Expectation – The Gap in Your Happiness

The mental shift that creates a massive difference in your life

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Photography by Lee Searle

How many things truly live up to your expectations? The fact is, our expectation of how things will be, will never truly line up with our reality because our expectations are built on a fantasy of a future that only lives in our imagination. Whether our expectations are for good things happening or bad, they are our imagination projecting an emotional bias on to something that hasn’t happened yet and possibly never will.

Our dissatisfaction, disappointment and unhappiness lives in the gap between our expectation and the reality that occurs. If we are given $10 as a birthday gift but we expected to be given $100, we feel like instead of gaining $10 we’ve actually lost $90.

Likewise, if you expect a terrible thing to happen next week, you will spend the time between now and then feeling sad or fearful and as a result your low expectation might well become a self-fulfilling prophecy as you literally set yourself up for a fall.

The antidote to living with emotions of the future such as fear or expectation is to truly live in the here and now. To take each day as it comes with no expectations at all.

Without expectation that $10 bill you got as a gift will bring out a smile on your face and the week spent worrying would have been filled with peace.

If we can approach every situation without having already made up our minds about how it is “supposed” to be, our lives will be more peaceful and generally happier.

Life doesn’t always turn out as you expect it to

In 2012 I was forced to close my award winning luxury wedding cake design business whilst it was still on the rise, due to an apparently ‘incurable’ digestive disorder where there was no electrical signal passing from my brain to my stomach.

For nearly 5 years I mostly spent my time being physically sick or lying in bed with the chronic fatigue syndrome that eventually developed as a result. For many of those years I told myself how this was never meant to happen. I was supposed to be selling more cakes to my couples getting married at The Ritz, I was supposed to be featured in more magazines, and I definitely wasn’t supposed to be lying in bed all day with the expectation of death hanging over me.

Eventually my condition deteriorated further and after my (now ex) husband suddenly left me and my two children without warning, I knew it was time to get my affairs in order and prepared for the inevitable.

But from the moment that I finalised my Will and with the provision for my children taken care of, I felt a strange sense of freedom. I went from miserably expecting my death to accepting my fate and knew that I had done everything that I could for those I was leaving and made up my mind that I was going to make the best of the time I had remaining on this mortal coil. Carpe Diem and all that jazz.

Due to my illness I couldn’t do anything that most people would find particularly exciting but I found a new beauty in the world and a deep gratitude for all I had in it. I concentrated on how I as feeling in the moment and didn’t allow myself to dwell on the what might have beens, should’ve beens and could’ve beens as I had before. I released myself from the expectations that I had previously held about my life.

Although I’d accepted my fate, I wasn’t resigned to it though. Having already exhausted all that modern medicine could offer at the time, I looked into alternative remedies for my cure; which eventually came in the form of a chiropractor who loosened the vertebrae in my spine and released my vagus nerve that had been trapped there. That night I had the most excruciating pain that felt like electricity firing up an oak tree in the side of my head. The next morning I woke up without pain anywhere in my body for the first time in nearly four and half years. Over the next six months my strength grew, my sickness reduced and eventually all of my symptoms were gone completely.

Despite my resolve to live in the now moment, it was difficult to live without the expectation of getting ill again, but I was determined that I was going to continue to live in the here and now as worrying or reducing my life based on the fact that I could get ill again, was no way to honour the new lease of life I had been given.

I continue to try to live every day without expectation for bad or good things happening. I have a completely different life to the one I had before my illness. Back then I definitely did not expect that my life now would be that of a Life Coach and single mother living in Cornwall!

Every aspect of my current life is truly unexpected and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Living each day as it comes, has taught me to find the joy and appreciation for every moment I live and for every moment that has brought me here.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have plans for the future. I have plans so big just the thought of them fills me with excitement fit to burst and every day I take another step to creating the reality that I want.

But do I expect my journey to turn out exactly as planned? No, where would be the fun in that? Each time there’s a mountain or a pothole in the road, I view it with humorous curiosity and figure out a way around it that keeps the smile on my face.

Every day, in every way is an unexpected gift. 

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