What is it about life that makes us believe our default setting is that everything should be easy and go well daily? It’s as though somewhere along the way of life we were programmed to believe every day should be a good one, that there should be no bumps, discomfort, or discourse. Why do we believe that? Setting our expectations up in this manner sets us up for one thing; DISAPPOINTMENT!
Now, I am not saying we should lower our expectations of positive outlooks and good experiences to make life easier or more manageable. What I am saying is we put unrealistic expectations on circumstances that are out of our control. When we get in our cars we don’t expect to have a wreck. However, we can’t control if someone else is on their cell phone, texting, drinking or doing drugs while driving. So, when we drive we wear seat belts just in case, and drive defensively. We don’t think putting on a seat belt is having a negative attitude towards life. We just prepare for that circumstance. When we go to work we don’t expect to have communication problems with coworkers. However, to be proactive we try to make sure everyone is informed through emails, phone calls, or meetings that the communication is open and transparent. We should apply these proactive exercises to other parts of our lives. We should expect that every day is not going to be easy and there will be conflict and some pain. We should be proactive and learn how to manage those situations. Mindfulness, the exercise of learning how to be present, to not attach to emotions or thoughts, is a proactive way to no longer be reactive but instead be quiet and intentional with our responses to life’s circumstances.
As I tell my students constantly the only expectation that is realistic is change. There will be change and if we can adapt and stay flexible we will be fine. In mindfulness we are able to find our center and the things that happen in life happen but don’t happen to us, there is a distinct difference. So, today consider what your expectations are of this day. Then consider the exercises you practice to proactively live this day to the fullest.