Possibility. . .

Without realizing it, your expectations may be undermining your happiness.

Without noticing it, many of us are suffering from the myriad ways in which expectations can undermine our days and ultimately our life. They hide in our busy life, causing us to be irritable, disappointed, and disillusioned. Many times they lead us to say unkind words, act unskillfully, or make poor decisions.What is most amazing is that despite the suffering caused by our expectations, we hardly notice them most of the time. Sure, there may be a few big ones we are somewhat aware of, but even so, we only sort of notice them.

Expectations are almost always the result of what in Buddhism is called “wanting mind.” This wanting mind is driven by desire, aversion, and anxiety; it creates an illusion of solidity and control in a world that is constantly changing and unfolds independently of how we believe it should. Knowing this, how does one proceed?

You always start with what is true in the present moment. You use discernment to know what is true, but you do not fall into judgment, which is yet another form of expectation and one of the worst. One distinction is critical for us to understand if we are to work with expectations: the difference between expectations and possibilities. Expectations assume a certain result and are future based. They actually narrow our options, limit our possibilities, and blind us to possibilities. They create pressure in our life and hold our present sense of wellbeing hostage to a future that may or may not happen. 

In contrast to expectations, possibilities are based in the present moment, where we’re alive to the moments and mysteries of life. We live as fully as we can in the present moment based on our values, which reflect our preferences for the future, but we do not assume that the future will come to pass, because we realize that the future is unknown. Our well-being is not contingent on the future. Our mind is open and inspired in this moment. We therefore have more access to imagination and intuition. Our mind is clear and less reactive, and we make better decisions.

We respond rather than react to life as it unfolds.

We may be surprised when we discover how much choice we have in letting go of expectations. There is nothing to be gained from a mind filled with expectation. But there is much to be gained by living out of our values with real effort and discipline. When we do this, we are showing up for what we value and discovering a sense of joy and ease that is independent of the conditions in our life.

That is possibility.

Peace and Love, Jim

#possibility #thedailybuddha

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