"Expect nothing and watch how quickly your happiness blooms." -KR
The quote above is from yours truly! It took me a very, very long time to realize that certain expectations can lead to severe unhappiness! However, this post is not about lowering expectations, but rather realizing if certain expectations are actually realistic.
A perfect example happened this past Christmas. Let me preface this story by saying that I LOVE Christmas. Gary, on the other hand, is not as enthusiastic about Christmas as I am. While it would probably be fun if he was a Christmas-fanatic like myself, I understand his reasoning behind it: he thinks all the hype of presents and decorations and Santa take away from the real meaning behind Christmas. And I 100% agree with him that it does. But my inner child chooses to deny that and instead get super excited about baking cookies and putting up the Christmas tree. Nothing wrong with a little fun, right?
So what does this have to do with expectations? Well, this past Christmas Eve, Gary had to work for most of the day and I was off. Therefore, I decided I would try to make our Christmas Eve really special by cooking a fancy dinner and planning a night full of fun Christmas activities: baking cookies, cozy-ing up by the fire, and watching The Christmas Story. Hey, if I came home from work to that, I would be ecstatic!
See, my expectation was for him to really enjoy and appreciate all of the effort that I put forth to make the night special. Yet, when he got home he seemed distant and quiet. When my expectation did not meet reality I became offended. I assumed that he did not appreciate what I did, thus causing me to become upset. What I failed to realize then was that he did appreciate everything that I prepared. However, he had a stressful day at work and like I mentioned earlier, not the type to get super excited about Christmas activities.
What I have learned from this Christmas Eve example is that creating expectations can inhibit us from being happy. Since then, if I ever feel myself becoming irritated or upset with someone for either doing something or failing to do something, I will take a step back and ask myself: is it realistic to expect this person to perform this action?
Sometimes it is okay to expect things from other people. Like let's say you are in a relationship, you have the right to expect them to be faithful to you. If that person were to not be faithful to you, you can rightfully be upset with them. However, if you are with someone and you expect them to clean their dirty dishes instead of just setting them in the sink, is it realistic for you to be angry at them for not doing so? If you have addressed the issue with them previously, then perhaps you do have the right to. But if you are just assuming they should know to do this then I challenge you to question your expectations.
Give this perspective on expectations a try for just one day and see if you find anything out about yourself! If you start to experience negative feelings toward another person for a way they are acting, ask yourself: what is my expectation for this person and is it realistic for me to expect this of them? I think you will be surprised at how many unrealistic expectations we have programmed into our minds unknowingly! If you do give it a try, let me know how it goes :)