If we were to see reality as it really is, all of our expectations would be met. But because we have limited perspectives with limited information, we expect things to happen that end up not panning out. When we expect things, we place our opinion of how things should be above everyone else’s and above what the universe had set in motion long before we were even born.
But what if we could look at life another way? Could we put aside expectations entirely? Could we open ourselves to the wants and needs of others, as well as our own? And what would happen if we traded in our expectations for hope?
When we expect life to be a certain way and it doesn’t end up happening, we begin to resist reality and we create an inner war between us and the universe. Whether we expect a great career, a big house, a fast car, awards and recognition, a big social circle or lavish vacations (usually because we see all of these things in the movies and media), by expecting them to come by a certain date almost guarantees pain and suffering when the universe has a different plan or a different schedule in mind. But if we hope for them instead, we stay open to new opportunities, we stay energized and optimistic during minor setbacks, and we are more likely to achieve all that the universe has in store for us.
Hope is trusting that the universe has your back. Expectations are you saying you know better than the infinite magical wonder of the universe. How we choose to view the world not only changes our perception, it literally changes how the world responds to us. In my YouTube video, I talk about how we can go from seeing the world as a scary, chaotic, isolated place, to a place of peace, connection, freedom, love and joy.
When we expect people to be a certain way, we are also telling them that we know better than they do. No matter how well-intentioned, placing expectations on others negates their own sovereignty to determine the course of their own lives, to make their own mistakes, and to learn from them. Furthermore, expectations imply disappointment if the other person doesn’t comply with your wishes, and so expectations are inherently wrapped up in emotional blackmail and manipulation.
Conversely, we can hope people change, we can hope people be kind and honest, and we can hope people do the things we wish. If they do change, great. If they don’t, we’re still hopeful. But to expect others to not live out their own karma (the cards they were dealt in life), to not play their role in this universe, would be to live in delusion.
People can only meet us where they are. We are all at a different place on the same journey. Some people will go far, while others may falter and stumble. That is OK. All we can do is be there to help the people who are willing to be helped so they can get back up and on the right track. While we can’t force others to change, we can change ourselves, and that can inspire others. If you are interested to know how we can make the greatest impact on ourselves so that we can make the greatest impact on others and on the world, listen to my latest podcast.
With expectation comes disappointment. With hope comes love, optimism, and courage.
Not wanting is not the same as not working towards something or not achieving something. Quite the opposite. Not wanting means that you will work towards your goals without attachment to the results and without fear of failure, thus more of your goals will be achieved and more effortlessly than ever.
Not wanting is also not the same thing as not doing or just accepting whatever is in your life. Without desire or attachment, we can work even harder to overcome adversity because we won’t be creating mental resistance and draining our own energy. Good and bad things will still come and go, but without being clouded by desire, our happiness will no longer be dependent on those temporary circumstances, and our contentment and satisfaction can begin to grow exponentially. More on how to understand the mind and become free from the tricks that the mind plays in my YouTube video.
As this week comes to a close and another one soon begins, let’s take a moment to remember that no one knows what will happen. Sometimes, what we hope will happen turns out to not be the best thing for us. Other times, when things go “wrong,” we later discover how much of a blessing it turned out to be. By reflecting on this deep truth, we can remain equanimous no matter what is happening around us.
PS: Some of the common questions I get are, “Can meditation help alleviate depression? What if meditation makes me more depressed? Is there a special way to meditate for depression? I explore the answers to these questions in my recent article.
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