(With apologies to Tom)
Expectation kicks us in the backside every time.
If I expect Tom to take out the garbage in time for the truck and he doesn't, my expectation isn't met and I get annoyed and then mind kicks in to try to manipulate the circumstances and find a solution to the "Tom not getting the garbage out on time" problem.
It's what many of us automatically do. If something is wrong in our outer world, we try to fix the problem so that outer world matches our expectations. But the real problem isn't whether or not Tom puts out the garbage on time, it's the fact that I don't want to accept that he may not. The real problem is, "I don't want this."
Seeking a solution to the "taking out the garbage" problem rather than the "I don't want this" problem is easier and more comfortable for me. Seeking by itself is a pleasurable activity. Finding resolution feels good. I can let my mind take up the whole thing and make it into an intellectual exercise, see if I can get all my ducks in a row.
But it doesn't solve the real problem, the "I don't want this" problem. That's real world stuff. Emotions. Discomfort. The stuff that's really going on, not the stuff in my head.
The real world stuff is the fact that I may not be able to rely on Tom to put the garbage out on time – regardless of his good intentions, regardless of my good intentions, regardless of my efforts to make it happen.
In the real world, when I have expectations, they are often not met. Life isn’t perfect. Neither are we, we’re just human.
So, then I have to decide if I am willing to live with that less than perfect garbage thing/Tom thing. It’s a tougher choice because it challenges my worldview. It takes a bit more work.
But life doesn’t go more smoothly because it meets our expectations, it goes more smoothly when we drop those expectations.
For me, choosing to turn “I don’t like this,” into “That’s life,” is a much happier choice.
First published August 2013 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.