Expectation shapes experience.
I start each day with a prayer of thanks, and with an attitude of gratitude, I look for the good throughout the day. I seek the beauty that I might otherwise overlook in an ordinary day. I see it in my home and my neighbourhood, on the way to work, in my wife and children, my patients and friends.
And I look for opportunities to make the world a little better and a little happier each day.
Expectations can surprise you.
At a Chinese New Year’s dinner, my kids shared a box of brightly wrapped candies. Each was labeled with Chinese writing which none of us could read.
They were repeatedly surprised by their flavours. My son said that his candy didn’t taste at all like the fruit on the wrapper. When my daughter first bit into a yellow square, she said it first tasted kind of lemony, but ultimately she admitted that Sponge Bob tastes bad.
At a Boxing Day party, my aunt accidentally used salt instead of sugar for her cake, but no one was more surprised than my other aunt, who discovered that my uncle had politely eaten a whole piece.
Friends can surprise you. That would be great if it’s a surprise party. It’s not so great when a friend disappoints or dumps you.
Expectations can disappoint you.
When life is sailing smoothly, we can take it for granted and expect nothing to change, but when the wind changes and a storm ensues, we’re blown away. When we work hard and expect what we deserve but don’t get it, we feel miserable. When we get sick, have accidents and run into a trend of bad luck, we protest the unfairness of it all.
People expect life to be fair, and when it’s not they feel let down. People hope that life will be perfect when they get what they want, but it rarely is and they grumble more.
If life is a game where the object is to get ahead and get as much as we want, we are all ultimate losers. We will lose all the money we earn and all the things we buy, and we will lose all that we love, because we will someday die.
Change your expectations; change your life.
My mom taught me the secret to a meaningful life: give more than you get.
She committed herself to her family, friends and community. She seized every opportunity to make the world better for others through her volunteer work for our church and her seniors centre, through thoughtful gifts and cards, comforting words, a helping hand, and countless not so random acts of kindness.
Her life was rich not in a material way but in her connections with others. Now nearly 12 years since she died, I continue to hear how she touched others and was loved by them.
This was her secret to happiness: not to hoard the good things in life or hope for a perfect world, but to give the good from your own heart to make this a better world for others.
If you’re ready to take a fresh look at life, question self-limiting beliefs and discover enduring happiness, join me in “A Hundred Days to Happiness.” Since February 1st, I’ve been sharing the insights I’ve learned from my patients, friends and family. Each day, I will post one new insight on facebook.com/davidicus.wong, twitter.com/DrDavidicusWong and my blog, davidicuswong.wordpress.com.