The Cure for Expectations

house_sitting_expectations

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:

Acceptance-1Acceptance 2

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

Namaste

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What are you waiting for?

 

Wating Game

Like most of us I have deferred doing many things in my life. I tell myself maybe it’s not the right time, not just yet. I tell myself maybe it is too risky or beyond my abilities. I tell myself that it is too expensive or I just don’t have time for it. Unfortunately I have lied to myself and time marches on with me no closer to my dreams.

I tell myself there is lots of time to do that which I long to do in the future. I have focused my thoughts and desires to be something I will attain in the future. My mind does not live in the present it only focuses on the future. I make investments in myself, in others, sometimes financially or physically so that I will have a better future, or so I think. The irony is, there really is no guarantee of the future. The future has yet to happen and it is a figment of my imagination.

Ask yourself is there something you want to do? Maybe you would like to write a book, travel somewhere, have a relationship with someone, start a business, purchase a new home, or find a way to give something back to the world.

What are you waiting for?

 

With no guarantee of the future, all of this waiting for the right time to begin to live the life you want is simply wrong. You don’t know how much time you have left on this earth, so why wait? Here are some examples of deferring to the future:

  • I’ll start that business or buy that thing when I have more than enough money saved, maybe 4 or 5 years from now. Are you really going to wait 4 or 5 years for something you really want to do? Are there no other options?
  • I will stop that addiction (smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling) sometime in the future when the time is just right. Have you noticed the time is never quite right? Will you be better off deferring being free from the addictions that are dragging you down?
  • I don’t have time to work on that book I always wanted to write. I have far to many responsibilities to attend to. If you had all the time in the world what other excuse would you use? Have you ever thought that you have never prioritized your writing over all the other bullshit you think needs to be done?
  • I really would like a better relationship with my significant other, children, siblings, parents, friends, but I’m too busy to call or spend time with them. Do you really want to go to your grave not being present for the people you love?

These are yet a few examples from my own life that plague me; I’m sure you can come up with your own list.

Quit imagining that you have all the time in the world to do the things you want to do, because you don’t. Make at least some effort to prioritize what is important to you and do it. If that means you have to be a little selfish then so be it. Look at your habits and decide do I really need to sit there every night and watch 2 hours of television.

Decide right now that the future is an illusion; begin living in the present and start doing the things you want to do and I mean now!

Stop taking for granted all the wonderful things that are happening around you understanding that tomorrow they become a thing of the past. You cannot wait for something to happen to experience fulfillment, happiness, and joy in your life; decide that the time is now.

happiness-is-now

These things that you want to do or have, may or may not bring the satisfaction you think they will in your life, but by not acting on your desires you will never know.

As human beings we attempt to live our lives in the past, present, and future. We often work in soul crushing jobs so that we can enjoy two or three weeks off. Are you actually working yourself to death for a couple weeks off? You can have a life more fulfilling that that; you were not created to simply settle.

It’s fine to think about what you want to become or have, but don’t stop by just dreaming about it; you must act and you must live in the now.

Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deferring Happiness

happiness-is-now

I’ve written about various ways to foster more happiness in your life including yoga, meditation, expressing gratitude, and caring for your physical health. All of these things are wonderful ways to be more happy, but we still are not as happy as we could be. Most of us are trapped in thinking that happiness is something we defer until we retire, buy that new house, find a better job, create our own business, have a more fulfilling relationship with our significant other, or any other number of things we feel will make us happy.

Unfortunately this deferring of happiness based on some future event is robbing us of it in the present. I’m not advocating that you abandon your dreams or stop pursuing your goals, but thinking that these things will make you happier is a fallacy. Don’t let the things you want in the future delay the opportunity to be happy today. Each moment that you impose these walls around yourself that are blocking you from being happy in the now are time wasted. That expensive new car, home, or pile of money will only provide temporary happiness; find a way to enjoy today for that is all you are guaranteed. No one is assured of tomorrow, no matter what your age or health. How many years will you have wasted waiting for happiness? If I only had more money, a better job, a more attractive spouse, a bigger house, I could be truly happy. This self deception is stealing away the days, leaving you less available to those around you. Pursue your goals, but make it your purpose to be happy during the journey not the manifestation of these things.

