I’ve been following Gretchen Rubin’s happiness project blog for some time now, thinking, “yes, I should my own happiness project.” I’ve given so much time and effort to reading and thinking about happiness, and I think I’ve even made some progress, but the real commitment is writing about it. If I commit my insights to type, I learn them more completely than if I let them swim around in the nebulous gray matter upstairs.
Some of the key things I’ve learned but need to write about to solidify are things I learned at The Option Institute (thanks to my beautiful and generous big sister who gave me the best birthday present ever, sending me there last year for an incredible program called “Revitalize Your Spirit.”) Others are from books I’ve read, blogs I’ve perused, or lightbulb moments born of my own epiphanies. So today is a start.
Someone I used to work with posted a note on Facebook about praise in relationships as they relate to expectations. His assertion was that we (women) need to be very specific with our mates about what we expect in terms of “payment” (i.e. praise) for our “work.” I always found disagreeing with this guy to be painful, so I chose not to disagree in such a public forum. Instead I have been giving more thought to the concept of letting go of expectations altogether. As a child, I was spoon-fed on praise. I even remember finding the hardest thing about finishing school being that I no longer had “I got an ‘A'” moments to wrangle an “I’m so proud of you” out of my parents. That was a learned expectation – getting approval depends on doing something praiseworthy.
When we expect, we set ourselves up for disappointment. We are no longer doing what we do for any reason other than what we expect others to say or do in return. What is the payoff for cleaning a toilet? Do I really need someone to say “thank you” for that? Or can I simply enjoy that it’s clean for the very simple reason that I prefer using a clean toilet? It’s a simple example of a complex problem.
I know I need to let go of my expectations and simply be in the moment. Do for the sake of doing. Love for the sake of loving. What the universe returns to me is simply a happy by-product of the positive energy I put into it.
Another topic I need to explore, related to this one, is taking responsibility for my own happiness. Choosing beliefs that suit me better than the ones that lead to unhappy responses. More to come.