My birthday was last Sunday. I woke up with such anticipation. I was going to snuggle with my husband, have a nice breakfast with him, go to church together, and then have some friends over in the evening for a potluck and outing to go see the last bit of Christmas lights in downtown Atlanta.
But my husband slept in and I didn’t want to wake him, so I ended up eating a bowl of cereal by myself, and he woke up just in time for us to rush off to church together.
I must be honest…I was pretty upset.
Not angry, per se. But incredibly disappointed. Forget the fact that I hadn’t communicated what I wanted to do with him at all; the fact that it was my birthday was reason enough for me to feel cheated out of the perfect day. We drove to church in stony silence. The day was not shaping out how I had expected.
Thankfully, we talked through it well before lunch, and the rest of the day was even lovelier than I had hoped.
Later, however, I started reflecting on how I had approached that morning.
I had had my expectations, and when they weren’t met, rather than adjusting my expectations, I chose to sulk and feel sorry for myself. I could have looked at that morning as an opportunity to journal, have some quiet time to myself, go for a walk, or clean the kitchen before guests came over…but instead I chose to pout.
Have you ever done this? Do you find yourself getting angry at people for not meeting standards that they might not even be aware of? Has that begun to cultivate a victim mentality in your mind? Are you missing opportunities to enjoy life because you’re too busy feeling sorry for yourself?
Beware of this trap. It is a dangerous one.
Disappointments can be really crushing. But they are also avoidable. Every disappointment is nothing more than an unmet expectation.
So how do you avoid being disappointed? Adjust your expectations.
Being inflexible in our hopes and expectations is a sure-fire recipe for disappointment.
The next time you find yourself welling up in anger at someone else’s failure to perform, take a step back and ask yourself…is this truly a failure, or simply a miscommunication? If it is a failure, does it matter? Can I still find something to enjoy or appreciate, regardless of my perceived lack?
No one can change someone else. But, thankfully, we don’t have to do that to be happier. As we move into 2016, I challenge you to begin to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, rather than expectation. Train yourself to focus on the positive rather than the shortcomings, and you’ll be amazed at how your relationships and quality of life in general improves!