What happens when you have an exact way you want a situation to go? When you have a way you want someone to act? A clear image of how the future should go down? A bar for someone to meet (and jump over)? A path of achievement or behavior set for yourself?
Epic let downs. Falsifying future memories. Obsessing and analyzing over the past. An ongoing cycle of disappointment.
At dinner lifted above the jungle of Bali, local music blasting in the background, chatter all around me… I sat mesmerized in the advice of a woman who’d been married longer than I had been alive: “If you want to be happy in love, you must leave your expectations behind.”
Hold the phone. Drop the mic. No Expectations. Woah. Lasting Love. Double Woah.
Love of another human. Love of your career. Love of a partner. A best friend. Love of yourself. Love of any kind requires dropping expectations. Leaving them where they came from.
I hold onto my expectations like I’d grasp a knife in a dark, violent alley. For dear life. This way or bust. My way or else. If it’s not everything, it’s nothing. If you don’t see what I see? You’re not right.
They go on. Expectations in every area. And I always end up bummed. Feeling like I’m controlling too tight. Unhappy it wasn’t my version of perfect.
Why didn’t that meeting go like I had planned? Why wasn’t his text flirty? Why wasn’t this trip everything I had hoped? Why did I make that decision? Why do I still care? Why aren’t I over it? This isn’t the color I thought I was. Why why why why is this not going how I want? Darn, her meal looks better. Why didn’t it pan out? Why is this workout so hard today? I thought my idea was better than that. This is fine, but next time will be better. I can’t wait until when…
Such utter disappointment sits in the ravine between where your expectations were and where reality met you. You can’t control reality, but you can control what you expect of it.
Think about all the situations that are so much better when zero expectation is attached to it:
Job interviews: Didn’t have your hopes up? Them either. Oh, but they called you back? Hell ya.
Birthdays and holidays of any kind: Assume the kids will fight. The partner will forget. No flowers. And the day will be absolutely beautiful. The best. Otherwise, you’re doomed.
The second time around: What pleasure. You knew what was about to happen, so you could adjust your hopes in accordance.
One-night stands: For a brief kiss, a single date or a night of romance, total liberation if you’ve got no hope of an outcome. Freedom to experience. To be present. To not give a damn about the future because you know what this is. Decided. Embrace it.
Going in blind: There’s a reason not knowing what to expect always ends up being so delightful. You didn’t have any bar to meet, so obviously what you did experience was bliss.
New movies, books, music: There’s nothing worse than picking up the sequel to your favorite entertainment and hating it. But picking up something new and loving it? Such a delight. Because you didn’t expect a thing.
That hole in the wall: You didn’t think a thing about the food. Which is why the hole in the walls are always our favorite. No one would expect the pizza to be that mind-blowing!
Life is just better when you don’t expect anything.
Listen, not having expectations doesn’t mean you get walked all over. It doesn’t mean you don’t have values, integrity, or desires. But leaving expectations behind lets you evaluate what shows up exactly as is—instead of what it is in relation to the made up image you had in your head. It’s taking life at face value. It’s allowing life to literally be what it is. And from there you can decide… is this how I want to be treated? Is this how I want to feel? Is this the energy I want around me? Is this the value I want to give? Does this bring out the best in me?
Expectations. Where are you holding on to them? How are they jading your experience? How are they robbing you of presence? Figure it out and leave ‘em. Be present. And find love of the moment instead. Embrace it.