A comedian uttered this piece of profound wisdom:
“Everyone says communication is the secret to a good relationship. It’s not true. The secret to a good relationship is low expectations.“
I take this a step further: the secret to a good life is low expectations.
Let’s face it, expectations run rampant in our brains—many times in ways we don’t even notice. We may expect the sun to shine, the fish to bite, the computer to work, the kids to stop fighting, the plane to arrive on schedule, or we may expect that other people will never disappoint us.
I’m compelled to share an amusing story a client, Jerri, shared with me. We both got a good laugh out of this:
Jerri lives and breathes aggravation toward her ex. High on her complaint-list is how he fails to measure up as a father. One day she griped to a friend about one of his current mess-ups. The friend turned and said: “Look, Jerri, when it comes to dad skills, he’s a freaking buffoon. You keep expecting him to be otherwise when for 20 years he’s shown you repeatedly who he is. Clearly, you’re the one with the problem.”
Our very human tendency is to hang on to our dogged need to have things go a certain way. It sets us up for torment because it’s a futile quest.
When I find myself tripping over inflated expectations, a little voice in the back of my head goes, “Did you fail to notice (again!) that this is planet Earth!? What were you thinking? You know full well that certainty and guarantees are nowhere in the program.”
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.