Saturday, 10 June 2017

Expect Less

All our lives, we are told to expect greatness from ourselves — that other people expect greatness from us. Why? Why do we tell our children, friends, family, colleagues and even acquaintances to hold themselves to a higher standard? What do we think this will achieve? Perhaps we believe that adhering to this ‘higher standard’ way of living will in turn promote and produce an actual higher standard of living. That if I expect myself to get a good job right out of college, climb the corporate ladder and settle down by 30, completely financially comfortable and content; that’s the life I will lead.

But what if we’re wrong? What if all of this — all the times we tell people to work harder, dream bigger, push further — doesn’t foster greatness, but rather, discontent? We’re hypocrites, after all: telling one another that happiness is what matters, and what we should strive for, but that we should push ourselves and expect more from the world, as though that may somehow lead to happiness. Perhaps for some, it does. For most, I would argue, it doesn’t.

You see, if the ‘number one thing’ we need in life is happiness (whatever that means), then, in my opinion, the most important tool to get there is gratitude. Being truly, deeply, fully, universally grateful for what you have, and what you don’t have. Without the ability to employ a little perspective, a little confidence, a little self-love and a lot of thanks, how can we ever hope to feel happy?

And so now we see the problem: sometimes, you need to choose between your happiness, and your expectations. You cannot have both. What I suggest is that you find the fine balance between pushing yourself, working hard, dreaming big — and staying grounded, looking around, and thanking the universe for what you have now. After all, wherever you are in life, there is always something or someone to be thankful for.




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