Expectations. They'll creep in when you least expect it. Some have been learned from our social / family setting, most have been programmed in since childhood. Left unexamined they will cause soooooo much suffering. Especially if reality doesn't meet our expectations.
It's such an easy trap to fall into but we have made up or inherited stories about how the world “should” be, how people should behave and then we get pissed off when it doesn't measure up to our made up stories. It's…. well…. kind of ridiculous. Yet it's exactly what we do over & over again - I'm guilty! Can you think of the last time this happened? Next time you're super annoyed with something, a situation or someone - check your expectation. Smile & relax. We all do it, but with some awareness, we can lessen the suffering we inflict on ourselves.
I (like most of us) have a negativity bias. And I watch it every day, in meditation & out. It's part of what makes us human. It's our survival mechanism in full force - it's purpose is to keep me safe. But if it's not in check. it can really take over my whole being. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be a sad sack, looking at all of the terrible things in the world, unless I'm pondering & looking for a solution. It's draining, it's low vibe and god it's easy to slip into depending on the people you spend your time with. Do you notice how easy it can be to slip into “bitching mode” with different people in your life? For a second it feels good, satisfying even and then, it starts to drain the life out of you. It's the low hanging fruit scenario. It's so easy to find bad things everywhere if that's what you're looking for. Hence why my book collection is majority inspirational, self help, spirituality, and biographies. I consciously choose to listen to & read positive, uplifting theories, stories every day. I think it's easy to say that happiness is a choice but it's bloody hard to simply choose to be happy IF we're not aware of our thoughts, our tendencies, & our patterns. To create space of happiness, we have to be aware of what we're consuming through our eyes & ears. Aware of who we're spending our time with. We need to pause & create space. Become familiar & be okay sitting with our emotions, all of them. And to combat our negativity bias (we all have one on a varying scale) we need to work out our positivity bias; train ourselves to look for the good. Are you free of pain today? Can you breathe easily? Take a long deep breath now, in & out of your nose. Can you see? Are your loved ones safe & healthy? Can you see the sky today? Nature? Do you have a roof over you head? Can you walk? Look for these things. Pause and ponder them. Breathe it in. It's the opposite of most of our initial reactions as it goes against our negativity bias & what we're wired for but after a while, with purpose & a little attention, just like working out, that positivity muscle gets stronger, and it becomes more familiar.
In Mo Gawdat's book Solve for Happy: Engineering your path to joy he discusses the Happiness Equation. I listened to the audio version of this book, Mo's dulcet tones filled my airwaves.
Mo use to be the Chief Business Officer of Google X. When his son was 21 years old, he went in for a routine operation and died on the table. Mo's response, after 17 days of intense grief (and of course he's still grieving), was to write a book about happiness. Unusual & intriguing. He researched and wrote Solve for Happy. And since he's an ex- geek / genius / engineer, he uses a lot of computing & engineering analogies, yet explains them well - so they're easy to understand. A good audio book for motivation, tips & tricks, stories & inspiration to access more joy & happiness. I highly recommend.
Next time you're feeling annoyed, can you pause & relax? Two really important steps. Pause; because if you don't, there's little chance of Awareness. And relax, because it's near impossible to notice, and give yourself a chance to see clearly from a stressed & anxious space. Then ask yourself "What were my expectations?" Chances are reality didn't meet those made up expectations. Smile, it's a part of being human. Soften & don't hold on to how things should be, and see if you can meet reality exactly where it is.
PS. These words are just as much a reminder to myself as they are to you. Thanks for reading.