Expectations vs Hope: Could Shedding Your Expectations Improve Your Life?
March 30, 2017
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He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Matthew 5:45

If the world worked the way we expected it to, we’d have a guy operating the sun like a steam engine, deciding who deserved the sun’s glory to shine upon them every day. Obviously, he’d be on vacation 365 days a year. Luckily for us, it doesn’t and we don’t. Because of the Creator’s perfect benevolence, we all enjoy relatively equal parts of light and darkness, to which there are no guarantees. This serves as a reminder to us that firstly, no one holds monopoly over the human experience and secondly, all this is transient. We don’t know the finite number of sunrises that have been assigned to us and thus for every one we get, we say, “Thank you.” Of course we don’t always – much as we try to, not every waking moment of our lives is an epiphany of how blessed we are to be alive. Most days we are caught up in our worries and desires, all of which are wrapped up in expectation.

Expectation is the death of gratitude

When we expect something, we adopt this one-track mind that is completely focused on what little influence we have over the outcome, and completely ignores everything else that we have no control over. When this expectation is met, we tend to believe that it was by our own influence, skills or hard work and therefore, see no need to acknowledge anyone else involved in the achievement of the desired outcome (except maybe on a superficial level). This is the illusion of control. From this illusion arises the rigidity and tautness that often accompanies expectation. This is because expectation involves being severely attached to a certain outcome, which when denied causes agitation, instability and disorientation.

Going with a science theme today, the image below is a representation of what molecules look like in the three states of matter.

The three states of matter

The three states of matter

The way that matter changes from one state to another, to put it simplistically, is through molecular motion (a sort of vibration/agitation) that eventually becomes strong enough to break/loosen the forces holding the molecules together. I think that this mirrors the sort of agitation we feel when we had a solid expectation that something is going to happen and then it doesn’t. One might even say, “I have reached my boiling point.” That rigidity and the attachment to a specific outcome is forced loose, and depending on whether the expectation was positive or negative, the result is either disappointment or relief. It is the Universe’s way of working out the knots in our shoulders and saying, “loosen up”. It is a way to remind us to return to our decided nature.

Fluidity is the state of freedom

Findings of a study by NASA (stay with me here), indicated that the universe is continually and infinitely expanding at an accelerated speed. That means that our galaxy (the Milky Way), like all other galaxies, is not floating in a single spot in space, but is in fact moving. Our entire solar system, located within the Milky Way galaxy, also orbits its center, just like the planets orbit the sun, which incidentally, also rotates on its own axis. Now to my point – the universe, demonstrably, not only favors motion and fluidity but also, is by nature constantly fluid and in motion. This nature is also reflected in the four elements – fire, water, air and earth. Contemplate what a tongue of fire looks like, a wave, the wind, an earthquake…

fluidity in nature

fluidity in nature

Circling back to my favorite phrases, “as above, so below” and “on earth, as it is in heaven”, I argue that we, as children of the universe, must also seek to align ourselves with this fluid nature. Fluidity is the state of freedom. Lack of freedom is not only restricted movement, but also the imprisonment of the mind, heart or soul – the inability to adopt new ideas or see different perspectives, the inability to express an emotion or the worst kind – being captive in the state of a sleeping consciousness. Fluidity allows for flexibility and the awareness that absolute control is an illusion. Not only that, fluidity frees us from the jaws of personal disappointment as well as from poisoning our relationships with unfair expectations that render us demanding and overbearing.

Our only duty is to plant the seed of intention

With expectation, it’s easy to get caught up in how exactly you would like your desire to come to life. This can be based on previous experiences, fantasies, observation or hearsay about how it has happened for other people. While Divine Order promises that everything is exactly as it should be, it is important to note that uniformity is not part of that package. For one, that would make life dull and we know that the universe is anything but dull, and God does like to work in mysterious ways. Expectations, on our part, limit the Deity’s expression of Himself. Our only duty, in cases where factors are beyond our control, is to plant the seed of intention and then hope for the best. Note that the seed of intention is not the same as the seed of desire. The seed of intention says, “I choose or I will” while the seed of desire says, “I want”. There is nothing inherently wrong with the seed of desire. It is only that if you subscribe to the universal laws, (the law of attraction in particular), you will find that “I choose” attracts what you have chosen, while “I want” attracts more want.

Plant the seed of intention

Plant the seed of intention

Hope is the better alternative

Hope is perhaps the more laid back, and arguably better alternative to expectation. With hope, there is no illusion of control. Hope acknowledges reality – the fact that we only have so much influence and the possibility that our desires might not be met – but it does not resign itself to what is. Instead, it acknowledges that there is a higher power at play with better interests at heart than our own. Therefore, when those desires are not met, our energy remains calm and trusting in this higher power’s timing and intention. When the desires are met, we are able to show gratitude, which not only raises our vibrations and makes us happier and more positive, but also helps attract more things to be grateful for.

Happiness is allowing yourself to be okay with what is, rather than wishing for, and bemoaning, what is not. Obviously, what is, is what is supposed to be, or it would not be. The rest is just you, arguing with life.

Neale Donald Walsch


About author

Wanjiru Ndung'u

Wanjiru Ndung'u writes fiction, poetry and essays. She is an irretrievable night owl, tea-lover and cat mom. She enjoys books, alternative music, movies and streaming shows.

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