Appreciation > Expectation

I previously wrote a post about freeing ourselves of expectation, which did not encourage having “low” expectation, but to rather have none at all. In this post I want to take a deeper dive into the dangers of having expectations and how it can sabotage our friendships, romantic relationships and work relationships. The appropriate word for this challenge is indeed, “sabotage,” because we place this danger upon OURSELVES with expectations.

The main danger of expectation is its capability of overlooking appreciation as a result, in all scenarios in life. For example, perhaps your significant other took out the garbage without you asking but left the bottles in the bin in the kitchen. You expected him or her to take BOTH the garbage and bottles out without you asking, so what does this typically lead to? This leads to the overlooking of what your significant other DID do and focus on what he or she did not do. Now, is this fair to your partner who thought he or she was helping out? I’m not sure that it is. Rather, if we were free from all expectation in this scenario, we might be more likely to see what our partner had done and appreciate him or her for doing the task at all.

Another example might be the expectation of getting something in return for doing a friend a favor. Your friend asks you to drive them to the airport often, asked for help on a new move or asks for a money loan. As a result, you are keeping score of these favors you are doing for this friend and expecting them to repay you for all the things you have done for them, and when they don’t return the favor, resentment builds.

The true destroyer at the end of the day is this resentment that has resulted from expectation over appreciation. Perhaps you can relate to a time when you had a friend or significant other who did things to show their appreciation of you but also omitted from doing other things that you had expected of them to further show their appreciation. It just wasn’t enough in your book. How did this relationship work out? Most likely, after continuing the cycle of expecting and not getting, while overlooking things to appreciate, resentment built and most likely tarnished this relationship till it could no longer be repaired.

So, now I ask you whether it was, in fact, them, who was the problem in the relationship for not having obeyed your expected (and often unexpressed) request, or was it you, overlooking what they did do any rather focused on what they did not? I encourage us to work on freeing ourselves of expectation or at least communicate our expectations to another. Conversely, focus on the good and appreciate what this other person HAS given you. Is it worth losing over expectation?

Change.

“ Live dangerously, take things as they come; dread naught, all will be well.” – Winston Churchill

The quote by Winston Churchill are truly words to live by when dealing with change.

There comes a time in everyone’s life where we experience change, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. At times we are in a place in our life when we might feel too comfortable, and are ready for a new challenge to take on. Or, perhaps there is a more unwelcomed, unpredictable change in which we cannot control. Regardless, our initial reactions to any change can be intimidating. By reframing change in our lives, we can move forward with positive disposition and excitement for a new beginning.

We can all relate to a time we have worked at a job for a number of years, and simply feel like we are not growing anymore. The decision to take on a new job, at a new company, with a new staff of people might frighten us to the point of discouragement from taking this action at all if we allow it. As human beings, we are instinctually programmed to protect ourselves from threat. Change can often trigger a threat response and cause this debilitating fear. We are then in control to respond to this fear. Are we going to allow fear to take over and remain comfortable where we are? Or will we embrace fear and take a leap of faith into a world of the unknown?

Conversely, other changes we have no control over and are oftentimes unwelcomed occurrences, such as a job firing, for example, to stick with the theme. Perhaps you are satisfied at a job, you feel motivated to work and feel you are continually developing, and suddenly, you are handed a pink slip for your departure from the company. Unexpected. Unpredictable. Yet, highly adaptable. Once again our choice in how we react comes into play. We can frame this occurrence as an opportunity or we can continue to sulk in the woe of a job had lost.

We will miss out on many growth opportunities in life if we do not embrace change, regardless if voluntary or involuntary. Personally, I am constantly reminded that we cannot predict the future as much as I would love to believe I have such a sixth sense. All we can do is go by intuition in the moment and taking a leap of faith into something that may or may not work out. Trust and faith in this change may just lead to a more rewarding outcome than you could have ever expected. Releasing ourselves from the anxieties of the future by remaining in the present and submitting to trust and faith can lead us through any change.

Comment with a recent experience you have had with change and how you have adapted!

What is My Intention For Today?

Take a moment to first ask yourself this question, and keep your answer in mind.

Recently I listened to an interview of Jay Shetty, who spend almost three years living as a monk. He has since been a public figure, promoting mindfulness and positivity, in short. During this interview Shetty says he begins his day with one question- “What is my intention for today?” The thought behind this question is to recognize what is the most important work for you to do today. Shetty encouraged us to focus on intention rather than what he calls the “weeds” or distractions that will inevitably come along with the day as well. The “weeds” represent the impurity of our true intention. In the example Shetty provided was his intention each day is to educate and inspire people. The weeds that get in the way of this pure intention is the money, the number of followers, and the fame that inadvertently comes along with it. Though it is easy to get caught up in these weeds, he focuses on this sole intention.

So, “What is my intention for today?”

As I ask myself this question, and my mind diverts to thinking about wish to accomplish professionally today. However, I interrupt this thought to reflect on my personal mantra—to be a source of peace and inspiration to all who surround me today. This begins to put my true intention into perspective. My true intention is to live out this very mantra. Initially, I believed my intention would be to close a sale and obtain a commission. But, this is not my intention for the today. Perhaps that is a personal goal I have for myself but it cannot be confused with being my intention. The lust for a royalty is a weed which may even distract me from executing this true intention.

What can possibly get me down or distract me if this is my sole intent? How can unsuccessful cold calls or a lull in a sales closing possibly get in the way of this? It cannot.

Focus on your true intention for today, and don’t let the weeds get in your way.

