"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 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!' It's the universal response to someone expecting a different outcome. Of course, it didn’t help when I didn’t voice what I wanted. As a timid young person I was good at not saying what I wanted, but that’s a different story for another day.
I realized 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 I was expected 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. It goes both ways.
Of course we can and should have expectations and standards. But when it doesn't measure up, when the coffee at the bistro isn't absolutely delicious one day, when someone has let me down—when it doesn't happen, how can I keep that disappointment from ruining my day and robbing me of my inner sense of tranquility?
The game changer for me was when I learned to hold my own expectations loosely. And learning to hold loosely the expectations other folks had for me. So what does holding one's expectations loosely mean exactly? One article I read put it this way: 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 my, now I get it - 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 want the ambiance to 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 vacations, our anniversaries, birthdays, and special celebrations like Christmas. Not to mention that we want it in the daily goings on in between.
I finally saw that basing my happiness on imperfect circumstances and shifting moods of other people is a guarantee for disappointment. When I loosened my tight grip on my expectations of how things should be or look or feel, I became more tranquil within. I began searching for the good 'in the midst'. I began focusing on the beauty, not the ugly stuff. I asked for the grace to wake in the mornings with vitality and good humour. This quote from Anne Lamott 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."
Just letting it be there until some light returns. Another clue of how to live our lives more beautifully.
Wishing you grace for the day,
Photo Credit: Image by Tama66 from Pixabay