Wednesday, 20 February 2013


           Such a lovely day on the seaside... Sunshine, light breeze, sounds of sea, seaguls and distant traffic. It's delicious to sit on a bench in the sunshine and just be. This moment is complete, no where to rush, nothing to plan, there is peace and sense of deep joy of being alive, heart is wide open, streaming love.

Before seeing that "my self" was imagined I had glimpses into this gorgeousness of just being, but they were fleeting and short, mind would start wandering and get lost in images of future. Now I can sit and just be, without getting sucked in to the storyland.

This peace and delight is underneath all thinking, available any time. But to get here one needs to leave all thinking, problems, expectations just the same way as we leave shoes entering our house. You may say that it's easier said then done and of course, you are right. Because even though mind is seeking peace, it threatens it. As if that would mean an end to the stream of thoughts, the death of the narrator.

The biggest obstacle for seeing this moment AS IT IS are expectations. The shoulds and shouldn'ts, wants and don't wants, musts, needs and other weeds. These thoughts have a pull and once they arrive they have power to drag one in to a story and -puff- the peace is lost.

Mind creates expectations as this is what it's used to do. It's a habit, everyone has expectations, plans for the future and ideals to seek. If you don't have goals and expectations, there must be something wrong with you, right? It's so engrained in our heads, that its not even possible to raise this question- do we need expectations at all? In daily ordinary activities, in practical sense, are expectations useful?

What would it be like to live without expectations, have you wandered? Well, first thing I notice there is no more tension and constant need to get somewhere. The rush is gone, thoughts about time no longer feels like pressure. All that needs to be done gets done at the right time, no later or earlier. With that all thoughts about what someone else will think, if I do not deliver, are gone too. There is no more judgement and excuses, that used to run the show in this mind. Mind no longer creates future scenarios where it looks for solutions to imagined problems, what ifs. It doesn't even go there, as this exercise does not add to experience, only takes focus into the dreamland and is seen as futile.

I used to have nightmares: in my dreams I would see people sitting and waiting for me to do something they expect and me rushing to do what they ask and dreading that there is not enough time... If I can not meet their expectations (which are not even mine) then there comes a heavy feeling of guilt.. I'm not enough, I should be different, I need to try harder, I must improve my-self... Aaaaa, where is escape?! Where is the Exit sigh??

All house of suffering is built of unfulfilled expectations.

All search for freedom is built on expectations, that once we get "there", life is going to be so light and easy, so rosy and blissful, that we will be happy forever and ever. Seeking is based on expectations to find peace, by trying to fix something that is not as it should be. Resistance stops as expectations drop and openness is noticed. Seeking and expectations are one process driven by the belief, that something needs to happen on order to be happy now. One can live in a paradise and not notice that, if mind is constantly dreaming about something else.

The only thing that needs to happen is spring cleaning of the head from all those precious expectations. It's really simple- notice them as they arise, see how they hold an image of how it should be in contrast with HOW IT IS. See where they come from- your mum, your family, partner, kids, boss, community, bank manager... Are these expectations really yours? Do you expect to meet these expectations? What happens if you don't?

Of course the tension that is felt is here because of fear, that expectations won't be met. The feelings of sadness, regret, shame, guilt, blame, anger, desperation, hopelessness, wish to die are all close friends of expectations. With letting go of wants, shoulds and shouldn'ts triggers are released too. No more expectations, no more fear that they won't be met, no more resistance to what is here now.

The mother of all expectations is hope. It's a glorified expectation, that tomorrow will be better then today. It's a thought about future that gives birth to expectations. Hope is something that humans have. And yes, it's very nice to see when in stories and movies hopes come true and there is happy ending. But hope is the mother of fools, there is a saying in Lithuania. The more you hope, the less you see what is here now, that can be appreciated right this moment. And it's not really about practising appreciation, but opening the door for it to flow freely. Aaa, it feels so good just to be, the smile breaks and joy tickles- that feeling.

Expectations are like clouds that cover the sunshine of living this moment fully.

If you expect, that unwanted emotions should no longer be felt, then it's saying NO to these feelings when they come up and saying no to experiencing them fully. It's all part of life and freedom to live fully, to experience whatever presents itself without thinking that it should be different - is priceless. Freedom to experience, freedom to feel, to express, to love is already here. Just look behind the curtain of expectations. Well if you expect to see just the happy side, that too is a prison.

The easy steps to drop expectations:

1. Write all of them down.
What do you expect from......?
What you don't expect from........?
What do you want from.....?
What you don't want from......?

2. Dig deeper, find the hidden expectations and write them down too. Open up with whole honesty.

3. Read what you wrote and let this sink in. Let it all be OK. Acknowledge that these expectations are running in the system.

4. Take a look in your experience right now, is anything really missing?

5. Realise that nothing is ever happening the way you imagine it would, that life goes on regardless of how you expect it to go. Check if you have control over what is happening and when.

6. See if you need all those expectations or if its OK to let them all go. Take a closer look, if expectations are useful. See if anything would be lost if those expectations would drop. Write all that comes up. When you write, mind focuses and is forced to look closer.

And if this does not have an expected effect, you may bring your precious expectations to the forum and work with someone through them until there is shiny clarity.

Just like weeds in the garden, the sneaky expectations may come back. Don't let them ruin the show. :)


  1. "Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder." Thoreau

    There is a Vietnamese proverb, "Tri tuc, tien tuc, dai tuc, ha thoi tuc." That means, settling for "good enough" is enough. If we wait until all our needs and wants are met, we may wait forever. "Tri tuc" means "good enough." "Good enough" means being content with the minimum amount necessary. Your shirt and pair of shoes can last another year. It's all right for three or four people to share a desk for studying, there's no need for each to have her own desk. Settling for "good enough" in terms of simple living will bring us contentment, satisfaction, and happiness immediately. As long as we think our lives are not good enough [materially], we will not have happiness. As soon as we realize our lives are good enough, happiness immediately appears. That is the practice of contentment.

    In Vietnam there's a school of Buddhism called the Four Gratitudes. Just by practicing gratitude, we can find happiness. We must be grateful to our ancestors, our parents, our teachers, our friends, the Earth, the sky, the trees, the grass, the animals, the soil, the stones. Looking at the sunlight or at the forest, we feel gratitude. Looking at our breakfast, we feel grattitude. When we live in the spirit of gratitude, there will be much happiness in our life. The one who is grateful is the one who has much happiness while the one who is ungrateful will not be able to have happiness.

    Two Treasures: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening & True Happiness

    Thich Nhat Hanh

  2. Probably the most significant thing I ever found is the book: Happiness Is A Choice by Barry Kaufman [] in which we are taught to allow or choose happiness whenever and wherever we can despite what is going on in our life in that moment. Choosing to BE happy has nothing to do with possessions, accomplishments, gifts, praise, money, health or anything beyond or outside of my own mind and power to decide and choose. The teachings in the book are not mystical, magical or mysterious. The power and decision to be happy right now, just as I am, is the whole teaching in that book. It is further said that, if I am not "happy", I can at least NOT BE unhappy! I take that to mean that I can at least choose to be NEUTRAL in a situation where total happiness is not available (stopped by the cops, scolded by my boss). The methods for choosing or allowing happiness seem to be many but very few of them refrain from finding some thing or condition upon which to base one's happiness. Just wanting to be happy is about all I need thanks to Barry's teachings.

  3. Thank you. Very, very helpful article.