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How Expectations Influence Happiness

By May 5, 2015December 28th, 2015Choices, Uncategorized

For the first time in over seven years, I went to a Kundalini yoga class. It rocked my world. The class was everything I was hoping for and more. I bought a month package and eagerly anticipated class the following day.

Attending my second class, I sat in easy pose waiting for my world to be rocked once more. My heart was already blissing out, my face was smiling, my mind was envisioning class, and my body was ready to go. However, as we started, I started getting frustrated. This class is nothing like the first class, my mind silently protested.

I’m not sure how many minutes went by, but at some point I caught myself. I wasn’t present. Instead I was agitated, spending my time comparing this class to the first one. The whole point of going to class was to release stress, and instead I managed to allow my experience to create additional stress.

Then I realized what was happening. I unintentionally created an expectation for the second class based on my experience at the first class. I wasn’t giving the second class a chance because my mind was fixated on how the class was supposed to be, how it was supposed to make me feel.

As I sheepishly acknowledged my very un-yogi-like behavior, I realized I had the chance to change my experience. I had a choice to make. Get present. Release the comparison. Drop the expectation. So I did. And guess what? Class was amazing – different but amazing. Had I not released my expectation, I would have ruined my experience. But, making the choice to release the unnecessary expectation changed my entire experience.

A month into classes, there hasn’t been one that has been the same. Each class has been different but meaningful. And each one I’ve made the choice not to create an expectation. My only expectation is the unexpected.

This experience has opened my eyes to the many other times throughout the day that I unintentionally allow expectations to interfere with my happiness. Of course, expectations can be a wonderful thing. They help us hold ourselves to certain standards. However, when they’re unintentional or lacking mindfulness, expectations can be unrealistic. They can get us stuck in our heads. They can rob us of being in the moment and even steal our joy. They can create missed opportunities to acknowledge the positive in an experience.

Where are you letting expectations dictate your experience? What expectations have you intentionally set? What expectations have not been created intentionally or mindfully? How can you choose differently? What went right in a situation even if it didn’t 100% meet your expectation?