After many years of focusing on developing expectations- followed by an equal amount of years sent dealing with the disappointments – I believe I found the middle road:
I simply have no expectations.
Actually- that’s not entirely true-
I do have expectations–
I expect everything to come out wrong.
I never expect people to be on time, to tell the truth, to actually care about anything other than themselves, to be lazy, to be unwilling to learn anything new that demands them to change habits they’ve come accustomed to -although those habits are evidently harming them-
I expect every trip (back when there were such a things as “trips”) to be a disaster, every plan I make to fail, every conversation to be boring, every idea to end in the “I wish I did that” bin-
I think you get the idea.
“that’s terrible!” you probably think.
“this person probably suffers from chronic depression! never goes out of bed! and why would she? she never sees anything good only disasters run through her head all the time!”
Quite the opposite actually!
I think I’ve mastered the art of being happily pessimistic.
This is not my invention, you know.
Seneca, the great roman philosopher- stated that :”one should hope for that which is just, and prepare himself for that which is utterly unjust”, or in other words:make yourself at home with the worst case scenario.
Here are 2 links to “the school of life” explaining in human language what stoicism is .
How this works is:
#1. Something happens- or is about to happen.
Clearer example: I buy something. that can be anything- from groceries to household stuff, to yoga pants.
My regular reaction: anticipation. “oh those yoga pants are going to look great on me! they’l change my life! once I wear them everything will be OK !” (I am exaggerating. (no I’m not)).
Stuff arrives: not as expected. example: some of the tomatoes are too ripe. yoga pants fit- but there is the butt issue. slippers are a tad too tight. I think you get the picture.
*Mind you there is no need to mention that my life looks small , I am well aware, but I can tell you I had a “socially acceptable productive life” for 50 years- I like my current style much better.
Automatic reaction: getting annoyed. OK-let’s face it- angry. “that’s outrageous!” nothing gets done right!” “what has become of this world!”. heart rate goes up. stress levels go up as well. I immediately look for something to eat. because of stress- nothing really tastes that good. I regret eating it.
The stoic scenario: I order stuff- groceries, apparel, household stuff.
I take into consideration :defects, late arrival, missing items, bad fitting.
Being a pessimist -you just need to release your true inner self and worst case scenarios just fly by.
I expect those worst case scenarios+ I accept them.
I choose whether to make a plan B right away- or wait to see the actual results- and then use my plan B. either way- I accept that a plan B will have to be used.
Stuff arrives : as expected- 25% missing/bad fitting etc.
Stoic reaction: (smile to myself-I was right again!)–“OK, that was to be expected.this was not done intentionally. these days supermarkets work double shifts because -well you know why- and I know to expect 20-25% damages/missing items.as for yoga pants- passing the crucial age of 45- gravitation is a much more prominent force in my life. I am well aware of that, expecting some pants to overcome forces of nature discovered by Newton- well that’s simply not realistic”.
Dealing with the situation the stoic way: I write immediately to customer service, get credited for tomatoes. or better yet- make a super tasty tomato soup from them.
*quickest tomato soup- dice onions and garlic, into pan with a drizzle of olive oil, dice carrots, celery, said tomatoes, herbs: freshly ground pepper, salt, cumin, parley, coriander, nut meg? don’t forget a sprinkle of sugar- that’s because of the tomatoes acidity- I mean a sprinkle- 1/4 tsp -not more- the soup doesn’t need to be sweet -it needs to be savory! a small can of tomato concentrated sauce- omit if you feel passionate about it being preservative free- I totally agree on the attitude- but tomato soup required -in my opinion- 1/4 cup tomato sauce to get to the right consistency. add veggie soup or boiling water and let simmer for 50 minutes. while waiting wash dishes +dust the house and vacuum it- this way when you sit down to eat- you’l feel like a queen. (king). If you feel like it- add rice or pasta- not too much- towards the end of cooking. minestrone style.
Should everything turn out great- all groceries arrive, yoga pants lift high and above-
In usual scenario– I keep on going as if nothing extraordinary has happened.
In stoic scenario– I rejoice in jubilation. “wow! that’s great! I have all the tomatoes and apples I need, and my rear end looks great too!I’m so happy- this is a good day!”
I asked myself yesterday- when standing in a crosswalk waiting for traffic to stop and let me cross–
Do I stand there expecting every car to stop and let me pass- thus getting more and more upset if people ignore me- and indifferent if they stop-or do I expect everyone to be engaged in their own thoughts -thus taking into account a period of idle standing time, and being super pleased and wave a thanks for anyone who stops?
I am working on getting to option #2: because it is a known fact that stress can spike your cortisol levels- meaning those yoga pants won’t fit. again.
Enjoy- the cooliflower.