Hiatus over – Some thoughts on Expectations

So…it wasn’t an on-purpose hiatus…but I guess sometimes life intrudes and shakes up your mojo a little bit.  There have been about a dozen times in the last few months where I thought ‘Damn… I haven’t written a blog in a long time.  I need to write one.  What should I write about?… I have a few thoughts… Are they compelling?  Am I too tired?’  And another day would pass…

So anyway, as is my tendency for things I care about doing, I thought…No time like the present to dive right back in.  So here goes…

One thing that has spoken to me lately is the concept of Expectations.  We all have them.  We can’t really avoid having them.  We can tell ourselves not to have them…but we do anyway.  The funny thing about expectations is that we have them everyday in just about every situation and having them one of about 3 things can happen:

1)  Our expectations are not met and we are disappointed, shocked, disillusioned, angry, sad…the list of bad feelings goes on.

2)  Our expectations are met.  Something happens that we expected to happen and we don’t give it a second thought, because after all, it met our expectations. We experience these everyday and don’t think too much about them.

or 3) Our expectations are exceeded.  We are pleasantly surprised, overjoyed, thrilled, and we can’t stop talking about our experience.

Don’t we all wish that more of life fell into the last category.  How nice would it be to be surprised and delighted on a daily basis?  to be shocked out of your normal routine by someone or something that ‘makes your day’?  It is pretty cool when it happens.

So what do we do about it?  Do we lower our expectations so that we are pleasantly surprised more often?  Sounds plausible…but pretty sad if you ask me.  Because how long do you go with this philosophy until you start to except poorer treatment…poorer service…bad manners…etc as the norm?  At that point you have outsmarted yourself and decreased your standard of living.

Do we become more analytical?  Crunching the numbers in our heads of the likelihood of certain outcomes…expecting the higher probability result.  This doesn’t sound like much fun either (at least not to the average person).

All to often in today’s society we come across things in our lives that fall short of our expectations.  Whether it is food we order at a restaurant, the service we receive from our cable company, or whether it is the effort that a ‘friend’ makes to contribute to our relationship with them, we are all too familiar with being ‘let down’.

As with most advice, most of us are better at giving it than following our own.  I was talking to my daughter the other day about dealing with expectations she has regarding a friend who had been acting poorly towards her.  My advice to her, which on some level I hope she took to heart, was that the only thing she can control in this life is herself.  That no matter what expectations she has of other people or the world in general, she won’t realistically ever have control of anything other than herself and the way she reacts to the situation.

Sage advice, right…:)  Now if I could only be better at following it myself.  Instead, I find myself far too often as a frustrated idealist, wondering why the world isn’t more like it should be… at least in my head.

Recently I had my world rocked by expectation…. My mother went in for surgery to remove cancer in her lung.  The surgery was successful.  The doctor was overjoyed that they had gotten it all and it hadn’t spread.  She spent the next 18 days in the hospital.  I tried to visit most every day.  Her recovery was very slow and not without complication.  Some days I visited and she was herself…lucid…funny…on the mend.  Other days she was so under the influence of pain medication that she hallucinated.  It was an exhausting roller coaster ride for all of us.  Every day I went to that hospital with expectation and every day it was different than what I expected.  She came home from the hospital after 18 days and I visited her there.  She was comfortable.  She was healing.  She was snuggling in her bed, with her dog, content to be in her place.  The next morning a massive stroke took her from us.  It was devastating and still is…

Why am I telling you this?  Selfishly it is a form of catharsis for me…. Unselfishly it is a plea for all of you to consider the things in life that you take for granted each day…  To hug your loved ones a little tighter.  To make darn sure at least once a day that you exceed someone else’s expectations.  Whether you provide better service at work, or you are a better friend, or you are more polite to the people you come into contact with…it doesn’t matter.  Just remember that the only one you can control is YOU and the mark you leave on the world and those around you is what you will be remembered for…

Is this wisdom?  I don’t know… but take it for what it is worth to you and thanks for reading.







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