Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Great Expectations

I recently worked registration at a conference and witnessed the most amazing occurrence. We would check people in and then tell them to go to the table next to us to get their welcome gift. The welcome gift was in a silver foil wrapped box about five inches wide, an inch deep and ten inches long. It had an elegant black ribbon. Its size, shape, and color made it look just like a box of chocolates. I instantly thought it was chocolate, was thrilled and immediately disappointed when I shook it and it made no noise. It was also too light. My heart fell. I had no idea what actually was in the box, but I knew it wasn't chocolate and I was crushed.

Let's think about this - it could have been anything - money, tickets to a great show, a gorgeous leather portfolio, a lovely silk scarf - ANYTHING! But as soon as I knew it wasn't chocolate, I was disappointed.

Well, I thought, I'm a freak (Wally - are you reading?) - my world is seen through chocolate smeared glasses. My life is lived with questions like, "Will there be dessert?", "Are there cookies?", "If you don't want your dessert, can I have it?" All things are filtered through the potential they have to include chocolate.

But I have learned that I am not alone! Almost everyone when told of their welcome gift turned and saw the display of silver boxes and immediately their faces lit up and they exclaimed, "Is it chocolate?" The hope, the glee! When they were told no - they had the same reaction I did! Disappointment. Their faces fell, the light went out of their eyes. Now we had NO IDEA what fabulous thing the boxes might hold, but once we heard chocolate was out of the question, we were crushed, our hopes dashed.

Across gender, race, age - chocolate is adored! And the potential inside a wrapped box of chocolates brings excitement to everyone. Will there be nuts? Caramel? Dark or milk? What treats are within?

But here's the life lesson - if we had approached the box without expectation - just with the sheer joy that it was a gift, we would have kept our joy and not been disappointed. Expectation can kill joy. It is very hard to go through life without expectation (probably downright impossible) but the more often you can do it - the happier you will be. Don't expect people to know what you need from them - tell them. And then try not to expect them to respond. If they do, be grateful. Try not to expect that the cable man will be on time or that your computer will never crash. Lower your expectations and you'll be happier! And really try not to expect so much from yourself - ease up! Even you can't be perfect all the time.

We expected the food of the gods to be in those boxes and when it wasn't we were disappointed. We should have been dancing a jig that there was a gift at all! (It was a really nice leather portfolio, by the way). Walk in hope (that chocolate could be possible at any moment) but be open to all possibilities and grateful for whatever happens. As long as you're still breathing, there's always the potential for chocolate tomorrow!

1 comment:

Heidi said...

This blog is SO TRUE. Often I set up expectations and am let down, especially where my husband is concerned. There would be so much less angst in my life if I just accepted situations and people for what they are. Life would be so much more enjoyable, and others would not fall victim to my unfairly high standards. Thanks for the good food for thought -- no pun on chocolate intended!