“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Hear

Namaste

Maybe Tomorrow

You may think I don’t need to let my family know I love them, it can wait, they know how I feel and after all they aren’t going anywhere. Maybe I can spend time with my children later, some other day, after all there is always tomorrow. I don’t need to pursue my own desires and dreams because there is always time for that later. I don’t have time for all that crap, there is work to do, projects to complete and money to be made. You have become the machine that completes tasks, achieves goals, accumulates wealth, but you live in some alternate world where you leave the most important things for tomorrow. So what is important to you and can you really wait until tomorrow? I recall a quote by Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

As time passes by do you want to spend your time working on projects, completing tasks, making more money, or do you want those most important to you to never forget how you made them feel? When most of us are asked what we think is most important we usually say our family, health, friends, and personal development, but the reality of our lives is often much different. You may justify that what you do for your employer or business is for your family, and I’m sure to some degree that is true, but the fact remains that you defer what is most important to tomorrow.  We are ever changing and aging, once the picture of health, maybe not so much anymore. Those important people in your life that get so little attention will not be here forever, maybe not even tomorrow. Live in the moment, reach out to your family and friends. Ask yourself will the world crumble if I don’t get that project done, task, or make more money for myself or my employer?

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get my priorities in order, maybe tomorrow I’ll show my family and friends how much I care by giving them at least the same attention I devote to making a living. Forget about tomorrow, start anew today and I mean now! Create good karma now, and you will always be remembered for how you made them feel.

good karma

Namaste

What Lou Holtz said

Lou Holtz

A couple of days ago I posted the following quote on Twitter and here on my quotes page “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”  Lou Holtz

I remember earlier in the week when my wife called me and said that she thinks we have problems with our home’s foundation. There were tiles cracking in the kitchen, grout coming up, some cracks in the walls, and it appeared that some of the floors were not level. When I heard this I immediately overreacted whining about how much this would cost me, and what a piece of crap this old house of ours was. We had invested lots of money in air conditioning, pest control, and insulation; all things you cannot see but needed to be done. So clearly I had reacted very poorly, and to  prove this out a day later when the house was inspected we found that nothing was wrong. We live in Texas and it is common for some of these things to happen, and we were told to keep the ground around the foundation wet with a soak-er hose three days a week for 40-60 minutes during the summer months. I guess it is a Texas thing where the moisture seems to help maintain the integrity of the foundation preventing the ground from cracking and shifting here from the severe heat.

Not only had I reacted like a dumb ass, but my reaction was premature occurring before the inspection even took place. This is probably why I liked this quote from Lout Holtz so much. A persons true character is not something you exhibit when everything is going your way, but instead it is revealed when things are not going your way. I learned a lesson this week that it is how you respond to life that is most important. None of us can escape pain, misfortune, disappointments, and many of the other unpleasant things life has in store, but we can all control how we respond to these challenges.

It is extremely important that you have a cautious response when it comes to perceived bad news. Moving into a negative mind state where you imagine the worst only damages your peace of mind and sends a message to others that you are not a real leader. So the choice is always clear you can respond in a negative fashion or you can respond as a leader and make the best of the situation. Now my example pales in significance to the challenges some people face, but it does illustrate a point.

Don’t imagine the worst and think about the example you set for those around you. In addition to how your response affects others is the fact that a negative response only causes personal psychological damage tainting all your thoughts. Lou was right, it is about how you respond that matters.

Sitting on the mat

I was sitting on the yoga mat today meditating as is my custom in the morning after my yoga practice, and I had a couple of thoughts. Like so many of you I find myself thinking about my next conquest, role, position, material thing, or maybe just what lies ahead that day. I always try to turn off the noise when I meditate, either by forcing a thought pattern that will override all these future oriented thoughts, or sometimes I just try to sit and listen. I’m getting to be about 75% sucessful at this most days, but it’s not yet perfect. If you cannot just sit and listen to the sounds around you and drown out the chatter in your mind then you might try focusing your mind on the following themes:

  • Now – Think about now just sitting on your mat, tell yourself there is only this moment. You might repeat the phrase “live in the moment, now is all we have” or something like that.
  • Compassion – You may also consider just thinking about compassion. You might say to yourself “I will be compassionate with everyone I encounter today”.  In addition to this you might say to yourself “I will seek to understand and not judge”. Again use your own words, just focus on the theme of compassion and the words will come.
  • Grateful – A third method I use is to just spend some time reciting a running list of what you are grateful for.  This might include your family, spouse or significant other, children, friends, pets, dwelling, your work, your health, or anything else that you are grateful for.

Often I use all three themes during meditation. When it is all working you feel in the moment and you are enjoying just sitting there. You may find that this is one of the most wonderful moments in your day, when you are really present and not working towards something or for someone else. You will also find that sitting on the mat as I call it prepares you for the challenges of the modern world, making it all a bit more easy to be mindful during whatever chaos comes your way.

Namaste