Goals are needed in life. So, set some goals and keep moving in that direction. An aimless life will lead to depression. But, when you have a goal, “I have to do this, I have to learn this, I have to do this seva”, then that aim will move your life in the right direction. Expectations are a part of life, expectations are natural. But, when they come up, you should simply become aware that by expecting, you are only reducing joy in your life. When you grow in wisdom, you will see that all these impressions drop of and give way to something bigger and something more beautiful. We simply need to know that surprises give us more joy. You give your 100 percent, do whatever you can, and if somebody expects more, it is their problem, not yours.
“When a yogi sleeps, everybody is awake. And when everyone is sleeping, a yogi is awake;” this is what Lord Krishna says in Gita. What does it mean? It simply means that, when everyone is excited and worried, the yogi sleeps comfortably. The yogi knows that everything will happen for the best and all happenings will be for the general good. A yogi has this confidence. And when everyone else is sleeping, the yogi is awake, the yogi is aware of the truth about life, when everyone is asleep.
“What is my end going to be? Where will I go? What is life? Who am I?’ When none of these questions arise in people’s mind, they are asleep.
People are lost in watching movies and playing video games. There are people who are playing video games even at a very old age. Man isn’t seeing that death is near. He does not think, “I have filled my mind with so much craving and aversion. And I have done nothing to wash or cleanse my mind.” If you don’t cleanse your mind of impressions, then you carry the same mind and same impressions with you after death.
When you die, your mind should be happy and joyful! One who is sleeping, he is taking all the garbage into his mind whilst the yogi is alert and awake. He does not take any garbage from anybody.
Your mind is completely destroyed thinking about others imperfections. Leave others imperfections to others. Let them handle that. You handle your mind, you handle your imperfections; that is good enough. Do you have patience to accept others mistakes? You have to accept others mistakes. And only if you are so compassionate, can you correct them. Otherwise, leave it to nature, she has her own ways to set it right. But, if you are so compassionate and correct others mistakes with compassion, then it doesn’t get into your head, your mind.
When do you get angry or upset? – When you see someone else’s action as imperfect. Can you correct somebody’s action like this (meaning, when you are angry or upset)? His action is imperfect but now by thinking about it, your mind has become imperfect. At least, save your mind. Others have gone on the wrong path, why should you let your mind also dwell on the wrong path? That is why Krishna says; the yogi is awake when others are sleeping. When you are sleeping, you let others garbage enter your mind. But yogis don’t let this happen. They keep their mind fresh.
The world is full of differences; arguments are inevitable. With forbearance, patience and wisdom, skillfully make your way up. Fools will make you wiser. The number of fools around you indicates the strength of your centeredness. Don’t try to get rid of them! If you lose your center, you will have no patience to put up with them. When you are established in the Self, you find that even fools will come up with wisdom; they are your own reflection, there is no ‘other’
When people don’t live up to your expectations, you get frustrated and you blame or curse them. By cursing, you lose your spiritual energy. When you bless, your energy goes up. Your own experience tells you time and time again that expectations reduce your enjoyment of life. Yet, most of us do not even realize; having too many expectations about everything, could be a reason for not being naturally happy. Expectation is just our imagination about how things might be. It prevents the mind from being fully with what is happening in the moment and thus, reduces the joy that is inherent in the present moment.
Clearly, expectations are not something we can or should avoid. They are just like all other thoughts; they arise and pass away on their own. Simply observing them with the knowledge that they reduce enjoyment in life is enough to avoid getting caught up into it. Unfulfilled expectations are a major source of disturbance. Many of us need an understanding of our mind and of life itself before we can ‘let go’ of expectations. This understanding can be gained through wisdom and meditation.
Say, you are attending a group meditation session and a phone rings. Phones continue to ring several more times during the session. One possible response is that you let go of your expectation that people obey the instruction to turn their phones of and accept the ringing phones. Alternatively, you may be unable to accept and may feel that the phone owners are lacking in awareness and inconsiderate. Consequently, your mind will be simmering with irritation during your meditation.
Now, an equally loud noise could happen by dogs barking, rain, thunder or traffic. The reason you would not be annoyed about the noise generated by these phenomena is that, you would accept them as part of nature, as spontaneous happenings. On the other hand, with the phones, you feel that the situation could have been avoided if people had behaved as they should. The feeling that the situation could have been different is at the core of your disturbance. Recognize that the problem is not in the situation but it is your reaction to it!
How Does Meditation Help?
Meditation helps with uprooting the disturbance or disappointment caused by unfulfilled expectations. When you meditate without any attempt to control your mind, you will sooner or later arrive at the conviction that thoughts, feelings and body sensations are arising and disappearing all by themselves without any volition on your part. Your response to those phenomena is also not directly in your control.
For example, in meditation, on some days the mind will drift in a daydream for many minutes without you being aware, whereas other days, you are aware very soon that you are daydreaming. Sometimes, you may be annoyed by your thoughts, but on other days you spontaneously accept them or are even amused by them.
Meditation also helps us to ‘let go’ of expectations, by allowing the mind to rest more and more in the present moment. By opening the mind to being more aware through regular meditation, we become more and more fulfilled and calm in the moment. The mind gains the ability to spontaneously accept people and situations as they are. Consequently, regular meditation will, over time result in fewer expectations and less disturbance and disappointment over unfulfilled expectations.Expectation is just our imagination about how things might be. It prevents the mind from being fully with what is happening in the moment and thus, reduces the joy that is inherent in the present moment. Click To Tweet
Nobody expects a good person to make a mistake. So, the better you are as a person, the higher the expectations people have of you. It is then that you lose your freedom. Your virtues and good actions are like a golden cage. You are trapped by your own good actions, for everyone expects more from a good person. Nobody expects anything from a bad person. Honour reduces the freedom. Your fame, honour and virtue can limit your freedom.
Most of the people are stuck in this cage of prestige and honor. They cannot smile. They are constantly worried about keeping up their prestige and their honor. It becomes more important than their own lives. Just being good or doing good to keep the prestige and honor is worthless. Prestige and honor can bring more misery in life than poverty.
Many desire fame, but little do they know that they are looking for a cage. It is an art to be dignified, yet not suffocated by it. Only the wise would know this. For the wise, it is natural to be in honor, and he is not concerned even if it falls apart. Despite having fame or prestige, he will live as though he has none. A wise person can handle any fame without feeling suffocated, for he is crazy too!
In any situation, you give your 100% and then that’s it! If people expect more from you, say, “I am so sorry, I can’t do this.” If you are not a doctor and somebody expects you to treat them, what would you do? Will you give them an injection just to satisfy them? No! You have to honestly tell them, “My dear, I am sorry,” and they will understand that. You give your 100% and that is how you manage others expectations.
Now, you expect others to do something for you. Well, if they don’t do it, don’t become miserable. Have compassion and see that this is the limit of their capacity. They have not learned the art of expression. Don’t expect someone to say “Thank you,” and all nice things. Suppose they don’t thank you, have compassion on them that they haven’t been trained or cultured that way. You simply have to see beyond an event or incident.
Take it to a bigger scale and you will see that, in this world, the behavior of people is the outcome of their upbringing, their education and their environment. If they lack these three things, it shows in their behavior. So, instead of blaming them, feel sorry for them – they didn’t get the education that you got. They haven’t developed the same type of sensitivity that you have. You are sensitive to others demands; they aren’t. Suppose someone does something for you, you express your gratefulness and thank them. If they don’t reciprocate, you simply have to attribute it to their lack of education and culture rather than blaming them. If you blame them, you feel bitter, but if you attribute it to lack of culture or education, you are at peace!