I read a wonderful blog post today that concluded with these words: "...the ability to be happy and experience peace at any given moment is not contingent on how I expected an event to occur. We all have the ability to manage expectations, change our state of mind and ultimately be happy regardless of how we expect things will unfold." (Posted on tinybuddha.com by Jared Akers, author of the blog spiritualzen.net)
This article came to my inbox at the perfect time, as I am feeling disappointed because my expectations are not going to be met. I have made great progress on my spiritual path, but this is my biggest sticking point. I want things the way I want them, and right now. Maybe it's growing up an only child in America. Maybe it's my inner control freak, or my vata-pitta nature. Whatever the reason, it's hard for me to avoid projecting my wants onto most situations. I didn't want to be stuck in traffic on the way to the dance recital last night. I don't want to cancel my upcoming lunch with a friend. But these things are out of my control, and I have to change my state of mind here! (You can hear the "dammit" at the end of that statement, can't you? I'll leave it off then.) The only control I have right now is over my reaction. I know this is true, and eventually I will get back to my breath and recognize that I can still be happy even though things will not go the way I would like.
Expectations creep up for me all day long. I expect sunshine, happy children and Life cereal for breakfast. Now you can see how I've set myself up to be disappointed all day long. Clouds, my son coming off the wrong side of the bed and something as silly as running out of my favorite cereal will bring me crashing down. I can roll with it and stay on top of the water, or I can sink into the muck. Some days I have to work much, much harder at changing my state of mind. Other days I have the fortitude to recognize the outcome of any given situation is beyond my control. Then I can stay in the joy that is my true nature no matter what is happening around me. I am hopeful these days will become more frequent, but I won't say that I expect it...
Much thanks to tinybuddha.com and Jared Akers of spiritualzen.net for the slap of perspective :) I really love the tinybuddha emails, you can sign up on their website if you're interested.