It is amazing, when you think about it thoroughly, how much ‘expectation’ is at the root of unhappiness. This is a natural, very human, thing to do. Not a day goes by without most of us having some sort of expectation. From the little things to the big things. We expect to have a meal at the end of the day. We expect our homes to not be on fire when we get home. It seems that many of these expectations are based on assumptions we make unconsciously. We do not, necessarily, think throughout the day about whether our houses are going to be burning down to the ground or not. We just kinda expect them not to be.
Even William Shakespeare was aware of this human condition. He was quoted, quite famously, as saying that expectation is at the root of all heartache. Being the romantic he obviously was, I would assume that he was referring to the heartache we experience when we are at the mercy of the opposite sex. He was right though. Think about an argument you might have with your significant other. Anyone that I can think of has expectation woven into it either obviously or subtly. An argument a wife might have with her husband about leaving the toilet seat up, for example, is only an argument because the wife expects her husband to put it down after he has relieved himself. A husband arguing with his wife about an affair she may have had, is rooted in the fact that her husband expected her to be faithful.
However, as the examples in the first paragraph suggest, it is not limited to quarrels of the heart. Each and every disappointment that a person can endure in a life time is only a disappointment because things did not go the way that person expected. Yet, does this mean that we should try and avoid expecting anything? Should we try and avoid assuming that things will go as we expect? Surely that will cause more trouble than it is worth? We can magically decide one day to remove any attachment to expectation, but can we expect others to do the same? Is this not something that would only really work, if everyone decides to do it?
And say everyone does decide to remove expectation from their lives. Try and imagine a life without expectation. Theoretically, it seems like, although an unlikely scenario, a potentially effective one. But once again, things practically fall apart. Industries would fail because employers wouldn’t expect their employees to come to work. Employees would not expect to get paid. The whole thing, in the infrastructure that we have employed globally, would fall flat on its face.
Maybe the answer is not to stop expecting things, but to widen our range of expectation. Maybe the answer lies in including more in what we expect from day to day to cover negative results. Or maybe rather than removing it, we should just learn to let go of its importance where relevant. So what if the seat is up when you go to the bathroom wifey, is it really that much effort to put it down? So what if the house is burning down, shit happens, let us move on. It seems the issue is not really expectation but rather dealing with life when things do not go the way we expect. I say expect all you want. But understand that things don’t always go as expected. Life will be that much happier if we just learn to deal with the unexpected, I would expect.