Expectations and Happiness

So a few days ago I attended an e-class on intuition hosted by the Flora Sage Therapies Institute. I was so excited for two reasons: I had the day off so I could attend free of interruptions (my office is in a very public space) and it was free. The course advert also said there would be a special announcement just for people on the call. I assumed it was an announcement for a new program or something. Anywho, so I am in this class and the material is super good and I feel like I am learning some valuable things (example, clairsalience is a thing, who knew!).

Source: http://www.picturequotes.com/expectations-quotes

And then about halfway through the class the tone shifted and the instructor made a sales pitch for the entire second half of the course. The special announcement in the ad referred to an additional reading with the teacher if you purchased a particular package right then and there.

Now, I figured at some point in the class the teacher would discuss the programs her organization offered. I mean, duh the woman has to make money somehow. But when a class is presented as free, I expected the focus to be on education and to be in large part separate from the sales aspect of the organization.

But do you notice what I did there? I just transferred my expectations on someone who has never met me and on an event being hosted by an organization in which I do not participate. How unfair is that?

We all have expectations about the people and organizations we interact with on a daily basis. And while some meta-physicians disagree with me on this, some expectations are fine to have. You expect that your employer pays you, that your government runs in a certain way, that if you give someone money they will provide a product or service. You also expect the people in your life to act and react in a way based on your experience of that person. In an example that parallels my earlier story, if my dear friends Angel, Rachel, and Shelley at Cornucopia Collective are running a ritual then I expect certain ritual verbiage and activities.

Now expectations are tricky because they are not always met in a way we think they should be. For example if you are a parent, you sometimes ask your kid to wash the dishes. You know your kid is responsible (i.e. if you ask them to do something they’ll do it), but they may do it in the time and manner which you did not expect. And if you expect this chore to happen on your timeline or in they way you usually complete the task, you could be left with some serious disappointment especially if you attach emotion to this expectation being met. Buddhist philosophers and Toltic wisdom characterize that this gap between the expectation and the reality as one of the major sources of discontent in the world. Again, reasonable expectations like your employer paying you are perfectly fine. It’s just when expectations meet an attachment to a higher emotion like fulfillment or happiness that disconnect can occur.

The connection between expectations and emotions is something I’ve really had to tackle this year. When I graduated from school, I expected to find a job right away in a library. And I expected that job to be the only job that could make me really happy. That is all grossly false. I spent the better part of the summer unemployed, then I kept going on interview after interview with libraries and not getting any position. But I was so hung up on this one perfect job and how happy it would make me. Well,  Ariadne you dumbass, you can choose to be happy and that isn’t connected to what you do for a profession!  I just need to pull myself up and go the inner work to become happy.  And once I further suspended my expectations about my career I found a job I absolutely love.

So back to my expectations about the free class I was taking. I admit, in retrospect I am kicking myself for not considering that this class would be in part a sales promotion and for expecting it to fulfill my expectations for how I think free content should work. And I admit with my current financial situation being what it is (not bad, but I have to keep to a very strict budget), my lack of ability to participate in an aspect of this class pushed against my frustration at my strict finances and my anxiety about unexpected expenses. These emotions clearly have nothing to do with the Flora Sage Therapies Institute or this class. That’s all me and my emotions getting mixed up in my expectations.

Lovely readers if you are anything like me and get in these types of pickles, there are two very simple things you can do to mitigate having disappointed expectations. And clearly these are both things that I need to work on as well to make my own life better. Okay into the good stuff.  For one, never make assumptions and be clear about what you really want. And if there is a bit of ambiguity, ask about it. To quote Don Miguel Ruiz, “Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.” Getting into this habit of asking clarifying questions will save you so much angst on everything from your relationship with your employer to your relationship with your credit card company. The second thing you can do to mitigate unfulfilled expectations is to take ownership of your feelings. If you expect a job or a class or a romantic relationship to meet a certain strong higher emotional expectations, frankly they probably won’t meet your expectations and you will be very unhappy. But look inward and really examine these desired higher feelings like purpose and happiness. Ask the Goddess about ways to disengage your expectations from these emotions and to find a reasonable balance in your every day expectations. Because ultimately you are in charge of how you feel about your own life. If you want to feel fulfilled and excited and happy and blissful, then that has to come from within instead of from things outside your control.

© Ariadne Woods


2 thoughts on “Expectations and Happiness

  1. Reblogged this on Laura Bruno's Blog and commented:
    So well said! This is a huge issue popping up right now for many people. If you find yourself becoming disappointed or devastated by situations or people not meeting your expectations, then this post is for you. Blessed Be! Find and be the blessing, because it’s there somewhere …

  2. Thank you for sharing interesting post. Yeah, expectations are always a tricky thing. A vivid ideation process can be both blessing and curse. Keep em high but if people screw up then forgiveness is a high priority. Especially to ourselves.

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