Thursday, January 29, 2009

As Good As Can Be Expected

The other day, I happened to overhear two women discussing a mutual friend. When one asked the other how the friend was doing, she dropped to a whisper, “Well, considering the circumstances and all he’s been going through, he’s as good as can be expected.” They passed by and I went my way.

All day, that smattering of conversation kept circling back in my thoughts and it has me wondering. As good as can be expected…is that it? Is that the key? Could it really be that simple yet critical? Could our expectations really be the tipping point between success and failure? Between satisfaction and disappointment?

We all have examples of the extremes of expectation in the people in our lives. We have those who never accept no for an answer; who never lose sight of the goal. No matter how far-fetched the goal might seem, when others tell them it’s impossible, they just push harder. We have friends and loved ones who are miracles having beaten diseases or living longer than medical science expected.

On the flip side, there are those who, no matter how wonderful things are for them, never seem satisfied. And still others who, when life is going well, seem almost fearful that things will come crashing down at any moment. They sabotage their enjoyment.

Perhaps it does come down to expectations/goals/thinking about life and also of the sorts of people and circumstances we want in our lives. I find that, for most folks, this is pretty frightening because it means taking responsibility for our life. It means we can no longer feel powerless- a victim of circumstances.

Instead, we would develop the skills to be the master of our destiny. We'd be keenly aware that we create life a moment at a time, not just accept however it comes. It requires taking stock of life, as it is now, and systematically beginning to change it to fit our expectations.

Long ago, Dad cautioned, “People will treat you no better than you expect them to treat you.” There’s that word again…expect. And, when I was going through a bad spot, feeling that no matter how good I treated everyone, they never returned the same, a wise friend said, “Don’t train the monkey to behave in a way that you don’t want. If you want something, you have to be clear and communicate it. Don’t expect anyone to read your mind or, if you don't start articulating your expectations, be prepared for them to keep doing it their way.”

You mean I have to develop the courage and skills to tell someone exactly what I want and need? Yes! You mean I have to be clear about my expectations of myself and others? YES! This skill takes time to learn. Mastering it can take years. Start now.

Most won't risk it. The idea of stepping into the light, living the life they deserve, seems too much. So, they live in a constrictive half state: never truly happy, not exactly miserable. They end up waiting instead of creating. Waiting for the other shoe to fall. Holding on to things that don't suit. A relationship that is unsatisfying. A job they hate. And lament, "There has to be more to life!!"

If you find yourself in a place that couldn't possibly feel more uncomfortable, take heart. That's the exact spot where everything is possible and you are beginning to sense it. Step up. Question! Do you know what you want? Do you know your truth? It starts by wondering what could be for you.

Tony Robbins said, "Questions are the power that release us." In order to achieve something, you must be able to see it. Questions help do that. It's the start of imagination. It's the adult version of Let's Pretend. That quote woke my curiosity. It gave me permission to wonder what else I should be expecting of myself and life. I discovered that my expectations were too slight, my thinking too tight. It was scary to expect more, but it's been so rewarding! When was the last time you played, Let's Pretend?

If you know someone who leads a charmed life, don't envy them. Use them as a possibility template. Learn from them. How did their life become so wonderful? What did they do to make it so? In most cases, their life isn't charmed because of the possessions they have. It's charmed because of their attitudes, their expectation of self-performance, their willingness to try. Never settling. Remaining curious. Willing to ask, "What if?" Curiosity brings wonderment and joy to living.

That same ability exists in every one of us. Only some turn on the switch of imagination while others fumble in the gloom of tiny thinking. When you question enough, you come to the realization that it isn't you or your life that is insignificant; it's your hopes and dreams that are too small!

If your life is exactly the one you want, celebrate it. Be grateful. Help others. Be kind. Share.

But, if you desire life to be different, set your expectations and dare. Want more, better, and bigger. Realize that it takes dedicated effort to have it. Take honest inventory- what to keep and what to change. Imagine your future in great detail. Formulate the game plan.

You are the author of your life story, the artist of your masterpiece. Dare to dream more and think bigger. Have high expectations and begin the work to manage them. Develop the blessing of hope. Seek joy. Ask bigger questions and you will get bigger answers. Expect miracles! Your life is yours for the creation. After all, what do you expect?

Namaste' Till Next Time,

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