Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happiness is Having No Expectations

When I was a little girl, my favorite book was Anne of Green Gables.  I loved everything about Anne -- her spunk, her intellect, her imagination.  I loved her so much that my daughter's middle name is Anne with an E.  There was one thing, however, I never agreed with Anne about.  She had a habit of saying to her best friend Diana, "Happiness is having no expectations."  That's not a direct quote, I should add.  But she was often saying things like that and it always made me mad.  What is the point of life without expectations?  I spent half my childhood, okay, maybe more, daydreaming about things I expected out of life.  This included mainly people liking me at whatever new school I landed at that year after one of our many moves.  I dreamed of the teachers being bowled over by my engaging personality, of boys' jaws dropping open as I walked by, of a teacher secretly sending my essay into her publisher making me one of the youngest published writers ever.  I was always dreaming and never, ever living up to reality.  The fact that I was a shy, awkward kid until I sprouted slightly up and out rarely effected my day dreams but it did make me sad when teachers overlooked me, boys walked passed me and the really cool girls looked me up and down.

Still, I persisted with my huge expectations.  I believed that without them, I would be nothing.  I thought in order for one to succeed, one must have a clear vision, a direct path, an instruction sheet for God.  "Hello up there.  Thanks for creating me.  Now give me everything on this list."

While I do believe passionately in setting realistic goals, I no longer cling to expectations.  Instead, my goal is to take each day as it comes -- whatever that brings.  Rather than trying to change the world to fit my expectations, I'm choosing to change myself to flow with whatever life presents me.  This isn't easy, but then, whoever said life was?

Life is as hard or as easy as WE make it.  It's our choice.  Happiness is a verb; it's something we choose to be or not to be every day.

When hard times hit you, and they will, try not to let them define you.  Nothing in my life has turned out the way I planned.  Really, nothing.  I thought I would be a lawyer, but I fell into teaching.  What's that? Oops, now I'm a medium.  I thought I'd have two children, but my amazing Chloe came along and surprised us thankfully with her beautiful self.  My husband and I had our whole careers plotted out.  He even knew the exact date of his retirement.  But one bullet from a very nasty man changed everything, literally, everything in our lives.  I try very hard to not let that one moment define us.  Sometimes, many times, it does.  We're reminded of it when he forgets big things and little things, when he's fighting migraines or back pain.  I'm reminded of it every time I see a police officer who smiles at me and asks, "How's sarge doing?" But I try to focus on the many gifts and blessings we've received instead: three healthy, great kids, a career I love, love, love and a husband who's healing every day.

So give Anne's way a shot.  Try to wake up tomorrow and have no expectations.  Just accept life as it comes realizing that how you respond to it is your choice and, more importantly, that you have a choice.

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