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A Time for Mindful Movement, Meditation and Discussion.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Acceptance &. Expectations

In an interview with Esquire magazine several years ago, the actor Michael J. Fox had a great quote on acceptance and expectations:

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.
Acceptance is the key to everything.
Which isn't to say that I'm resigned to it, or that I've given up on it, or that I don't think I have any effect on the outcome of it. It's just that, as a reality, I get it.
--Scott Raab, Esquire, “What I’ve Learned: Michael J. Fox,” 17 December 2007.
What we expect can often determine the outcome of a situation. Expectations are our imagination, they are the story we tell ourselves about if something will be pleasurable or painful.

Expectations aren’t real, they are a story we make up ahead of time. We often experience many of our discussions with other people before they occur. We create expectations, good or bad, although perhaps more often bad, that significantly change our actual interaction with others.

We go into a meeting and expect it to go poorly.

We go to an event and think it will be boring.

We have a meeting with someone who we think is going to verbally attack us.

How often have we said, “that didn’t go as bad as I thought,” or “wow, that was a lot worse than I was expecting.”

The other day in one of my classes, all the students had presentations and it was a very long morning. At the end I overheard one student say to another, “that wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it was going to be.”

Before we ever engage with another person, the conflict or disagreement has occurred in our mind, in our expectations of the outcome. The majority of all conflict occurs in our heads, in the story of our expectations.

We shouldn’t confuse expectations with goals. Goals are specific measurable outcomes. We need to have goals or intentions to be successful. We set an intention for a meeting or a project, but that is very different than creating an expectation or story about the outcome.

Acceptance is allowing things to be. Allowing what is happening in this moment to happen.

Just as releasing expectations doesn’t mean getting rid of goals. Acceptance doesn’t mean we are passive. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have a desired outcome.

It simply means that we allow our responses to be born in that moment of awareness.

The teacher Adyshanti writes:
Who would I be without my beliefs? Who would I be if I didn’t grasp onto my opinions? Who would I be if I wasn’t looking for others and outside circumstances to bring me happiness and freedom I am yearning for?
Who would I be if I let go of my expectations and just allowed myself to accept each moment?

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.

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