“There are two ways to be happy: improve your reality or lower your expectations” – Jodi Picoult #MondayMorningWakeUpCall
Better still, do both!
Sharing 3 parables that have given me some insight into how to navigate world of agitations caused by great expectations which might give you some direction to reduce the frustration from these misguided imaginations.
A young disciple of Socrates approached him as he sat by the beach. The young disciple told Socrates that he wanted to be as wise as his master. Socrates looked at him for a moment and then led him by the hand into the sea till they were almost neck deep in water. Socrates then asked him what the young disciple wanted. He replied “wisdom”. Socrates dunked his young disciple’s head under the water.
After a bit of struggle Socrates let him resurface and once again asked him what he wanted. The confused young disciple, thinking it was some test, once again responded “wisdom”.
Socrates once again pushed his head down under and held it longer. When he pulled the disciple up he once again asked him the same question and the disciple once again responded with the same answer.
Socrates pushed his head down a third time, holding it even longer till the disciple had to wrestle for his fledgling life and was gasping for breath on resurfacing. This time when Socrates asked him what he wanted he just about managed to whisper “air”.
Socrates smiled and responded “when you want wisdom as much as you want to breathe the air, you shall get it and you won’t even need me”
My take away: Don’t just wish for something. If you really want something then take action.
A Zen student asks her Master: “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen?”
The Master replies “10 years”
The student asks, if I work twice as hard and diligently then how long will it take?”
The Master replies “20 years”
The confused student asks, if I work thrice as hard and diligently then how long will it take?”
The Master replies “30 years”
My take away: Work towards your goal but don’t crave for it. The Universe then just loves teasing you. The more you crave for it the more the Universe makes it a point to pull it just a wee bit out of your reach.
Two monks have been meditating in a forest for an equal number of years. Monk #1 has been extremely dedicated and diligent about his meditations and Monk #2 has been a bit naughty, occasionally letting his mind wander, peeping and even whistling at pretty passer’s by.
The fable goes that Buddha was passing by the forest. He crossed Monk #1 and blessed him. Buddha told him that he had been very sincere in his practice and he would get enlightened in 14 years if he kept up his practice with all honesty. Monk #1 was absolutely dejected on hearing that he would have to ‘crap’ in the forest for another 14 years.
Buddha then passed by Monk #2. To him Buddha said that he had been an ill-disciplined monk and it would take him another 14 lifetimes to get enlightened. On hearing this Monk #2 was ecstatic to the point that he started doing cart-wheels. Buddha asked him why was he so happy to which Monk #2 responded by saying how could he not be jubilant when he was definitely going to get enlightened.
Guess who got enlightened 1st?
My take away: Like Bill Waterson says “I find my life is a lot easier (and happier) the lower I keep my expectations”
Each of these 3 parables in isolation could end up being misinterpreted. But when woven together (like Pulp Fiction) has worked as my google map when it comes to the navigating the vicissitudes of great expectations.
- Wishing for something ain’t enough. When you truly deeply madly want something, you will know it in your bones and you will then willingly and happily work towards it, you will take action and go after it with a single minded purpose – improve your reality.
- However, if you start craving for the goal, chances are it’s going to bring you more misery then happiness. So you’ve got to be passionate yet detached – don’t get attached.
- And if you can work towards your goal without expecting any fruits in return, then you’ll be the happiest cos you are bound to get more than you wanted – lower your expectations.
Yup, easier said than done. But what’s the alternative?