The Greatest Expectation

What do you expect I would write? About Charles Dickens’ classic, “Great Expectations”? Haha, nah! Rather, let’s talk about something that we have to face everyday. =)

You see, everyday, we build our lives around expectations, all sort of them. Shortly after switching on the heater, we expect our shower to be warm. If we are going out, we expect the weather to be fine. When we study and prepare for exams, we expect ourselves to do well, get those top-notch grades. When there is a gathering, we expect people to turn up on time. (And ironically, when you are late, secretly expect the rest to be too.) When we plant, we expect a great produce. When parents raise their children, they expect, for most of them, their children to take care of them just like how they did, when the time comes. Even when you hi-five your friend, you expect your friend to hi-five you back, or when you smile at a random stranger, there is at least a tiny hope that the stranger will smile back at you.

You get the picture. =)

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Being unable to avoid such expectations in life, we then choose to react in two different ways:

  • To expect just the good things, or
  • To expect the bad things to happen.

The first one can be labeled as optimism. It’s okay. It’s gonna be alright. We can do it! We are gonna win! In the end, everything will be fine. Life is worth living for. To expect things to turn out just great, makes life a little better, happier, more enjoyable, hopeful and beautiful. Sounds like the choice? But not so fast, it is not easy to be purely optimistic, I have one bestie who is a pure optimist and I admire her mental strength for it. Why? Because I am a partial optimist too, and sometimes it is harder to be optimistic because when you expect the good but when the bad comes out instead, you receive a blow. Ouch.

So most of us choose the other one instead, pessimism. I am gonna flunk the test. I am gonna fail my life. We are doomed. We are all going to die. You lost? Expected. Gone case. Sounds familiar? It’s like much easier when you expect just the horrible things to happen, then things don’t turn out as bad as you expected, you can console yourself. But really, think about it. The outcome hasn’t appear, yet you are already torturing yourself and others around you. We make ourselves depressed and bring all around us down too. And perhaps, when we practice pessimism persistently, it will become deep-seated and our lives will be living hell. Thoughts lead to words and actions. When you expect bad things to happen, how can great, wonderful things can happen?

What are we going to do then? Optimism helps, but it might hurt from time to time and when it causes hurt, it hurts real bad. Pessimism isn’t the way either. But there is the third solution.

The best expectation is to expect nothing at all.

It doesn’t mean you don’t care about any outcome anymore, therefore don’t give a crap about life. It’s about just doing your best, and giving your best in everything you do, and that’s it. Whatever happens will happen. You don’t need to unnecessarily expect what cannot be expected or what cannot be controlled. Just do what you can, then detach. What for, suffer for something that will happen naturally and will happen anyway. You have done your best, so without regrets, you walk on from what have resulted. You are free, you are no longer enslaved to expectations.

There you go, you can choose. Optimism? Pessimism? Practicality? Or maybe you can get more creative, like mix them around, practical optimism. Or balance each of them everyday. Your life, your call!


27th November 2011