what to expect when…

expectation:  a strong belief that something will happen

hello my joyful friends,

This post is about expectations.  Yes, what to expect when you have expectations.  The answer is, drum roll please, disappointment.  Yes indeedy…not the answer you were “expecting”, right?”  Insert that crazy face with the tears squirting out of his eyes here!  I crack me up.  Truth is, I read that book about pregnancy.  Guess what?  Having a kid was so much harder than they portrayed in the book.  What they told you to expect, much of it wasn’t true!  Or at least, in the heat of the moment when the shit hits the fan, literally, I cursed the solutions they put forth.  But, they sold a ton of books.  We all want to know, at least I do, what to expect. 

Here is how I began to understand the expectations game.  I had been griping to my therapist about this friend, you know the drill, “last week she did this, remember?  And, this week she did that…can you believe it”?!  (insert image of therapist rolling her eyes). Then the therapist said, “She is not a nice person is she”?  “No, she is not” I exclaimed.  Then, the therapist looked me right in the eye and said, “Then why do you keep expecting her to be nice?” Insert image of me huffing and puffing and searching for words and eeking out a statement that didn’t even ring true to me, “Well, everyone should be nice, don’t you think”?  She didn’t respond, one of those long pregnant (ha, ha, ha!) pauses. 

So, my values, the moral code by which I try to live my life, is not the same as my “unkind” friend.  She is a friend, a good friend.  She is a rusty, trusty friend. (see previous post)  Overtime, I have come to accept our differences.  I understand that she operates under a different set of principles and “kindness” is not something that she sees much value in.  She, on the other hand, would threaten to break the nose of anyone if she knew they were hurting me. She’s the one I want on the line when I call AT&T for the 5th time complaining about my bill.  See, I like when she’s not nice if the cause is worthy.  I now admire her powerful personality.  She speaks her mind with no filter.  She doesn’t seem to give a hoot what anyone thinks of her. 

I am not, I repeat, not a better person than she is because I am kind all the time.  I bake cookies and spread them throughout the land, I call it “sparking joy”.  I do not speak my mind unfiltered.  I think long and hard about what I am going to say.  I filter out the unkind stuff and boil it down to a very tidy, politically correct, could not possibly offend anyone, statement.  After I speak, I scan the room to see if anyone looks mad or sad or well, anything.  It is exhausting!  Sometimes, when I am hurt or disappointed with my kids, I decide to just “let it go!”  Take the high road.  Everything is just fine, I am just fine…but.  I have to work hard to be sure that my “letting go” is coupled with acknowledgement of my feelings of hurt and anger.  My therapist called it “toxic positivity” which is more like denial, dishonesty with me.  (shout out to Brené Brown, writer extraordinaire). 

A recent study indicates that the secret to happiness is low expectations. Rob Rutledge, scientist and doctor stated, “Happiness depends not on how well things are going but whether things are going better or worse than expected.”

My job now is to lower my expectations. Of myself, of my kids, my coworkers and well, my friend.  I don’t expect a cute smile and an air hug when she walks in the room.  I don’t expect her to be nice.  I expect her to be her, and she never disappoints.  Now its your turn.  Lower your expectations and see if you aren’t more surprised and delighted with life. 

Now go spark some joy!

spark: a trace of a specified quality or intense feeling