The Exhilarating Challenge Of Low Expectations

There is this 30 Day Challenge going around. It started with Benzeknees and I wondered if I should jump in. Then Edward Hotspur chimed in as did Lizzie. So again I wondered if I should jump in and then I stopped wondering and started to write. This is me jumping in. The previously mentioned bloggers answered the 30 questions briefly and took only one or two posts to answer all of the questions. Clearly, they are not short on ideas for future posts. Alas, I am. Short, that is, and not just in the diminutive in size kind of way though I am that, too, but I am short on ideas for future posts. So I shall take one day for each question and I should get about 30 posts out of this. Unless I tire of the whole what question will it be today thing, then I will get less than 30 posts. It’s hard to predict the future.

Now just because I said I would get 30 posts out of this, don’t be expecting a post a day because I am just not that motivated. I would like to be that motivated but I know I don’t have that kind of motivation so it might take anywhere from 48 to 308 days for me to answer 30 questions. I’d like to be the kind of writer that can answer 30 questions in 30 days, but deep down I know I’ll never be that kind of writer. I’m a quality over quantity kind of girl. At least, that’s what I like to say to hide my lack of zealous motivation when I have to tell anyone that it has been several days since I’ve written anything. But again, it’s hard to predict the future.

Today, I will be answering Question 27 – A quote you try to live by. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that was a statement and not a question. I’m right there with you. I think the “what is” was implied. Now the more linear thinkers out there and those of you who suffer from some sort of obsessive or compulsive or both disorder may be weirded out that I didn’t start at the top with the first question. On this particular day I was drawn to Question 27. On a particular day in the future I’ll be drawn to a different random number, though I think it is more a case of being drawn to the words that accompany the number. But I think it will all make sense in the end. By “end” I mean the end of this post and not the end of the space-time continuum as we know it because if that ever happens then I think that will mean that nothing ever did or will make sense so why do we spend so much time worrying about the sense of things.  Now, for the quote I try to live by.

Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.
Alice Walker

It is extraordinarily hard to do. And yet, letting go of expectations can be liberating in that exhilarating, lift the spirit kind of way. Expecting nothing requires you to be in the present moment. It requires you to be aware of your own thoughts. Expecting nothing means you recognize you must stop playing out all the possible outcomes to a specific scenario in your mind. It means giving up the need to analyze every word, every nuance of tone of voice, every gesture. All that does is serve to project an outcome in your mind that you have no control over. You have control over your mind, but not the outcome. Okay, some of us have more control than others of both minds and outcomes, but mostly we only can control our minds.

Now, obviously if you are weighing the pros and cons of major life changes or financial decisions, you need to ask yourself those kind of what if questions and think of every possible outcome so that you can make the decision that is right for you. I’m not talking about those situations. I’m talking about the non-major life changes, every day life stuff.

I know this sounds just the opposite of that send positive thoughts out to the universe kind of secret path to everything you ever wanted thinking. Ask yourself how often you are a little disappointed at a positive outcome to a situation. It sounds a bit crazy that you would be disappointed at a positive outcome, but it happens. It happens because we have turned a desire for a particular outcome to an expectation and perhaps we’re already living that expectation in our minds. Clearly, some of us need to get better control of our minds. I’m trying to do it with low expectations. Now, I have high expectations that I will eventually master the low expectation concept.

I’ve had the occasional expect nothing moment here and there along the way. So I know the benefits of expecting nothing. Simple things bring you joy. Those very good moments that happen will seem that much better because when they come it is a surprise.  There will be less disappointment because if you are expecting nothing, you are ready for anything. There are no preconceived ideas. You are open to the moment.

So, there you have my answer to today’s question which happened to be 27 – a quote I try to live by. It may not have lived up to your expectations in which case your expectations were too high. If you had not had such high expectations, this would have been a much better experience for you. Consider this your first lesson in expecting nothing. For those of you with lower expectations, I expect you will enjoy your visits to my world. The key is to expect nothing.

I’m not sure what you were expecting, but it probably wasn’t this. I took this self portrait on our scalloping trip. No manipulation of any kind has been done to this image. It is how the lens captured the image at that moment. It wasn’t what I was trying to capture, but what was captured was far better than what I was trying to do. There might be a lesson in there though I don’t want to look too closely for it right now.

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31 thoughts on “The Exhilarating Challenge Of Low Expectations

  1. I love the way you free-associate in your writing. I agree with your idea that low expectations bring about the most joy. I find that way of thinking very freeing. I find joy everywhere as well.

