We all have expectations of how things are supposed to happen. Looking back on my life, I can honestly say that a lot of my heartache and disappointment is due to failed expectations that I set for myself or others around me. I focused so hard on what I hoped would happen that I failed to appreciate the journey. And when things didn’t work out as planned, I got down on myself and often took it out on others. I missed my opportunity for some awesome, joyful moments because I was caught up in the shortcomings.
Last weekend, I had the crazy idea to fly to Kaua’i with my 3 daughters to surprise my Mom for Mother’s Day. I personally love surprises and I thought she would enjoy seeing her granddaughters. We were so excited and in my mind’s eye, I had pictured something like a Publisher’s Clearinghouse commercial where the lady in her bathrobe would come to the door and be totally surprised and overjoyed to see visitors pulling up to her house. Well. Well. Well. Was I ever wrong. Let me just say that it didn’t turn out quite like I had envisioned. My Mom was less than thrilled to see us at first. Turns out, she’s not a fan of big surprises. Obviously we have very different ideas about this. I felt embarrassed, hurt, confused, disappointed and almost resentful. We almost left her house without seeing her. She eventually came around and the rest of our short, twenty-four hour trip was wonderful. We spent time together. That was really all I wanted. Three generations of our family, just enjoying each other’s company.
The joy that I felt seeing my daughters laugh and play while completely carefree was enough to remind me that no matter what a disaster my surprise was, I had to appreciate all the good that happened. Whatever my Mom was going through was not my burden to bear. I love and appreciate her for all she has done for me. I am grateful for the time we spent together that day.
I learned a simple principle a few years ago and this was the perfect opportunity to put it into practice. When we trade our expectations for appreciation, life will be filled with a lot less heartache and disappointment and a lot more happiness and joy.