Letting Go of Expectation - Gratitude Journal #10

posted on: July 23, 2012

I expected that I'd have a child by the time I was 30.  That didn't happen.  I expected I'd live within easy driving distance to my family most of my life.  That stopped happening in 2008.  I expected I'd have a staff and associates after 5 years of being in business.  Instead I've had to keep my business lean and small to restart my business in multiple cities to support my husband's career moves.  I expected I'd have a big house with a dog and plenty of room to entertain.  That happened for a few years and then it unhappened when we moved away to a city of mills and lofts.  I expected my skin would be smoother and less sensitive after my 20s.  That will probably never actually happen.

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What HAS happened, is that I've learned to let go of my expectations about what life should be and learned to make the most of life as it actually is, rather than waiting for things to change or expecting it to fit into a fairytale version of life.  The result has been a freedom to appreciate each moment for what it is, rather than expecting it to be more like I imagined it should be in the first place.  Having a big imagination full of ideals and expectations is great for creating art, making movies, and writing fiction, but it can be a liability when it comes to appreciating the imperfections of reality.  I've learned that real happiness comes from a practice of being grateful for everything as it is right now, rather than expecting happiness to come when things are different.

Reality: I may never have kids.
Rather than waiting for kids to happen, or trying to make them happen, I'm just focusing on the joys that come with not having kids right now.  The freedom to travel without much burden or additional expense, going to concerts and movies on weeknights, sleeping soundly at night not worrying about what might happen, and getting together with friends without needing to find a babysitter.  If I had kids, I'd be grateful for new experiences that children bring to our lives.

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Reality: I may never live within driving distance of my family again.
What we trade off in missed opportunities to be around for family more often, we gain in opportunities to live a better life for both my husband and I.  We also gain a culturally rich and supportive community that aligns more closely with our larger values in life, along with access to resources that can be difficult to come by where our families live.  When we visit for the holidays, we're able to spend dedicated and extended time with our family without the hassles of regular working life to get in the way.  If I lived near family, I'd be grateful for having someone nearby that I could trust to help me out when I need them most.

Reality: I may never have a staff and associates for my business.
I've realized that not having a staff has made me more flexible in business and given me more freedom to take risks and make quick and dramatic changes as I see fit for my own happiness and success.  It has allowed me to weather economic storm more easily and created opportunities for more collaboration, leadership, and engagement with others rather than trying to control it all.  If I had a staff, I'd appreciate having their support and help with certain projects.

Reality: I may never have a big house with a dog.
When I had a big house with a dog, I had a big yard that needed mowing and a lot of floors that needed cleaning, and lots of home maintenance that needed fixing.  I'm appreciating not having all of that maintenance right now and having the freedom to not worry about being home every night to take the dog out before an accident happens, or leaving the dog out in the yard because a job went too late.  If I had a big house and dog again, I'd be grateful for the opportunity to entertain and have more guests over, and for having a regular walking companion that made me get home at a decent hour.

Reality: I may never have perfect skin.
I've already spent too many years trying to look different than I do, rather than just being happy in the skin I have.  I've noticed that the most attractive people are those who are comfortable expressing their joy and who share their smile easily with others.  I don't need perfect skin to give someone a smile or to be joyful.  I don't need to be skinnier, shorter, taller, or have straighter teeth to exude happiness wherever I go.  If I had great skin, there would probably be something else I needed to get over in order to be comfortable and happy with myself- which is why I'm learning to be happy as I am and grateful that there is beauty in imperfection.

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I've seen too many people complain about what they don't have rather than appreciate all that they have- and even if our lives are exactly the same- the difference between their unhappiness and my happiness is that I'm choosing to live without expectations that things should be different.  I simply have gratitude for the way things are.  This doesn't mean I don't have goals or hopes for the future to keep me motivated and moving forward, or that I don't work toward making things better, it just means that my happiness isn't contingent on everything working out the way I'd like it to.  It means I'm not resentful or jealous of anyone else and I have no regrets about my past- instead, I'm simply grateful for all that life has taught me about letting go of expectations and learning to appreciate right now.

{If you appreciated this post, please share with those you think could benefit as well and join me in my journey to have a greater positive impact on the world by writing your own gratitude journal and sharing it or a link to it in the comments below. I would love to read your moments of gratitude and share them with others!}

(Images are from the Fairytales and Fantasies production by Miracle Providers Northeast)

5 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. Thanks for sharing! Just what I need this Monday morning!! Remembering to be thankful for what we have and not worrying about what we do not. Thanks!!!

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  2. Anonymous9:34 PM

    wisdom far beyond your years, sweetheart. Thank you.

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  3. Thank you! For underlining things I already knew and for pointing out things I could not see clearly.

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  4. My life is not going the way I originally planned either. I was thinking about that and looking at random websites, and ended up here. I certainly needed to read what you wrote. Thanks for the words.

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  5. Thanks for sharing! I feel the same in this period of my life, and today I found your blog by chance!
    bye
    Benedetta

    ReplyDelete

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