    • I go back and forth between expecting nothing and letting my expectations get the better of me. I do much better when I expect nothing, but I find it difficult to sustain.

      • I see your point. It’s difficult to straddle that line between expecting nothing and feeling apathetic. If we don’t have expectations or desires, then we strive for nothing in life. I suppose striking a balance would be to save high expectations for what you can exert some semblance of control over. I know of writers who have eaten themselves alive when their books failed to meet a level of expectation that was higher than it should have been.

        For example, most blog posts have better quality writing than any of the five hundred words or so of FIFTY SHADES that I forced myself to read. That author is now a millionaire and I’ll be lucky if I sell another book. I don’t feel angst or animosity because what controls that level of success is out of my hands. All I could do was write the best book I could and let the chips fall where they may. This is the expectation balance I’ve set for myself, and so far it’s worked.

        • For me it is not about finding a balance between expecting nothing and apathy. I don’t think expecting nothing equates to apathy. In fact, I believe that passion for something can be a tremendous force in one’s life. And as you rightly pointed out, doing the best you can in your endeavors is the best path to a fulfilling life. It is more a case of staying in the moment and allowing events to unfold. Yes, if there is something I want to experience I will do what I can to have that experience, but I need to remind myself not to anticipate the outcome or how I will feel as the future unfolds.

          I think you are a terrific writer and I know I am better for having read your work. I also realize that kind of 50 Shades success can be very random. I’m not demeaning any number of famous prolific authors. Most of them are excellent, imaginative writers. But I have also read some very good stuff on blogs that get very little notice. Often success is more a matter of right place, right time with the coincidence of talent rather than pure talent. And sometimes another’s success makes us shake our heads because we don’t see the big deal and then we begin to suspect the world is becoming less intelligent. Which is probably the case with 50 Shades though I didn’t read it so I don’t know of what I speak, which is often the case.

  2. GAH! TOO MUCH SUSPENSE OVER THE OTHER 29!

    But a good post. I probably should have taken time to do my posts. I didn’t (hee hee) remember that question when you put it up there. Gutsy move, starting with 27. I started with 1. How boring and predictable!

    • Thanks! Starting with 1 isn’t boring or predictable. Okay, it is predictable, but predictable can be good. But after my morning, I needed to write, and the quote thing jumped out at me. It helped me get past the emotions that were draining me. So for me, 27 was the logical place to start.

      • I’m afraid that you’ll tell me I’m wrong, but I think that if I was all bummed but lived in Florida, I could just go stare at the waves for a while and AHHHHHH, troubles fade at least a little.

  3. If I had to guess a number that you would NOT start at, Sandy, it would be one. You march differently and we are all the better for getting to go along on your wanderings. I won’t be expecting the same quirky fun posts every time, but I’ll be sure to check back just in case ;)!

  4. A great post, and great thoughts.
    I find I can’t function without expectations of outcomes or results, but I don’t get too attached to tehm, and am open to whatever happens.
    Works for me..

  5. Thanks for participating Sandy! I like your approach to the challenge. My approach was to be a bit on the pithy side. I hope you can finish the challenge.
    For me I find I need goals & objectives to keep me moving in the right direction, but I really wish I had the waves to calm me.

    • Having goals and objectives can be an effective way to achieve personal and professional growth. However, for me, expecting nothing is more a way of acknowledging that there is much beyond my control and spending precious moments trying to anticipate outcomes to things that are beyond my control is not the best way to bring more joy into my life.

      Thanks for issuing the challenge. I should get a few posts out of it!

  6. This made perfect sense! There is another benefit of expecting nothing – when you get something, you are more likely to be grateful. Gratitude once discovered (that isn;t really the word I want sorry but its the best I can pull up at the moment….) can make life even more meaningful – I am thinking this is a pretty good life lesson here..expect nothing, live in gratitude and you can be present in every moment…. or I could be way off base..I dunno. Glad you joined in. 🙂
    Lizzie

    • I think you are right about the gratitude thing. Staying in the present moment and being open to possibilities allows us to notice all those things that we often take for granted. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Lizzie.

    • I know. I see freaks everywhere, too. Or maybe I’m the freak that everyone sees. It’s one of those. The upside to being a freak is choosing a theme song is easy. Mine would be Superfreak. Of course, since Little Miss Sunshine, I always see that version in my mind when I hear the song.

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