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Great Expectations

"We are not seeing a situation as it truly is if we have expectations."

I first discovered this quote two years ago when reading Judith Hanson Lasater's A Year of Living Your Yoga: Daily Practices to Shape Your Life. I've learned, both on and off the mat, that letting go of expectations is one of the hardest things to do. And try doing it in terms of relationships. It's damn near impossible!

I started thinking about this again after the Easter holiday. There was a remark made, in passing, about a loved one's relationship status -- or lack thereof. Often in terms of relationships, particularly when it comes to meeting someone, we say "it happens when you least expect it." There is a reason for that. One that is not terribly romantic, but beautiful once you understand it. Things happen when you least expect them to because you have released the expectations you were holding on to.

We put timetables on everything. Similar to the saying "a watching bot never boils" -- which does, in fact, eventually boil -- it can seemingly take forever for expectations to be met. We panic as we approach our self-imposed deadlines and seem no closer to our desired end result. But once you release the expectations, enjoy the present moment, and take it all in, you appreciate the journey. And if you're doing all that without expectations, you're more likely to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed.

Let's take a closer look at the saying "it was in the last place I looked." We've misplaced our keys. We've searched our coat pockets, the key hooks, and our purses numerous times and each time came up empty-handed. We finally release the expectations that we will find the keys in those places and expand our search. Once we do, we -- or a loved one -- find the keys. I feel that is a great metaphor for my life and my personal search for happiness. We are groomed to look for happiness in the obvious places: a new car, a large home, a high-paying job, an expensive vacation. Those things are nice, but temporary. I've learned that once I dropped the expectation of finding lasting happiness in those materials things and turned my search inward, I was pleasantly surprised by how content I already was and that I already have everything I need.

I am finally seeing my "situation" -- my life -- for what it truly is.

And I like it.