Is lowering our expectations the answer?

The Daily Telegraph reported a year ago* that keeping expectations low may be the key to happiness – according to researchers at University College London.

“It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower,” said lead author, Dr Robb Rutledge. “We find that there is some truth to this: lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.”

But the team also found that positive expectations can influence happiness before the outcome.

“If you have plans to meet a friend at your favourite restaurant, those positive expectations may increase your happiness as soon as you make the plan,” said Dr Rutledge. But the team found that visiting a favourite restaurant could actually make people unhappy because their expectations are so high that it would not take much for them to be disappointed.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

They researched that! Nothing new here surely?

Are they saying you’re happier having your low expectations proven wrong or when you enjoy the anticipation of a looked-forward-to event? Surely all they ‘discovered’ is that both are true.

eeyoreThe problem with low expectations is that all sounds a bit like scarcity thinking to me. Remember Eeyore from the Winnie the Poo stories? His is not a joyful life! If your predilection is to ‘thinking the worst’ then you’re wasting valuable moments of your life sitting under a rain cloud when the odds are equally stacked that the outcome will be a good one.

In a 50-50 chance of good or bad outcome surely the enjoyment of the anticipation of something far outweighs any temporary disappointment that might occur?

AND ANYWAY…..remember Law of Attraction? What you pay attention to grows.

Think something will go wrong? It probably will!

Enjoy the anticipation of a great result? Bottom dollar you’ll get that too.

What do you choose?

 

* http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11010871/Lowering-expectations-is-key-to-happiness.html

 

You cannot get it done, ever, and you cannot get it wrong.

“You cannot get it done, ever, and you cannot get it wrong. So you might as well relax and start having fun with this.”   Abraham-Hicks

 

I find this thought very liberating. I often hamper myself by getting hung up on doing things “right”. Sometimes “good enough” is kinder. Sometimes allowing ourselves to fail is very smart.

We, like all of nature, are programmed to grow. It’s innate and impossible to fight. We will grow to the day we die – the learning never stops, the capacity to feel and do more never wanes. It’s because of this that we will never get ‘it’ done. We cannot get it wrong because there are always more depths we can explore.

When we understand this we can forgive ourselves if our natural expansion has caused us to hit a bump in the road. We can welcome the ‘wrong’ things and seek the growth in them. We can start to relax into the journey, be a little silly, take a few risks and have fun!

 

“Every blade of grass has it’s angel that leans over it and whispers, ‘grow’, ‘grow'” –  The Talmud

 

(With deep and loving gratitude to my friends and coaches extraordinaire, Kelly Cowan and Karen Hood-Caddy)

 

 

A whole new ball-game

On Saturday my daughter becomes a teenager and today, as if in anticipation of that great event, we had to have our first ever serious heart-to-heart.

It’s a humbling thing watching your children grow and blossom into their own people, and not without its own sadness too. Once upon a time this young lady was my “little girl”, so cute, so delightful and, I hate to say it, but… so amenable. Gone are the days when she will take me at my word and obey without too much of a fuss!

It turns out Julia has had her own idea about how things should go with her life for a few weeks now and that’s led to the need for our heart-to-heart today. Julia is making a break for her independance and although my first instinct was to mete out punishment for her misdemeanours I’m glad to say I checked myself and decided to get advice from my oldest sister who’s been here before. Good move. Thanks Caroline!

With Caroline’s help I saw that I had created the situation somewhat by holding on too tightly to Julia – so much so that she resorted to cloak-and-dagger behaviour under the assumption that I wouldn’t listen to her needs. Hmmm. I talked to Julia about this, this afternoon and it went very well. She has accepted (even welcomed) the consequences of her actions (pocket money taken away etc.) but I have also promised her that I will make myself more available to listen in future so that she doesn’t feel she has to go behind my back.

Gosh, that was scary there for a minute! I realised that I’d found myself in a different room in Julia’s castle and I wasn’t prepared for the change of scene at all. Teenage-hood. A whole different game! I welcome it, but I’m clear I’ve got a lot to learn and I really couldn’t have a better teacher than my wonderful daughter, Julia.

Turning my boat around

It’s late – it’s been a packed day, full of ups and downs but suffice it to say I’ve had a day that is much more about pointing my boat downstream rather than madly trying to work my way against the current!

I’m experiencing myself evolving a new way of looking at myself. Our journey through life is so often about expanding and then catching up with that expansion. Today I think I finally decided to catch-up with the idea of myself as a speaker. I’m on the first rung of that particular ladder but at least I can embrace it and say, “Yes, this is me”.

What helped enormously was going in on myself today and having a chat with that 12 year old girl who had just fallen off the stage. She was stuck there in permanent humilation. I talked to her, soothed her and persuaded her to take my hand and walk away from that moment forever. It is no longer relevant and we determined it will no longer define us.

We’re off to meet our Future Self now!

 

The ghost of the mad professor

This day has brought a bit of this:

and a bit of this:

I can’t remember the last time I had a chocolate bar. (A chocolate bar – not chocolate – that’s different!). I found myself buying one when I filled the car with petrol this morning. I knew it was comfort eating but I’d just got back from playing tennis so, what the hey! One thing I promised myself though – if I ate it, I wouldn’t feel guilty. I didn’t. Result!

So clearly I still had the comfort urge but at the same time I was ready for something more active. The only problem was I didn’t know what. Cue two great ladies – Kelly, my amazing coach and friend and Nicky – my PR coach. (I just love that I have a PR coach now!)

Both Kelly and Nicky at different times of the day had me tune into myself to really get to the bottom of what’s getting in my way right now with the prep for the talk on Tuesday. Kelly used something called ‘Focusing‘ which is an amazing way of connecting with all the different sides of ourselves that may be in conflict with each other. You do this by tuning into clues from your body – in my case, this morning, a tightness in my upper chest, a soreness in my throat and a queasiness in my solar plexus. Each part has a story to tell and it’s just fascinating to listen to what they need. Through this work it became clear that there was one side of me that needed me to relax, another that wanted to get on with it and get it sorted, and another that was afraid I would humiliate myself if I wasn’t properly prepared.

When I was in my early teens I got a couple of solo roles in school plays. Each time I forgot my lines and made a real hash of things. You know the expression “to fall flat on your face”? Well I literally did. In a play simply entitled, ‘The Ant Play’, I was given the role of a mad professor. I forgot my lines midway through and so just ran around the stage shouting the same line over and over again and promptly fell off the stage! Suffice to say, I never acted again. I suppose it’s little wonder then that these ghosts have come back to haunt me.

Sometimes just to name something is enough to start to heal it. Funnily enough, realising that some of what’s been stopping me has come from this buried place has really helped.

The other visualisation I did was this afternoon with Nicky my PR coach. She had me project myself into Tuesday and through her skillful guidance I really could see that I had enormous fun with it all – interacting with the audience, using great visuals and most of all keeping it really simple. In fact I realised that the way I got over my performance anxiety was by splitting the evening into 4 sections each of which could be treated as stories. It’s funny, I have a problem with learning lines but recounting stories is no problem at all. Hey presto, problem solved!

I have yet to work out what my ‘stories’ are but weeks ago I arranged for an actor friend, Marc, to come and help me prepare tomorrow night, so what could be more perfect? Don’t you just love it how these things work out?

As I said yesterday, I am truly blessed with some amazing people in my life.

When I told Marc earlier today that I was tying myself in knots about how to structure the talk, he wrote back to me and said, “Knots are good!” I love that … and I love it all the more now I feel them starting to unravel!