Let me share with you the most recent journey that I’ve traveled. I’ve just returned from an amazing week in San Francisco where I attended an Inspiring Speaker Workshop. The most relevant takeaway for this post came from former Saturday Night live writer Jim Pelley, now with his own Laughter Works
. Whilst teaching us about the significance of humor & story telling, very early on in his session he promised to tell us the secret of happiness. I waited very attentively during the rest of the session until he came to his point.
Expect less! Yes, that the secret! I’ll explain; After recounting a personal tail of a great loss and the profound impact it had on him, he made a very distinct point about the relevance we give to many trivial matters and how we could better cope with life by just adjusting our expectations. His personal tale included how he used to seem to always have his flights canceled when he arrived at the airport. Eventually, rather than rushing through traffic stressed out, he began to expect that his flight would be canceled or delayed. When he arrived and it was on-time, wow, what a pleasant surprise. When it was delayed or canceled, well, he was right, and put to god work a good reading book or other material to occupy himself with.
On my way to San Francisco I had booked on-line what I thought was a really cool window seat in cattle class. Turns out that the actual plane configuration is different from the on line version and I got stuck in a cramp middle seat. Fortunately, once the plane took off, I was able to move to an isle seat. My irritation was only lessened by the beautiful “50 something” couple sitting next to me that shared so many loving moments, they were actually challenging Maria & I for creativity, but still, the remainder of the flight just wasn’t the same.
For my return flight to Barcelona this past Tuesday, I decided to take Jim’s advice and expect less. Even though I had adjusted my on-line reservation, and at the check-in counter confirmed I would have a window seat, I just expected they would get it wrong again. I wasn’t placed where I thought I would be, but seat 36L of flight AF083 was a once-in-a-lifetime pleasant surprise. The plane was full, and yet I had two empty seats next to my window seating. The universe had rewarded my serving nature and granted me 2 empty seats to stretch my legs into. The TV screen in the isle ceiling was at a perfect inclination, thus not forcing my neck whilst viewing the movies. I read a book in-between meals & movies as if sitting on my lounge in Barcelona. In stark contrast to my trip to SF just one week before, where I was expecting more, Jim Pelleys’ secret to happiness (expect less) paid off!
This past week since returning to Barcelona I've been expecting less in many regards, and my life has been a quite pleasant series of surprises, both on a professional note, as well as a personal one. Mind you, I haven't lessoned my criteria for excellence or performance measurement, I just expect less and therefore am very objective in my analysis of the results I'm seeing.
I've also come to comprehend that whilst it is my desire to "feel" loved and happy, these emotions first depend on me and accepting what is, rather than constantly waiting for someone else to fulfill these needs. If I've expressed how I desire to be loved and this is not responded to, then either I'm asking for something that is unrealistic, the values of my partner & I aren't aligned, or it's just something that I have to weigh against the greater good of the overall relationship.
How are your expectations getting in the way of your happiness and satisfaction?