"I'm so frustrated."
"I just want to be happy."
"Why don't things ever work out?"
How many of us have thought or said any of these statements aloud recently? For me, these thoughts usually come after a let-down of some sort.
A call doesn't go the way I thought it would.
One of my children has a rough night and I don't sleep.
My husband and I have an unexpected disagreement.
Something I use in my daily life breaks.
I could list countless examples of occurrences that make us say or think about how life isn't shaping up in an expected way.
But that, my loves, is exactly our issue- We are EXPECTING life to go the way we plan it to go.
So many of us have a blueprint for exactly what we want from life, but also have very specific expectations about how we plan to achieve our visions.
But the problem with having lots of expectations about how life is meant to be is this:
Each of us is only 1 out of BILLIONS of people on this planet.
We cannot control the weather, the economy, the political landscape, or even our daily commute.
We can't control the people in our homes, those parked next to us in a traffic jam, or our coworkers.
Heck, we can't even control all of the thoughts that come racing through our minds on a constant basis.
We have alllll these expectations- and no actual way to make sure that any of them happen.
This, my friends, is the main source of our dissatisfaction in our lives. Expectations that inherently are affected by outside forces almost always lead to disappointment- because we have no control over what happens.
It is so easy to become disillusioned and frustrated when we:
-expect our spouse to meet a need we haven't even spoken aloud
-expect our kids to sleep through the night without ever waking up
-expect our boss to be in a good mood and receptive to our ideas 100% of the time
-expect the sun to shine every day we plan something outside
-expect our cars to start, our tights not to rip, our earrings not to fall out
-expect ANYTHING that is outside of our immediate control to go a certain way.
I know what you're likely thinking- "Okay Lee, awesome. Don't expect anything of life- because that feels SO much more positive."
Well, what if I told you there was an incredibly easy way to become FULFILLED by this lack of control and uncertainty about how our lives will go? By letting go of our expectations and allowing space for a different approach?
There IS a way- and it's called responsible appreciation.
Responsible appreciation is the simple act of recognizing that while we cannot control most aspects of our life, we have control over our ability to respond to what happens with appreciation.
-We can be appreciative of the extra snuggles we get with our precious child.
-We can notice the small, sweet gestures that our spouses DO that make our lives easier.
-We can notice how stressed our boss is, and offer to help.
-We can hop in rain puddles.
-We can take a breath, and know that everything that happens, even when it threatens to crush our spirits, happens for a reason.
I don't mean that we have to decide to get excited when bad things happen.
I am simply proposing that we decide to take life as it comes at us, and know that we have the ability to respond to the joy and the wonder and the sadness and whatever other emotions pop up along the way.
To live life as it happens and be grateful for what it is, instead of viewing life through the lenses of our expectations as "different than how I thought it would be".
So the next time you find yourself thinking or expressing how life isn't measuring up to your expectations, I challenge you:
Find a way to release the expectation your are holding, and find SOMETHING to appreciate in that moment.
And if you are struggling, simply remember this-
I appreciate you, my dear.