“Peace begins when expectation ends.”  — Sri Chinmoy

One of my dear friends has this as part of her email signature. I believe this to be mostly true.

I find I have a lot of expectations about things that may be unreasonable. I have an expectation that the holidays will be a fun time. Well, they are except that a series of unfortunate incidents have occurred over the years that have drawn a veil over Thanksgiving and Christmas, such as my parents falling ill.

I expect to get good grades in school. Yes, until my professor gives me and my classmates a particularly hard final exam and I don’t do as well as I’d like.

I expect that everyone will like me because I try to be a “nice person.”

Oooh. That’s not always the way it goes. Nice is a relative term and what’s nice for one person may not be nice for another. It’s all about perspective.

Conversely, I think about how wonderful life is when something unexpectedly nice happens, like those great birthday cards I got in the mail recently. I think about the trips I take to unfamiliar places. I think about the delight that comes with adventure. Life feels fresh when you have no expectations and no preconceived notions about things.

I’ve learned that when you have expectations that things or people will be a certain way, you set yourself up for what is sometimes a major disappointment. When it comes to people, you’re not allowing them to be who they really are. You want them to be the way you expect them to be. That’s not always fair or reasonable.

I told myself recently that the only expectations I should have are the ones I hold myself to – to work hard while still having fun; to be honest but kind while doing so; to not think that I have the answer to everything; to let others be who they are while focusing on my realities and what I can control. I don’t control anyone but myself. I shouldn’t place my own expectations on others.

It’s hard not to have expectations. Really hard. But as the quote on my friend’s email signature says, when you give up expectations, you’re at peace to just focus on what you can control: Yourself.