Week 3: Expectations Vs Reality
It hasn’t been easy planning for your life when the world has been this uncertain. We haven’t been organizing our usual vacations or even been able to date normally. At work, you’re making targets and forecasts, but they’re based on hopes instead of a solid base, leading you into a false sense of security. You revisit, reassess and revise them accordingly, but checkpoint after checkpoint, you’re still falling short. It’s a frustrating loop to be caught in.
Your expectations might be continually not being met. So what can you do? In the immortal words of Elsa… Let it goooo.
Not having expectations is not easy for many of us. I know it hasn’t been easy for me. Sometimes I feel like we’ve been conditioned to expect certain things, which inevitably sets us up for disappointment. Whether it’s being told how family should react in certain situations, or the things that should happen when you first start dating someone, we hear a lot about how things should be done.
Having expectations of others leaves us in a powerless position. We are waiting for someone or something to give us what we want. It doesn’t matter if what we want is something material or simply a better feeling. The fact is we are better off focusing on what we can do to attract the things we want into our lives and how to improve our own emotional state. When we leave these things up to someone else, we are bound to experience some disappointments.
After all, it's science! One of the world’s leading scientific experts on the subject, University of California, Davis professor Robert A. Emmons, said: “The practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life.” In their research, Emmons and his colleagues studied more than one thousand people between the ages of eight and 80. They found that those who are consistent about practicing gratitude reported significant benefits.
According to Emmons, “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide.” If you’re not sold on the health benefits alone, Emmons adds, “Gratitude blocks toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret and depression, which can destroy our happiness.”
If 2020-2021 has taught us anything it’s to focus on being present. String together good days and work with only what is right in front of you. Instead of setting expectations that might not be met, focus on appreciation.
What do you have now that you didn’t before? What do you value that you once took for granted? What has been the silver lining of the dark clouds and how have you thrived in this crisis? It doesn’t have to be monumental, just meaningful to you.
Even though expressing gratitude is proven to be good for the body and mind, it’s not necessarily an easy task. But when we practice being more grateful, we discover that there is a humility in appreciation; an awareness that we are part of something bigger that we can’t take for granted.