I’ve been told for a long time that I really can have it all, the family, the career, the fabulous house, new cars, etc. And I’ve worked pretty hard in order to have most of what I want, but I’ve noticed it still leaves me wanting. There is always the next best thing: the newest model, the improved product, this season’s stylish color. We are bombarded with advertisements and websites and keeping up with the Jones’. I thought I was immune to this, but I’m not.
I notice that what always leaves me wanting, and wanting more, is the expectation of happiness. If I buy this product or achieve this goal, I will finally be happy, at least that’s what the advertising would like me to believe. The problem is that it never turns out to be as great as I expected, and world peace is still not achieved. Sometimes I find that I need new or different technology devices to run the new great software or I am missing some crucial element that will make my life happier, and I have to spend more money or use more time to get to place where it will all work out. I simply haven’t found the quick fix.
The other day, though, I was talking to a friend about learning to accept situations and people as they are, and that’s when the light bulb came on. I allow myself to be seduced into thinking that these things will provide me with a happiness they can’t provide, while all along I have exactly what I need to be happy and simply don’t see it. Acceptance isn’t easy. I find that I put a lot of expectations on people and situations that they couldn’t possibly fulfill, then blame them when I am disappointed. I have a hard time accepting situations I don’t like or people who are mean to me, but I also have a hard time accepting that things are exactly as they need to be for me in this moment when it is good. I am constantly looking for the next thing instead of living in this moment right now. When I can set aside my expectations and see things as they are, I discover that I can be grateful for some part of the situation, even if it is only as a learning experience.
A gratitude journal is a great way of reminding me to think about everything that had gone right in my day, and lowering my expectations is allowing me to recognize all the things I really have to be grateful for. So maybe happiness, for me, will come from reduced expectations.