I’m going to take a wild guess that in the last few days something or someone has frustrated you, or made you upset, or maybe even depressed. Perhaps it was some really horrendous traffic on the drive to work. Or, maybe the fact that you’ve been feeling a cold coming on.
What these two examples have in common is an underlying assumption, the assumption and expectation that things ought to NOT be the way they currently are, in that given situation.
For instance, the frustration that generally occurs from really bad traffic is an unspoken assumption that NORMALLY, it should not be so terrible. That is why you’re frustrated and pissed off. And likewise, if you start thinking about the dismal state of the current economy, and that leads you to be upset and depressed, that is the result of an expectation that THIS ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THE WAY THE COUNTRY WORKS. DAMMIT, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? THIS IS DREADFUL. THIS IS NOT NORMAL.
Yet, such things in life that could be considered “bad” or “negative,” but at the same time are just given facts of life (such as the fact that we all will eventually die or that the weather gets really cold during winter), do not upset us. Why? Because of course, it’s normal, WE EXPECT IT.
But back to the main idea, why do we make assumptions and expectations about life at all? Why do we feel, in an existence largely out of our control, that things ought to be a certain way?
The answer I believe, is that there is no answer. It’s fundamentally insanity, delusional thinking, and completely subjective.
For the sake of demonstration, let’s say we hypothetically lived in a world where no one ever had to go to the restroom, that the waste produced in our bodies just magically disappeared. But, then suddenly one day you started having the urge to use the bathroom. Well, you’d probably go: DAMMIT WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? THIS ISN’T WHAT MY LIFE IS SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE. GOD, THIS IS SUCH A WASTE OF TIME.
Do you see what I mean? Any assumptions about the outside world is largely delusional because these thoughts exist solely in our subjective minds, and not in reality. And more than anything, if there’s one thing we CAN ASSUME, it’s that everything changes. Each moment, every millisecond that passes, everything is changing. Everything is aging, evolving, devolving, combining, expanding, etc. No two moments or seconds are ever the same.
So, how strange is it then that we expect things to be a certain way, when one of the fundamental realities of life is change. And the biggest insanity perhaps of all is when we firmly expect things out of other human beings, who are of course just as strangely complex and contradictory as we are.
Unfortunately, the real tragedy of this confusion is that we often viciously rub at the negative scabs that sometimes appear on our skin; something bad or unfortunate may happen and we then sometimes internalize this circumstance by becoming angry or driving it even deeper by getting depressed about life. All because we EXPECT differently (conscious of this or not).
Obviously, there are certain predictions and general assumptions that have to be made in order to make life manageable, and to make relationships between humans strong. Such as, you expect that car you just bought to not be stolen tomorrow. And that’s a fine assumption to make. Just as predicting that a really good friend would call you back after leaving them an urgent voice message. That’s a sound general expectation.
But, why DEEPLY expect that? Why deeply expect anything? If you’re going to have assumptions about life at all, why have them with a capital A?
If you don’t assume or presume anything about this existence, then when the bad things happen (which they always will) you won’t have to freak out or let it emotionally disrupt your sense of wellbeing. And at the same token, when the good things occur (which they always do), they will be pleasant surprises.
I’ll conclude this post with a simple, yet provocative thought:
Perhaps, the more we expect out of life, the less joyful we actually end up being.