"It's not about what you have or even the season
of life that you are in, but it's about your mindset."
As a girl, I remember having a kind of impression that life should line up with my expectations. I brought that viewpoint into my young adulthood. I wanted something to look a certain way and be certain way. And when things didn't turn out as I expected, I was not best pleased. In fact, sometimes I was just plain offended and peevish about it. As if life owed me. As if people owed me. Perhaps we're born with that expectation. We've probably all wailed at one time or another, 'But it's not fair!'—the universal response to someone expecting a different outcome. Of course, it didn’t help if I didn’t voice what I wanted. And as a timid young person I was good at not saying what I wanted, but that’s a different story for another day.
I came to realize that I had expectations of other people and I certainly felt people expecting something from me. Sometimes I was okay with that, sometimes I felt put upon, especially when it was expected of me to be involved in something I had no interest in. Still I saw it as the give and take in life. I eventually came to see that everyone has to live their own life, and it wasn't my place to put my expectations on others, as if they owed me happiness. That goes both ways.
Of course we can and should expect certain standards, but when the coffee at the bistro isn't absolutely delicious one day, and when I do need sunshine instead of rain to brighten my current mood, and yes, it would be so much nicer to always rub shoulders with courteous, kinder folk—when it didn't happen, how did I learn to keep disappointment from disturbing my inner sense of tranquility?
The game changer for me was learning to hold my own expectations loosely. It was also learning to hold loosely the expectations other folks had for me. So what does holding one's expectations loosely mean exactly? I like the way one online article said that holding expectations loosely doesn't mean giving them up altogether, but rather it's "letting go of urgency, rigidity, and the need for things to be 'just so' ". Oh yes, I recognize that impulse to want things to be ‘just so’. It doesn't matter how amiable and easygoing we are, we still have certain expectations. We go out for a special meal, of course we hope the ambiance will be just right, for the meal to be extraordinaire, and for our dining partners to be in fine form conversationally. We want that something special on our holidays, our anniversaries, birthdays, and Christmas. Not to mention that we want it in all the little daily goings on in between.
I came to see that basing my happiness on imperfect circumstances and shifting moods of other people is a guarantee for disappointment. As I loosened my tight grip on my expectations of how things should be and look and feel, not be so rigid with the need for them to be 'just so'—then even in the middle of bad hair days and monthly moodiness, I was able to keep more tranquil within.
I began to search for the good 'in the midst'. I began to seek the beauty around the ugly stuff. I asked for the grace to wake in the mornings with vitality and good humour. Someone shared this quote recently from Anne Lamott. It seems to be a good way to sum up:
"Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns."Reading between the lines, I think it also means holding expectations more loosely and easily. Another aspect of how we can live our lives more beautifully.
Wishing you grace for the day,
Top Image by Peter H from Pixabay