Reasonable expectations verses no expectations…What do you think?
Last week I posted a message about green tomatoes and expectations. You have certain expectations for life that life doesn’t always respond to. Like waiting for my green tomatoes to turn red. Or wanting the people in my life to be what they clearly are not! Or expecting more of myself than I can put out. You can never be disappointed if you let go of expectations. Expectations can control you and can color your world (for good or bad). You can have too high or too low and negative expectations. The message was about non-judgment and letting go of expectations.
After I was through writing this post, the Zen Papa posed a question, “Do you think there’s such a thing as reasonable expectations.” I thought about it for a long time. I’ve left most expectations behind me and am a much happier person. Then again, I reflected that unless you’re a Buddhist monk, (and even at the montastary you would have certain expectations I suppose) you are a member of society and you do need to function. And your children need to function in this life, too. So can you have reasonable expectations without having extreme expectations? I decided yes!
What you’d say and what you wouldn’t say to your kids:
“I expect you to in school” verses “I expect you to excel in math.”
“I’d like to you to exercise” vs “I want you to be a football star.”
And for yourself:
“I want to be healthier” verses “I want to lose 10 pounds this month.”
“I’m going to clean out one closet or drawer this weekend” verses “I’m going to clean the entire house.”
Yet as I read through the internet I found this at Dharma Wisdom:
“Expectations are almost always the result of what in Buddhism is called “wanting mind.” This wanting mind is driven by desire, aversion, and anxiety; it creates an illusion of solidity and control in a world that is constantly changing and unfolds independently of how we believe it should.
That makes a lot of sense! Letting go of expectations is letting go of what you want to make room for what is and what is possible.
I also love the Buddhist thought called “Emptying your cup” and read this at Psychology Today:
“In the Zen tradition there is a concept called “shoshin”. It suggests that we should come to every situation with an empty cup, ready to receive. If our cup is full, then we have no place to put what is coming to us. Emptying our cup, we release our expectation and our sense of “knowing” allowing us to see what it is directly in front of us. This sensibility helps us remove our tendency to interject our ego into a situation, and also deflects our tendency to interject control.”
This idea is illustrated perfectly in this Zen Story:
“A professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s full! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “This cup is you,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”
When your cup is empty, there is room for more tea. When your cup is full, there is no room for anything. If you empty your cup (of expectations) you are then open to what else is out there. It’s like blowing the top off “the box”. You can’t think outside the box until you can get out of it. Look for possibilities and empty your cup see what fills it.
I also feel that I’m the best person to decide what my life is going to be like. And so is everyone else for themselves. Every person should decide what their life is going to be like. This includes my children, my husband, my co-workers, my friends and you! The ability to decide what we want is freedom and is your greatest wealth. I hope if anyone told me what they wanted out of life, I would be enthusiastic, try not to judge and support them in their endeavors.
Reasonable expectations verses no expectations…it’s a hard question to answer!
What do you think? Is there such a thing as reasonable expectations? Or should we let go of everything? I think both are good. I’d love to hear your thoughts below!
Like what you’ve read and want Zen Mama delivered to your email? I promise your email won’t be shared. Subscribe here: