So we’ve all been there, expecting the best in a situation and when it doesn’t pan out, we mop up the remains – defeated. Or maybe you’re one of the gifted few who never expects anything and instead accepts what happens. What’s better, rolling with the punches or setting your sights as high as the sky with the mantra of when you dream it, it will come – or at least hoping like heck it does.
Thriving on expectations is at times, the fruit of your existence. You get jazzed by the possibilities of life, expecting and planning for the best at all costs. Hope begets excitement and excitement produces results. We tell ourselves it’s nothing more than having a positive outlook as opposed to a negative one.
Expecting more – living with less
But trouble seeps in when your optimism goes too far. Say you meet someone during a chance encounter at an art opening. They soon become as captivating as the art. As the conversation progresses you find yourself daydreaming about a life long future together, certain they’re the soulmate you’ve been waiting for. You clear your calendar for the next two weeks. When the plans don’t happen and the calls never come you take yourself off the dating market, indefinitely. These types of crashes can be stifling, but if you think about it rationally, you’re getting worked up about something that was more imagined than factual – all a result of failing to your manage expectations with care.
Acceptance isn’t a curse
People often liken acceptance to settling, but don’t blur the two. Settling is earmarked by resolving to do something that is deemed less worthy, regardless of the validity of that mindset. On the flip side, acceptance has more to do with favorably receiving your current state of being and not banking on lofty outcomes. By staying grounded in your true circumstances you can avoid being disappointed when something doesn’t work out as you planned or envisioned. Instead of getting your panties or boxers in a bunch, why not open up to the possibilities of learning to accept and embrace your reality, instead of cursing it?
The balancing act
Like many things in life, too much of a good or bad thing can lead to trouble. The key to happiness lies more in accepting but not excepting. That doesn’t mean you can’t get excited about the possibility of something, it just means you can’t count on that opportunity until it becomes a reality. We’re back to that glass half empty/full conundrum, how you choose to view your cup is in direct relation to your level of contentment.
Here’s a quick test, to measure how you can manage expections:
Let’s say you’ve just had an amazing interview for that high-powered job you’ve been vying for. Though next steps haven’t been set you…..
A. Stop off at Target on your way home and buy that entertainment center you’ve been eying ever since you got laid off since the money will now be pouring in soon.
B. By the time you get home you’re defeated that you haven’t heard any news yet, despite having only left the interview two hours ago. You tell yourself that you’ve been out of the market too long. You plan for a career as a lifelong barista.
C. Once you’re home and settled, you send out a thank you note to your interviewer, cook yourself a nice dinner for a job well done, and tomorrow you plan to hit the job boards anyway. It’s good to keep your options open.
The best answer is C because it shows the knack of balancing optimism with prudence. You get where we’re going with this. Nobody is saying that you shouldn’t celebrate the small victories on the way to actualizing your dreams and desires, we’re just saying that the best way to avert a meltdown is to stay positive yet grounded. Do everything you can do, trust in yourself, and then prepare to make the best of the outcome.
When the time comes, and you hit your target, then you’ve earned the right to celebrate, so hit it with verve! Then you can afford to buy that entertainment center.
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