purse your face and swallow it, disappointed. OR it is exactly as sweet and juicy as you had expected it to taste and you simply swallow it and go about your day.

On one hand, you are disappointed that the strawberry didn't taste how you thought it should, and on the other hand you are bored because it met your expectations. 

Now consider this- You have never tasted a strawberry before. You have absolutely no expectations of it. You are curious.

You bite into it and pay close attention to how it tastes and feels. It has firm skin, a mushy center, you can feel the little seeds on your tongue, it's sweet, it's tangy, etc. You are pleasantly surprised, thrilled, curious. 

This is a mind free of expectations, or a "beginner's mind".

The strawberry can be representative of anything in life- any person, any relationship, task, experience, meal, job, thought, any interaction, any moment in life. 

For example:

You start a new routine. You think it's going to be exciting, you'll be really good at it and it will change your life. Turns out, you aren't good at it and it actually isn't as fun as you thought it would be. You're disappointed, you lose motivation, you give up. You have lost the opportunity to learn something, surprise yourself, etc. If you instead approach this new thing with an open mind, you will find something in it that is valuable- maybe a lesson, maybe something you didn't know about yourself, or maybe you go on to master it. 

You are frustrated at your partner because you don't feel like they are giving you the affection you want and therefore your relationship isn't meeting the romantic expectations you had set. You become resentful, maybe irritable, and you find yourself unhappy and fighting with your partner more than ever before.  You are suffering because your partner is not acting according to your ideal. Instead, you can put the ideal aside and accept the person for who they. They act "imperfectly",  just as you probably do in some ways through their eyes. It is better to pay close attention to the ways that they show their affection, in their own ways, and appreciate these moments. Learn to see the way your partner shows their love for you, in a totally different way than you show your love for them. 

Say you are a nurse at a hospital. You go to work and do the same tasks over and over. You've done them so many times, you can do them with your eyes closed. Your job is boring, your life feels like it is on repeat and you are miserable. Your expectations of work is that it is going to be boring and miserable. Instead, go to work each day with no ideas in mind about how your day will do. Experience each patient with a curiosity, learn something about them, have some wonder about where they are coming from or where they are going or just think about how being around them makes you feel. How much better would every day be if we approached even the most mundane or repeated tasks with this kind of curiosity and awareness? 

Or maybe we just feels like life is on "repeat" and you are less than excited about getting up in the morning. Try experiencing every moment with awareness. How does your body feel? How does this sandwich taste? Notice how the sun is filtering through the trees or how the cool air feels on your face. Breathe deeply. Be happy to be alive. Really taste your coffee. 

Some more examples....

Something didn't go as planned
Our relationship wasn't what we thought it would be
Dinner with an old friend wasn't as exciting as you thought it would be
The vacation wasn't as romantic as we had hoped
Dinner wasn't what we felt as "worth the money"
At our current age, we aren't quite where we thought we would be
You don't feel as excited as you thought you would about your new house

If we approach any of these with expectations, we will more often than not find ourselves disappointed, frustrated, bland, boring. We will forget about it and move onto the next in such a way that life becomes just a boring, frustrating series of events. 

If we would only approach everything with an open mind and heart, a curiosity, free of expectations; if we could only see things as they really are and not what we know or want them to be- imagine how different your life and your outlook would be. 

Every person and moment would be something to be discovered and to learn from. When we approach things free of expectations, we become more aware of how it makes us feel, what it really looks, feels and tastes like. And that can never be repeated because in every moment we are changing. 

Just be IN the moment and you will find beauty you never thought was there. Really appreciate it and experience it like you never have before. 

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