3 Simple Words – Expectation Reduces Joy
Today’s prompt reminded me of this one-off statement during a management training program I had in college. I can’t quite remember what else was said during the training or the trainer but this line went into my memory box, to be retrieved as and when required. As I got out into the world, and went through the downs, I would remember these words, mend my broken heart and start fresh again, only to forget it until the next episode of getting hurt.
20 years on and several experiences, I can vouch for this simple but extremely valuable lesson. I would call it the key to happiness. – Do your duty, do what’s right but don’t build your expectations- not from family, not from friends , not from your children and definitely not from the organisation in which you work.When you expect, you set a bar. When people don’t meet the bar, you get hurt; the hurt turns to anger, resentment, depression, stress and affects only YOU.
Take Control- EXPECT ONLY FROM YOURSELF
Like they say, happiness is purely a state of mind. You are the owner of that mind and you alone must control how you feel. Keep the control over your happiness in your hand. When you expect, you pass over that control to somebody else and the hard truth is you really have no control over anything or anybody other than you, yourself.
I know it’s easier said than done and no matter how much you tell yourself you’re not going to expect, you do end up expecting- you expect your kids to be kind to you because you’ve given them so much, you expect honesty from a close friend, you expect gratitude from a person you’ve helped, The list is endless…
So how do you stop expecting? Isn’t it human nature to expect a reward for an act of kindness or a good job done?
Well, maybe it is. Even for those of us who are extremely cautious and tell ourselves that we are not going to expect a thing, somewhere down the line, the expectation bug creeps in. The best way to fix it, is by mindfully lowering your expectations and staying in the “NOW”. Expectations belong to the future and the future is simply not in our hand.
Stay in the “NOW”
Focus on the present. You did something because it gave you happiness or because it made you feel good about yourself as a sense of duty or purpose, then you’ve earned your rewards. The equation is complete. YOU DON’T GET REWARDED TWICE FOR THE SAME JOB- once in the present and again in the future!
Don’t Go Overboard
Don’t make sacrifices unless YOU feel the absolute need to– not because someone else expects you to. Make it only when you’ve decided to. It’s your decision to make the sacrifice. You’re empowered and nobody should be blamed if you don’t receive the loyalty, respect, friendship, love or trust against your sacrifice because it was your decision. The act of taking that decision on your own should have been satisfaction enough so that there are no regrets in future. YOU did what what gave you happiness at that moment.
In relation to your job, you work because it probably makes you happy or you probably have to, to make ends meet. So, the fact is you’ve earned your reward in terms of monthly pay or the sheer satisfaction of having a great job. When you overdo it by burning the night lamp, not maintaining a work-life balance and not focusing on family and it’s not giving you happiness that’s when regret sets in, expectations rise and stress. Take control of your situation and your choices because blaming others is lame.
When you feel taken advantage at work or even as a parent, say “NO“. Children these days are extremely great at manipulating and having their way. Loving your kids does not mean saying “yes” to everything they say or helping them out because they have not been responsible enough to complete their job on their own. Your kids love you and are not going to stop loving you because you said “No”. Saying “No” allows you to have some time for yourself. Don’t expect your kids to remember all the sacrifices you made and expect them to return it to you. They did not ask you to make those sacrifices. You are making them out of choice.
Being a smart or hard worker does not mean saying “yes” to everything. It means doing your job well, doing it right and making a positive difference in the organisation or in your team. Don’t expect the organisation to care because you missed dinner with your family or skipped a holiday to meet your parents or skipped your lunches and ended up in the hospital. Your health, your job, your family is your responsibility.
Do things that make you happy
While there a number of things that you must do because you are a responsible person, because you want to make your dreams come true, because it’s a need, these things may not necessarily give you happiness. Take time out to do things that make you genuinely happy- go for a walk, have coffee with a friend, play a sport, travel, paint, read or simply do nothing. Do this at-least once a week so you feel you are in control of your happiness. Happiness is not handed out on a platter. So work towards feeling happy.Others are not expected to keep you happy.
Lower your expectations from others
Is you’ve tried all the above and you still can’t stop expecting, then lower the bar. This should help you in feeling gratification easily. Raising your expectations of others is putting unnecessary pressure on yourself and others too and you have no right to be doing that. You have the right to expect only from yourself, not from your kids, your family or anybody else.
Lastly, Live and Let Live- ‘LET GO’
Expecting from others is like putting a bond on others. That’s not how a relationship is meant to work. You give or you do for another person- your spouse, your parent, your child, your friend because it makes you happy. It ends there. They are not required to pay back. If they do, then wow, if not, it’s fine because you weren’t expecting it in the first place.
At the work place, it’s a professional relationship. Remember, you work under a contract. You work, you get paid. You work well, you get rewarded. If you are not happy, you are free to leave the organisation. If you can’t leave because of market conditions, then again it’s your choice. Don’t understand people who grumble, crib, blame and stay on. You have a painful boss, it’s tough but if you can’t do anything about it, then learn to live with it and find other ways to make you happy.