It happened again. It never fails. I’m sure it has happened to you as well. I went to a movie that I was really excited to see. The previews were really funny. The critics loved it. Everyone I talked to who had seen it said it was the funniest movie they had ever seen. Then I saw the movie and I was disappointed. Sure, it was funny, but the funniest ever? I don’t think so.
How weird is that? I saw a very funny movie and came out disappointed. It did not meet my expectations. That was the problem really. I was living in the future and when I got there I was disappointed, rather than being in the present and enjoying that. When I thought about it I realized that no movie could be as great as I expected this one to be.
That is the problem with expectations. We live in an unknown future and are disappointed when we get there. And yet, we do it all the time. Admittedly, sometimes the future meets or exceeds our expectations. Then we feel happy. The problem with this scenario is that we are setting ourselves up for a kind of emotional roller coaster that is completely unnecessary.
How can we avoid this disappointment? What if we looked at this in the context of the mindful lifestyle? We may know of future events but are grateful for the joy we find in each present moment. When the future events arrive we are not burdened by the judgmental thinking that expectations are, and find the joy that those future events hold. And we are grateful for it.
What if the present is not pleasant? We accept it without judgmental thoughts and move on. The moment passes and the pain along with it.
There is a difference between planning for the future and having expectations. Having expectations is having judgmental thoughts about future events—always a mistake.