“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” ~ John Lennon
The theme at the BeZine this month is Hope: Great Expectations and Secret Desires. I had plans for this post to be something extra special and was hoping to impart some hard-learned wisdom about the nature of expectations and desires. But…I’ve started and stopped, edited and deleted so many times now that I’m just going to try and keep it short and to the point. I’m not succinct by nature, and I don’t know if I ever will be. I can practice and aspire to it, but perhaps wordiness is just a part of who I am. 🙂
In Zen practices, we learn that Attachment is the root of all suffering, and expectations and desires come from what’s called the “wanting mind”. The “wanting mind” is part of our Ego, so it’s extra clever at making us attached to things of this world (including people). Expectations and desires are ways of being ‘attached’ to a certain outcome. You are better off trying to let them go, since no one can control the future…Life is what happens, remember?
I don’t think that most people are even aware of their own expectations until they become disappointed by them, and even then, many won’t realize that the reason they are disappointed is because of expectations – they will instead seek someone or something else to blame. So, awareness of your own expectations (whether they are self-expectations or expectations of other people) is the first, crucial step in letting them go.
Both expectations and desires are natural, human qualities. They’re normal, they happen, even when you try hard to get rid of them. The main bad thing about expectations is that you set yourself up to be disappointed, because you don’t appreciate the present moment – you are partially in the future, trying to predict or control an outcome of something (or someone). Being present in the moment allows you to accept life as it is, as it unfolds…”Life on Life’s terms”, so to speak; no stress or worry, no anxiety about what you want or wish it to be, but simple acceptance of what it is.
If I could choose one thing for you to take away from this post, it would be to work on becoming more aware of and recognizing your own expectations and desires, and then let them go. You might write them all down on slips of paper and then burn them, releasing them in the process, or practice breathing in acceptance of things as they are, right now, and breathing out attachment to what you want it to be, letting it exit your body so that your mind may be clearer. It takes practice, but you will be happier and calmer for doing it.
I’ll leave you with a thought-provoking and common sense video regarding happiness and expectations. I’ll go so far as to say that I expect you might even enjoy it. 😉