I recently wrote a review on the book UnFu*k Yourself where one of the authors rules for life was “I expect nothing; I accept everything”. As you think about this for a while it begins to make sense. Expecting things to turn out a certain way or for people to act a certain way is the road to disappointment. To start out with it takes you away from the present and instead you are living with expectations of the future. Let’s take a few examples:
- While I’m driving I expect people to follow traffic laws. Little things like stop signs, traffic lights, speed limits, etc. Now this is one hell of a stupid expectation. When humans get behind the wheel of a car they turn into complete morons.
- I expect that I will be recognized for my work at my place of business. Occasionally this happens, but never enough to live up to our expectations.
- I expect that my significant other will appreciate the things I do for them. So what is it that they must do to live up to these expectations?
- I expect that my children will be as motivated and driven as I am. That’s a real crock of shit.
- I expect that my government will spend my tax money smartly and not build up trillions of dollars in debt. How silly is that?
- I have expectations for myself surrounding being constantly happy or healthy. Set the bar high my friend and disappointment will find you.
These are just a few examples of how we all live with expectations that are literally sucking the fun out of life. There is no better way to mess up living in the present than by having all these stupid expectations. I’m not advocating that you don’t have dreams or goals, but be aware that if these are laden down with heaps of expectations you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Things rarely turn out the way you expect, often things turn out much better or much worse. You have so little control about how things will turn out, or what someone thinks of you, and planning on how things will turn out is a risky proposition. Do the best you can but don’t be so definitive about the outcome.
So what is the cure for this never ending life of expectations? I’m guessing if you read Gary Bishop’s book you know the answer. One little, but powerful word Acceptance is all you need to understand. By accepting things as they are, you are taking a big step towards living in the present. Give yourself a fucking break; you can often be accepting of others, but you can’t cut yourself some slack. If you can start living with a mindset of accepting life as it is, you will begin to really enjoy what you have and maybe even the things you do. Here are a couple of different ways to look at acceptance:
You don’t need to throw away all your dreams or vision for the future, but don’t get so specific that you put yourself in a corner when things don’t turn out exactly as you expected. Throwing out those silly expectations leaves you open to a whole new perspective and to enjoy how things unfold. All of this can provide amazing levels of joy instead of comparing what happens to your expectations.
I will leave you with one other quote from Gary Bishop that really resonated with me.
“Plan for victory and learn from your defeats.”
Here are a few quotes on acceptance to ponder.
Happiness can exist only in acceptance. George Orwell
The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. Brian Tracy
The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. Nathaniel Branden
My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. Michael J. Fox
Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness. Eckhart Tolle