There is a beautiful scene in 500 Days of Summer where the hero of our story, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is going to meet his crush after a long time apart. His expectation is every man’s ideal outcome at a party – shining in group conversations, making people laugh, and landing a kiss in a perfect twilight moment. In an alternative universe, our hero might have played his expectations into reality. In reality, however, it was the exact opposite. The director does a brilliant job of splitting the screen into Joseph’s expectation vs. reality, where we witness how awkward he feels at the party. Being the loner, he is pushed away from group conversations and doesn’t get his magical moment to land the perfect kiss. Instead, he is startled by the engagement ring on the heroin’s finger.
I remember watching this scene and expressing how unlucky one must be to experience such a turn of events. Not only that, it took me back to events where my reality was nothing like my expectations. The disappointment was the worse. Feeling like shit as you replay back what went wrong and blaming everything from your looks to the colour of the ceiling for the ugly outcome.
What’s the solution you may ask? Well, to start with, stop expecting things will work out. 99% of times it doesn’t. Think about the disappointments you have experienced lately; was it because of sheer bad luck or a euphoric expectation. Mine was the latter. There is a bullshit line that many spiritual healers/influencers sell us on that "think and your wildest desires shall be manifested". To that I say fuck you! It pains me to admit that I used to think this was true. Just to be on the same page, I am not stating to reframe your experiences in order to create a better path; no, that would be an efficient way forward. I am talking about simply thinking about something and hoping for it to happen. Now that I think about it, I am glad that I failed miserably. Perhaps my monkey brain wouldn’t have accepted how pathetic this is if I didn’t fail to meet my expectations.
Okay, no more expecting things to work out. Then what?
Next is to picture what could go wrong and expecting the fucked up result to happen one after the other. This can definitely be stressful if one decides to live in that universe. I am not asking to live in your worst nightmare. I am asking you to consider a shitty outcome and plan how to meet your devil. Tim Ferris has a great TED talk discussing how one can prepare for challenges and I encourage all you readers to watch that video. Removing expectations equals to happiness. You would understand that your dissatisfaction wasn’t because of the result, whereas it was due to farfetched expectations that were not met. Again, I repeat, don’t live in your worst expectations. You are practicing the different probabilities that you may encounter in the future. Do not operate in a sympathetic system, it does not serve you. As the saying goes, hope for the best and prepare for the worse.
Seriously, take a step back and analyze your life. What do you have to complain about? I woke up, drank tea, did my workout, ate, and now heading to work. If this is not luck, then I urge you to step outside of your rainbow vision and meet reality. I assure you that the beauty doesn’t lie on the outcome.
Give it a try. You would be happier when you understand how beautiful your day could be simply by waking up and having food to eat. Other than preparing you in advance, with this practice you will learn to appreciate the fantastic life that you already have. You ungrateful monkey. Easy, I am only talking to myself. Or am I?