Have you ever noticed how sometimes the best days are those completely arbitrary ones, like that random Tuesday in March? Those days that don’t hold much expectation for anything extraordinary happening per-se – and nothing particularly extraordinary (in the oft-defined sense) happens – yet the resulting joy is somehow completely ninja and so special?
“Making yourself inviting means letting go of your attachment to the outcome of your desire. When you can engage with someone without expecting any particular result, you can receive any reply without taking it personally.”
(Marinade in that for a bit.)
Some things that jumped to my mind? Soliciting feedback on something (that first attempt at making roast lamb / leading a 250-guest event). Asking someone out. (These are the people-focused ones.)
I also extrapolate this to engaging with something – a day, an event, a book, an experience, a trip – without expecting any particular result. The “reply” can then be how a road-trip plays out, what you get out of a concert / conference experience, how that dinner party went that cutie the other night, etc.
Hopping back to the opening idea of ninja-happy days, I propose a few examples:
• Your bestie surprises you with a small and incredibly thoughtful gift. (This could be the gift of uninterrupted time on a phone call amidst mutual schedule chaos.)
• It’s a wonderfully sunny day.
• Some stranger you’ll never see again initiates a pleasant conversation for a few minutes during your day.
• Your partner clears their Thursday evening so that you can both do anything – or do nothing at all – together.
Warm & fuzzy, right?
Now imagine the impact of each of the above if:
• It’s your birthday.
• It’s your wedding day. Outdoors.
• You’re at a mingler event.
• It’s your anniversary.
Do things change? Should they? The happenings, unchanged, suddenly range anywhere from being just a “drop in the bucket” to absolute day-makers… and I contend that it’s all on us, as the recipients. We actually have full control. (Awesome.)
Note: I distinguish between (a) not being attached to a specific expectation and (b) not having any expectations, period. The latter I view as extremely useful, especially when striving towards a goal or ambition. It’s a fine line, but I’m more swirling in the former, which for me equates to letting go of a sense of entitlement.
So I propose:
Enough of the unhealthy expectations.
Enough of the vice-like grips on that one result / outcome.
Enough of the entitlement.
Instead, live with a wonderful lack of expectation just a little more often. Take in life with open eyes and gratitude. Reclaim “ordinary” and tack on the “extra” yourself.
This plugs into the whole “the journey is the reward” concept for me. By being more inviting (living & interacting more flexibly in our expectation of outcomes) we make it much easier for ourselves to see the extraordinary in the everyday. I see so many good days ahead.
Humbly, ~ H
The big dots of the post
• Expectations are not so bad. It’s when they morph into entitlement that we sabotage great days.
• Take back ordinary. Marvel in what’s around us all the time.
• Redefine extraordinary. Try living your next big event (anniversary / Mother’s Day) as “just another day” and see how incredible it becomes.
• Be a little unconventional. Don’t wait for the “special” day to do something for others. (Those days are expectation booby-traps anyways). Delight someone with a birthday-caliber surprise on any old Wednesday.
• If you hit “change something” in the flowchart above, here’s the empowering tidbit: the thing we change is us — total control. BOOM.
How inviting vs. entitled do you think you are? In this wonderful mess called life, how do you balance this notion of “letting go of expectations” with being “ambitious and driven”?
• A note from the ever-lovely Amber Rae
The above quote was one of two striking lines from an article written by Charlie Glickman. You can read it here. The second line is waiting its turn for the next post – for the sake of brevity, and to give these thoughts the space & time they deserve. So, connect away. More from me next week.
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If my reply makes sense to you I’m so happy we’re on the same page but if it doesn’t, Let’s talk ☺
I thought this was a wonderfully written post. I believe that in order to attain the unentitled approach we have to get in touch with ourselves, control our ego and find our purpose.
When we are unrealistic about what we expect we create reactions to a place and time that doesn’t exist, we (as someone mentioned on the internet) live in an imaginary place, one that’s so inhabited by everyone that it is a socially accepted level of insanity. What happens here is we start to use our “happy dollars” and we put them into a happy feelings savings account only willing to access our happy feelings when the time of maturity occurs aka the time and place we thought we would be happy. This is unhealthy because it robs us of the ability to deal with what’s right in front of us, paralyzing us from the ability to take advantage of feelings in the now making us wait for uncertainty.
In order to try and correct this,
The first step usually lies in getting in touch with our emotions, understanding and listening to the way we react to everything around us, this allows us to learn about ourselves. Through practice we’re able to control the way we react to everything around us. It’s so often we go through life lifelessly, with pain, anger, regret and resentment but we do such a great job of ignoring the cause of feelings and still bare the pain. Some of us get lazy and make excuses for the way we feel because of the way someone else has acted, or that it’s easier not to care, etc. We need to catch ourselves when we’re making these excuses and come with solutions as to how we want to react to everything that’s happening. Take back control!
The next step is understanding and controlling our ego. This is difficult because it is and will always be a part of us. Through the process of trying to understand and control it, we learn how the ego is merely a dependent creature.
We depend on the reactions of others, the ultimate downwards-spiralling search for validation. Seeking validation creates motivation by fear, this could be the fear of being rejected, being lonely, all the things we despise… We become so detached from our purpose that everything we do to get validation becomes a distraction.
Once we’re able to understand our feelings and that validation comes from within we begin to find our purpose where yes’ and no’s bare the same weight because they assure us of what our options and distractions are. In addition, it gives us the ability to learn how things around us happen and how we’re able to alter/control them or at best control how we react to them.
This is why I believe that the understanding of the ego and emotions and finding a purpose plays an important role in attaining the unentitled approach. It turns us from lazy bastards into solid people who are willing to work with a purpose.
[Healthy] expectations are not so bad [when they are the fruits of hard work]. It’s when they morph into entitlement that we sabotage great days.
It makes a lot of sense, we’re definitely on the same page. Thanks for the support, and for sharing your thoughts, S. I especially like how you articulated the imaginary place as “one that’s so inhabited by everyone that it is a socially accepted level of insanity.” Truth.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the “seeking validation” piece. I think this is a tricky one, because it seems to be such an innate human instinct (we seek response – a type of validation – right from birth). I don’t think all validation is necessarily a bad thing, but is toxic if we’re both referring to the type of validation-seeking that “keeps you busy” (à la “The Busy Trap”) – the exact thing that takes you away from what you outlined as the necessities: getting in touch with & understanding our emotions, feelings, egos, and reactions.
If you haven’t already plugged in to it, I think you would absolutely love Brené Brown’s work – look her up & dive right in. =)
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