The expectation of what lies at the end of the rainbow is always what trips us up.
Expectation and all the baggage that is attached to expectation is a big driver of unhappiness and disenchantment.
Expectation drives impatience, supports an undercurrent of “what if”, and quite often leaves us empty.
I asked a friend of mine who is a mother of four how she handles all the comings and goings of every day, the personally interpreted chaos that is likely her life.
Her answer: “I have no expectations”
If you have no expectations, you suffer no disappointment, and in some ways no over the top elation either. You remain neutral to the high-high’s and the low-low’s.
Neutral? What does that mean you say? I don’t feel anything and so therefore I will be happy?
Neutral doesn’t mean you don’t feel things, it just means you don’t get attached to those feelings.
The immediate sensation of elation when something good happens to you, or that sense of immediate disappointment because something went wrong, is normal.
But if you have a deep sense of expectation for a result and when that result doesn’t occur, your whole demeanour changes and you find yourself in a funk, then you’ve attached too much to the outcome, and not enough on the process.
It’s the same even if it’s a positive result.
Yes, be happy you won the game, or finished the project, or had a great date, but attaching future expectations to these results doesn’t serve you. Neither do over the top celebrations that leave you feeling empty the next day.
Instead of being attached to the outcome and having specific expectations of that outcome, good or bad, simply connect more with the process of reaching the intended outcome.
If you just focus on the beauty of the rainbow, and not on the “treasure” at the end of the rainbow, you will in turn enjoy the rainbow for what it is, a beautiful separation of light.
This is where the idea of setting intentions versus goals becomes more than semantics.
You see a goal tends to be rather objective and in light can lead easily to a greater sense of expectation.
I want to loose 20 pounds, I set out on a diet, I focus on seeing the weight drop off, it doesn’t come off quite as quickly as I would have expected, I get despondent about my progress, I give up and start eating badly again.
Instead, if I set my intentions with a connection to the process of learning about my body, how to eat more healthily, what exercise to do to support, and then I reflect daily on how I am doing with immediate positive and constructive change, I get connected to the process.
I become more self-referred, what am I learning, what am I experiencing, what am I more aware of on a moment-to-moment basis.
The more connected I am to the process, the less finite my expectations become, and a sense that progress is the most important thing, not perfection becomes the theme.
Perfection is an ever more difficult state, never truly attainable, just like the end of the rainbow, as we approach what we think is the destination, it some how moves further away.
Process however is not a state, but rather a pathway. We can move along that pathway as quickly or as slowly as we wish, the key is not being attached to the speed, but rather connected to the need to stay moving.
Simply moving, and moving with consistency creates progress. Tomorrow we will be farther ahead than today, that’s it, that’s all.
We are not stagnant. A rolling stone gathers no moss.
Progress not perfection!
Remember, a rainbow is simply an illusion of the refraction of light, as an expectation is just an illusion in the imagination of our mind.
Originally published at medium.com