Expect Nothing From Others And You Will Never Be Disappointed
The gap between expectation and reality is, most often, the biggest cause of disappointment, anxiety, and many other negative situations and outcomes. How can we change this?
The truth is that being a human is both a blessing and a curse.
Have you ever thought about how life would be if you were not a human?
I know I have. I’ve visualized myself as an eagle, flying high without a single care. Being an apex predator of the sky would mean respect and fear that can be translated into peace.
Just imagine how relaxing it would be to glide through the sky. If you think about it, in the animal kingdom, being a bald eagle is the equivalent of being a superhero. Basically, nothing can kill you (only humans and other big animals that don’t fly so the probabilities are almost non-existent), you can fly and most animals can’t, you have eyes that are as much as 3.6 times more powerful than human eyes, and you can kill and carry prey larger than you.
What else can you ask for!
The best part is that if you are an eagle, you get to enjoy all your superpowers without having to worry about education, work, health, wealth, the meaning of life, and many other thoughts and feelings that if not avoided could make our lives, as humans, miserable.
Keeping things in perspective, humans kind of have a superpower too. Our brain, in most cases, is a superpower compared to the rest of the animals. But we are like Professor Charles Xavier from X-Men. Yes, we are very powerful, but we can be lame and weak in front of the other superheroes and humans because we can’t do much else but use our brain.
Without the inventions, we’ve made thanks to our brains, wolves, bear, tigers, lions, and many other animals would easily kill us (and they would probably bully us a bit before killings us because of how weak we are compared to them).
Yet, we have the power of our brain and if we learn to harness it we can live a life full of meaning. Yes, I said a life of meaning... not happiness. Because happiness is not sustainable, but meaning is. You can have meaning in success and in failure. You can have meaning in happiness and sadness. If we aim for meaning, everything else will be easier.
PRO TIP: You MUST read this book by Victor Frankl (one of our favorites and also one of the top-recommended by guests of the Tim Ferriss Podcast), that talks about "Man's Search for Meaning" ;)
We want to share with you what we’ve learned this year about how to live a life of meaning so that we can focus on the blessing aspect of being a human being instead of letting our thoughts and feelings mindlessly lead us to think it is a curse.
By the way, when eagles are born there are usually several eggs in the nest and the larger chick frequently kills the young and weak siblings. On top of that, the parents do nothing to stop the killings. So, it might not that bad to be a human after all because most of the time we only have to endure a bit of bullying from our siblings but that’s about it.
Let’s explore how to embrace and appreciate the journey of a life of meaning as a human being.
Disappointment Leads to Fulfillment
Earlier in this series, I mentioned 2017 was tough. I lost many things this year. Friends, my house due to Hurricane Harvey, and struggled with my business. It was also a great year. My wife gave birth to our second child, my faith was restored as dozens of strangers helped me put my house back together, and Alejandro and I are finishing the year on a hot-streak of sales for Elisha Consulting, the marketing company we oversee.
I learned many lessons this year and one stands out. It will sound bad at first but will soon make sense. Lower your expectations of others. Seriously, that single mindset has allowed me to be more fulfilled. Let me explain.
I am a high-achiever who is always moving forward. My goal is to constantly get better and I assume others are the same in their professional and personal lives. While in reality, most people just float through life without really trying to improve.
I have seen this as a personal trainer, college instructor, and now as a marketing consultant. Clients would tell me they are dedicated to becoming healthier, and then they would eat terribly while foregoing workouts. Students would let me know at the beginning of the semester how committed they were to earn an A, and then they would skip class and wait until the last minute to do assignments. Now, I meet many entrepreneurs who tell me they want to see their business succeed, and then they won’t do the necessary items to make sales and grow.
In the past, these behaviors would frustrate me. Then something magical happened. I simply stopped expecting the best out of people. The only reason I would be upset with people is that I thought they would act a certain way or do a specific task. When they didn’t behave as I thought, I would get frustrated. Now, I just don’t expect anything.
Again, I know it sounds bad. But think about what I am saying. You will rarely be disappointed if you don’t expect anything out of family, friends, or colleagues.
This is the essential belief in Stoicism. Improve what you can control and don’t worry about what you can’t control.
Expectations are rooted in the idea you have control when you don’t. Letting go of expectations releases control and allows you to not worry about what others do. Perhaps you didn’t expect those paragraphs as my answer to “what I learned this year,” yet that’s exactly why it’s the correct thing to read going into 2018.
Are you still here? If so… get ready! Because we are about to go deeper into the tunnel. If you don’t like the darkness you might as well leave because it’s about to get ugly.
You should expect NOTHING from others. Expect nothing from your mom, your friends, your significant others, your family, your colleagues, or any other human being. There is only one exception… you can have expectations of your dog because dogs are the best but that’s about it.
Do YOUR THING and don’t worry about anyone else!
Seriously, pick a target, pick a tool, and go at it until you make it happen. I don’t mean to expect nothing from others and do your thing from the perspective of not caring about them. That would mean that you are a psychopath narcissist that creates no value and we don’t need more of that in this world. We need ego to create value but not that much.
What I mean is the complete opposite. Be so obsessed with creating value, about achieving and growing, that you have no time to think and worry about the things you don’t control.
Having no expectations is actually one of the most positive outlooks of life that you can have. This mindset will eliminate all the noise. But the ego likes the noise… actually, he is the one that makes the noise! So be ready to slap your ego a couple of times when he tries to speak up. Let him be inside yourself and look within, by focusing on what you need to do and what you can achieve.
By now you might be asking… how is this a positive mindset?
Let’s put it this way. Imagine you are driving a bus and you already have a destination in mind. Having expectations from others would be like stopping every time anyone asks for a ride and even consulting them on the destination you should drive to. Then, you might change your route based on their recommendations and yet at some point they might step out of the bus.
They made you change your route and didn’t even stick for the ride! That’s when frustration hits you hard. We want to avoid this.
The other extreme would be to stop for no one, not letting anyone get on the bus, and even running a couple of red lights because you don’t care about anyone else (these are the narcissistic psychopaths and we don’t want to become that).
So what’s the middle ground?
Get a map, decide where you are going, and start driving the bus at a steady pace (it’s not a race). Some people might want to get in… make a quick stop and let them join the journey. Some others might decide this is not the right journey for them… and that is ok. Make another quick stop and let them out. In other cases, you might have to even stop, get your hands off the wheel, and kick someone out because they are ruining the trip for everyone else.
But whatever you do, keep driving to your destination without worrying about who gets in and who gets out. Keep your eyes on the road. Sing a song here and there, share some snacks with your passengers, but never stop driving towards your destination.
And if you get lucky… I mean really lucky… you might just find someone who not only wants to go to the same destination but even offers to help with the driving and stick around until you reach the destination.
Matt and I are taking turns at driving this bus, and you are welcome to hop in and hop out as you please. We will not take it personally because we are not expecting anything from you. The only thing that matters is the expectations you have for yourself.
The big question is… will you stick around to reach the destination?