"Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there with open arms and open eyes. Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there."
Are you showing up every day with open arms and open eyes?
This might just be one of the biggest day-to-day challenges we all face. Can we face every single day open to what it may bring? I’m not suggesting we don’t plan and organize what we already know. There’s a certain structure we must keep in place for an effective life, but I really think one of the greatest graces we can embrace is to take not only the gifts, celebrations, and amazements of life but the challenges, heartaches, and disappointments too.
I don’t care if you are the most positive person in the world, you have been disappointed. You have bad days. You punch things. I don’t think I am just projecting here. Give me a hallelujah (or even a thumbs up) if you can relate. It is said that our suffering is rooted in unfulfilled expectation. I believe this to be true, but in many ways, so too is our enjoyment.
Our standards for life and our expectations go hand-in-hand. Understand that our expectations are an expression of our standards placed on others, something that we cannot control. Of course, there are times when others need to live up to a standard to continue in our lives or in our employ. That is a topic for another (as of yet unwritten) conversation. How can we open our arms, eyes, and hearts to whatever the experiences of the day bring?
First things first. It starts with you.
Below are some tips for opening up to the wonders of each day, tempering the sting of missed expectation.
- Know your values. Until you know your purpose, standards and values, it may be hard make choices aligned to the best version of you. In fact, without this, any sustained personal growth is nearly impossible.
- Choose wisely. I know we all have our secrets, our vices, our skeletons. Set yourself up for success. Surround yourself with the people and environment that support your best-ness (yes that’s a word.) Reduce the risk of negative experiences by living well, loving well, and just being a person of compassion and character. I’ve learned the hard way. Contrary to belief, a well-aligned life is fun.
- Acknowledge unmet expectations. Sometimes necessity requires addressing another’s mismatched expectations, but recognizing that people don’t usually intend to hurt us helps reduce the bitterness we experience. Taking a page from Paulo Coelho, “take nothing personally”. With only a few exceptions (narcissistic behavior), another’s actions that don’t meet our standards are their own expression of their experiences and the meaning we take from their actions are an expression of ours.
- Recognize what triggers us. Building on the previous tip, when we react strongly to an experience, it reflects a personal tender spots. Most likely, every time we bump this bruise, we will react until we learn to recognize the trigger and work to release the underlying meaning we’ve cast upon it. I am not saying strong feelings, negative or positive, are bad, but we are well served to recognize them and act on them constructively.
- Live constructively. Again building on the previous item, taking a constructivist approach to our lives puts us in a place that acknowledges the gifts in any experience. There is always something to learn from every experience no matter how we judge it. Too often we perseverate or ruminate on negative experiences, reliving the emotion and tying the episode to, and magnifying self-doubts we already carry. Instead, recognize that the experience we expected wasn’t meant for us in that moment. We can also evaluate how we can improve our life through our thoughts, beliefs and actions to experience it differently moving forward.
In my life, through the good and the bad, I have learned so much and grown exponentially once I opened up to the gifts of the day. I no longer say things like, “just my luck” in a negative context. If I experience it, it is truly my fortune to have the new opportunity to be better, and better I will be.
If you find yourself struggling with this, please reach out. I am glad have a conversation to explore with you. It is my mission to help others bring the best of themselves to the world every day.