Quality > Quantity Workouts

In college, have you ever had that friend who claimed to be at the library for 8 hours, pulled an all-nighter and still questioned why he or she failed their exam? I’m sure you have. Though it is puzzling to them, you knew they spent at least 6 of those 8 hours distracted by Facebook, Instragram and Snapchat. What was missing here? The quality of the time spent at the library. As a result, poor results.

Similarly with working out, some may assume the longer we stay in the gym, the better results we will achieve. However, what is the reality of human nature at the gym? We spend a lot of our time looking for the right song, taking a Snapchat of us on the treadmill to prove we were working out, talking to our gym partner, and watching the clock. At the end of the day, how much time was spent actually working out?

Alternatively, you can get just as good a workout in a focused 30 minutes as you can in a half-distracted 1 hour. A focused 30 minutes is quick and pushes you to up the intensity to get your minutes worth of sweat in. Maybe you only have 30 minutes to get a workout in but choose to skip because you believe it is too short a time and it would just be a waste. Not true! Quality > quantity.

Next time you get up to go to the gym, try this quick interval 30 minute full-body workout!

 

1 Minute Sprint

50 Jump ropes

12 Bicep curls

12 Shoulder press

12 Chest press

12 Lunges

12 Squats

12 Stiff-legged deadlifts

Repeat X2

Not Sweating the Small Stuff

“The attention you give to action should be proportionate to its worth”- Marcus Aurelius

As we spin our wheels throughout the day, we can become overwhelmed by life in general. We rush to work, rush to school, and rush to make it to the post office before it closes. How much does all of this running around and energy spent on these worries mean at the end of the day? Did it mean you were going to lose your job if you were 5 minutes late? Did it mean you would flunk class if you missed the beginning part of a lecture? And would the post office not open again tomorrow or the next day or the next?

How much time do we spend on tasks that truly do not matter? And, furthermore, how much worrying do we do when we do not complete these tasks with perfection?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Think about what is truly important to you in life. Then think about how much attention you give to these important things or people relative to the attention you give to trivial annoyances or tasks.

“The attention you give to action should be proportionate to its worth.” Marcus Aurelius is encouraging us to stop for a minute and observe our actions. I do not think that Marcus Aurelius is telling us to necessarily quit giving time to the tasks we do not enjoy doing, otherwise, many of us would no longer have a job and some of us may never shower again. Ew…

Anyway, what I believe Marcus Aurelius is trying to convey here is the importance of prioritization. There will always be tasks and jobs we do not wish to give time and attention to but it is our obligation. Still, the time and energy spent on these tasks should be lesser relative to the attention we give to what we define to be most important to us in life.

In my life, I can become frustrated with having the wrong size shoes delivered, having 18 of the 20 cold calls go to voicemail, or being stuck in traffic when I am already running late. Events I am sure all of us can relate to being consumed by in one why or another.

However, these small frustrations are worthless in the grand scheme of what is important to me in life. Big picture, do they get in the way of my family, my health and my relationships with my partner and friends? Possibly at a given time, but not in the long-run. Soooo, why sweat it? The reality is that you can return the shoes and get your money back, people will eventually pick up the phone and you will ultimately get to where you need to be even if it is late.

We are reminded that time is our only non-renewable resource, so why choose to spend it so frivolously?

Focus on the three things that are most important to you in life. What can you do differently to spend more time on what is important and less time on that of lesser importance?

Stop for a moment when you observe a feeling of worry. Then ask, why am I worried? And, finally, ask yourself, how important is this worry in my life? If this angst is not regarding the three things you listed to be most important in your life, FORGET IT. It is not worth it to sweat the small stuff.

 

Can Any Form of Focus Be Considered Meditation?

As I lobbed the hackie sack back and forth between each hand, I felt focused. I had been focused on having the hackie sack land into each hand to ensure it did not drop. During this time people have been passing and conversations had been occurring in the distance, but I did not see or hear anything. All I saw was the focus of the ball and my two hands as if my eyes were a camera adjusting the aperture for a clear focus on the hackie sack and blurring the background imagery. My focus was not on time, for it was not on anything but the present moment.

After the conclusion of this brief 3-5 minute focus (some might call it a distraction. To each their own), I realize the feeling in my head and the focus that it ensued was no different than the feeling of focus traditional meditation provides. Meditation encourages all of us to recognize the present, for our minds not to wander. People may paint a generalized image of meditation of one sitting in a quiet room, legs crossed, and eyes closed as waterfall sounds play in the background. This is a perspection of traditional mediation practice of focus on the breath and single-focus.

So, am I suggesting this time of play, throwing a hackie sack diligently from palm to palm could be considered a form of meditation? Yes, I am.

I then began to think of all of the moments in my life when I have felt a similar focus. What I had concluded were moments when I am working out, studying, reading, or writing. The similarities between these activities is the discipline to have a single-focus. Most of the time, when we are truly engaged in such tasks, we do not notice time or distractions. When we are focusing on one current task, our mind IS single focused and is not wandering. We are present.

I often hear of people struggling to maintain the discipline of meditation (myself included), and I think this revelation for myself, at least, has relieved the pressure to find time to practice a 10 minute breathing exercise, and rather encourage me to find an opportunity to meditate in many different ways in my everyday life. By recognizing new forms of meditation, perhaps we can all do a better job in taking advantage of opportunities to be present.

So,

Indulge in that new book you bought

Write a blog post to share with your audience

Free write in your journal

Let’s get creative about meditation and find new ways to engross ourselves in the moment.