Great Expectations

“If you expect nothing from somebody, you are never disappointed” Sylvia Path

 

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” Alexander Pope

 

“I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than fatally disappointed.” Julia Glass

 

“I’m not angry… I’m just disappointed.” Mum

 

Okay, ignore the last one. It’s interesting that all those quotes (and many similar ones referencing disappointment) were sourced by searching for the word ‘expectations’. We immediately create a link between what we think and/or hope will happen and how disappointed we might feel after. No wonder! It is absolutely ourselves that create that reaction. For example, if a professional boxer is in the ring during a fight and gets punched they should probably realise that was always a possibility and not allow it to upset them. However, should they get punched whilst walking around the supermarket then they have every right to get angry. Similarly, if you’re stupid enough to punch a professional boxer in Tesco…

Part of my issue is this thread of avoiding any high expectations to avoid the lows of disappointment. I think that’s called Epicurean or something like that. It’s okay to have expectations but we need to manage them appropriately. Epicurus lived his life believing that one should limit his or her desires. This was based on the belief that living with the finer things in life means the absence will create upset or hurt. With his whole philosophy based on the absence of pain and suffering, he lived a very basic life. There is a lot that can be said for that and I would certainly argue against materialism but why can’t we afford ourselves some positive, reasonable expectations?

If you saw your friend working in a clothes shop and thought ‘brilliant, I may be able to get a discount’, that’s certainly not unreasonable. However, if you thought ‘brilliant, free clothes’ then you’re setting yourself up for fall. It’s not the positive expectation that has let you down, it’s overdoing the expectation.

I believe that it is the management (or lack of) of these expectations that can lead to a lot of our stress. If someone cuts you up in traffic, a lot of people would get angry; lights flashed and horns tooted. We start to get territorial with the belief that not only do we own our car but the 4 feet of space all around it as well. In truth, based on laws, rules, and codes the other driver is most definitely in the wrong. They should not have done what they did. However, anyone who has been driving for any length of time will have realised that it happens. And THIS is where we need to manage our expectations.

If we can manage these thoughts based on past experiences as well as our own values we can start to become more resilient. What else do we do to ultimately and inevitably disappoint ourselves? Sick of not getting a new job? Even though you’ve not sent out any applications. Not getting fitter? Even though you don’t go to the gym. If you set your own expectations purely on thoughts and wishes, then they will become disappointments. Action is required.

Take control. Give yourself a chance to meet your own expectations. And never, ever make your mum angry or disappointed. Trust me.

 

 

 

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The Power of Travelling

“The world is a book, and those who do no travel read only one page.”

Living in the 21st century the opportunity to see the world has never been greater. A quick search now tells me that the furthest city from my home town of Edinburgh is Dunedin, New Zealand. For less than £1000 I could go. Not that I have a spare grand lying around, but it’s very much saveable. For that price I would be able to see the full influence of travel in the world with Dunedin taking its name by the old name for Edinburgh and actually being modelled on Scotland’s capital. The perfect opportunity to see the real influence of human adventure over the years. Around 60’000 years ago humans first ventured out of Africa to all corners of the globe. With this brought visible changes to the world and the start of how we can change our planet; for good and for bad. Since then we have seen the rise and fall of many, many empires and changes in power and religion but this is all done by the natural human impulse to travel and explore.

Working for Tree of Knowledge allows me the opportunity to see parts of my country I would have never seen before. Couple with my personal travels, I am now lucky enough to have visited places like Laurencekirk and Los Angeles, Dunblane and Durban, Shettleston and the Shetlands or even Bradford and Bangkok. The incredible thing about this is that no matter where I venture, these places go back to how they were after the briefest of moments in each other’s company.

Or do they? I’ve always been a believer that places and travelling changes who we are but we also change the places we go. Seeing the extreme poverties in a South African township allowed me to experience a level of empathy previously unknown. The affluent Orange County in California afforded me a heightened, and slightly materialistic, ambition usually out of character for me. These places have undoubtedly changed me but they’re just places. Some of them have long lasting cultures, all weird and wonderful in their own way but you just have to look at Dubai over the last 20 years to see the massive impact humans continue to have on the world. So instead of this idea of going through life to try and ‘find yourself’, why not go through life and build who you are? Allow yourself to take small parts of the places you go to learn and grow. Leave your mark and take from it what you can.

Beyond this, remember that you shape the places you visit too, so think about how you do this and the effect this has on the next visitor. Above all, don’t litter.

 

Stuart Fenwick (@StuFenwick7)

Motivational Speaker at Tree of Knowledge (tree_of)