I have been thinking lately about expectations. I think expectations are the force behind most of our discontent. I guess the thought came to me because it is Christmas time and I am spending much of my time working at the Post Office mailing packages for customers. For the most part I enjoy my job until I have waited on my 1554th customer and I haven’t been to the bathroom or even had time to take a drink of my soda for the past three hours. I go to work early and stay late and my exercise routine is out the window. Forget meditating or blogging. Sometime in the middle of that 1554th customer I think, is this what Christmas is all about? All of this shopping and mailing presents and cards and what should I get this person and I wonder if this person sent me a card last year? Should I send one to them? I wonder if I sent some of my leftover cards from last year if anyone would remember which card I sent them last year? And then the 25th comes and goes and there is this big let down… all of this preparation and cooking and wrapping and stressing about what gifts to give and to whom and then in a couple of hours it is all over. Why the big let down? I think because our expectation of the event is bigger than the reality of it. With expectation comes disappointment. What if we could live without expectations? What if we could just enjoy every moment for what it is and not expect something else or something more or something we don’t have?
A lot of our time is spent thinking about being somewhere or doing something other than what we are doing at that moment. At this moment outside of my house there is over a foot of snow and I am thinking about a trip to Florida in a month or so and sitting by the beach. Last year, however, my trip to Florida resulted in a week of disappointment because the temperature never got above 55. I was expecting warm weather and sunshine and I was disappointed because my expectation of an event did not meet up with the reality of the event itself. What if I could have just enjoyed the trip with my husband and visiting my family without the expectation of what I would be doing or what the weather was going to be like? What if I could just enjoy the snow? What if I could just enjoy every moment for what it is and not think about being somewhere else or doing something else? What if while I am at work I could just enjoy being at work and enjoy waiting on customers or whatever I find myself doing instead of thinking about what I could be doing instead or what I should get done when I get off?
Maybe there are many keys to contentment but I think one of the major keys to living a life full of joy and having less disappointment is that when something is not exactly like we expected it to be to just take it as it comes and enjoy the moment anyway. How much of our lives do we waste away wishing we were doing something else? The monumental moments of our lives come and go quickly and the rest of our lives are filled with just moments. If we can enjoy every moment even if we are not doing anything monumental we will have so much more of our lives filled with extraordinary moments because we will soon realize that every moment is precious.
So am I saying that expectations are bad? I am not sure. I do know that if I am always expecting something in the future to happen to make life better than what I am experiencing right now, then I am wasting the life I am living right now. I guess what I am saying is that every moment is a gift. Every breath we take, every blink of an eye, every smile we give away, if we pay attention, we will learn to appreciate the gift of the moment instead of expecting something else.
Today I am thankful for eighteen inches of snow. I am thankful for the washing machine that is beeping at me, my husband napping on the couch, and that warm feeling that there is nothing that I am expecting that could be any better than this.