Expectations

Danger Expectations
“I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path.” -Dalai Lama

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about expectations. Having done some reading over the past couple of years on the topic of Buddhism, I am familiar with the concepts of right view and wrong view. Right view is when we see things simply, as they are. It is an attitude of openness, where anger and fear almost fade away completely. The opposite of this is wrong view; a view that is characterized by expectations. Expectations (usually unmet) of how we wish things to be, and fear of what might be.

I have realized that when my rheumatoid arthritis is quite active and times are rough, I’ve begun to adopt a mentality of right view. When I go to sleep at night, instead of creating my list of things to do for the following day, I tell myself that I will only do whatever I can do, and that I will be happy with that. It took me years to reach this place, all too often I continued to try to push through the limitations of my disability…but now I know the happiness of savoring my daily actions, even then they are “limited” to taking a bath, dressing myself, and walking from room to room around the house.

Over the past month, as my body has been doing much better than usual, I have found myself returning to the wrong view. I start imagining all of the things that I should be doing (where the heck that voice pops up from, I do not know), and I attempt to do them. I start to once again push myself too hard, and I begin to lose the pleasure of enjoying simple things.

Just this morning, as I was at the gym lifting weights, my joints started flaring up one by one. (I think this was due not to anything I have been doing physically, but instead because of a considerable temperature drop that took place today as the southern hemisphere moves into winter.) My first thought was to pack up and go home right away, but then I had a second thought. Instead of using “real” weights, I’d work out instead with those brightly-colored dumbbell weights that weigh only a few pounds each. In the past I would have felt ashamed (as I was not meeting expectations); this morning I was happy to just be moving.

My 88-year-old grandmother passed away a couple of days ago. When I spoke with my grandfather the following morning, he told me how he wished that she had lived to reach their 70th wedding anniversary, which was only a few months away. He quickly caught what he was saying, and then told me that we should all be happy with what we’re given. That we need to focus on what we do have, and not on what we don’t have.

They weren’t married 70 years…but they were married 69 years and 8 months. In my opinion, that’s still quite a feat!

Happy with what we’re given. No expectations. This is certainly not the type of life that I have lead in the past, but it’s definitely nice to be living this kind of life at the moment.

May my grandmother rest in peace.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

12 Comments
12 comments
  1. Jackie says:

    Wisdom is a great perk that goes along with getting older. After experiencing an almost remission of my RA for a few years, it has recently returned giving me time to think (worry) about the future. I remind myself often…worrying about the future robs me of today. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is uncertain, today is a gift…which is why it’s called the “present”.

    What a gift you have been given from your Grandparents…a legacy of love, commitment and perseverance!

  2. Delia says:

    Thank you! my husband always pushes to the limit because he feels he “HAS TO”. I will have him read this RAGuy.

  3. Laurie says:

    So sorry to hear about your Grandmother.
    Living in the moment and doing what we physically can do is a gift. Enjoy it because tomorrow and all the other tomorrows will be different. Somedays we can be happy just to get out of bed, somedays we have to rest more, it’s a matter of listening to your body.

  4. Krista says:

    This is so relevant to me right now, it is as though you are a mind reader! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Phillip says:

    This is a horroble desise!!!!!my beatiful EX meaner has had it for over 15 years she has not had a day in all of those years where she felt good ,not a single day with out pain,gets very little sleep because of all the meds and pain yet she keeps going ..just had all 4 fingers removed and silicon knuckles put inThen fingers back on she has beenIN server pain she takes onlypain med to ease it to take enough to make her pain free will make her loopie and she had rather hurt than be out of it thats where we differ id take so much id feel nothing even if i couldnt function Please keep Her in your prays ..shes awounderful person akind heart and would do anything for anyone needing anything,,, But now with this she feels so helpless its unreal at the things she does even if it means hurting…

  6. Wellescent RA Forums says:

    Sorry for the loss of your Grandmother.

    It is certainly important to keep in mind what we have in the present instead of being miserable because of what we don’t have. That said, pushing ourselves is also of benefit as long as we don’t make ourselves miserable in the process. My grandfather is 93 now and just decided that we was getting too old to mow the lawn. When I asked him why he didn’t stop sooner, he said that for him it was important just to make the effort.

  7. Cathy says:

    I am glad this last month has been kinder to you RA Guy. Does that mean my happy thoughts for you are working?

    Your grandpa sounds very wise. I read this post earlier this today and I have been thinking on what he said throughout the day. I was feeling a little blue earlier and this thought has brought me out of it a bit as I have reflected on all that I have been given. I should be happy.

    I am so sorry to hear about your grandma. Losing someone special is very hard.

  8. Velveteen says:

    my therapist keeps working with me on this letting go of expectations thing and it is a relief when you are able to but wow, in this society it is very very very difficult. thanks for sharing.

  9. SKRDad says:

    Sounds like you are finding a good place to be… Your grandfather is very wise…

    I have been battling the RA Monster for going on 5 years. My problem is that as a father of 3, a husband and the primary bread winner, I can never just be happy with what I am given. Getting out of bed may be a “win” some days, but somehow I still get myself ready and get to work. Somedays, even I don’t really know how I do it. But do I really have a choice?… There expectations must win out…

    My mother believes things always happen for a reason. She sincerely believes this burden is my opportunity to be a better me. She told me it would either make me bitter or better… Then she looked deep into my eyes and said “I don’t see bitter in there”… I am not so sure, but I strive for better with every breath…

    Be well…

  10. Lene says:

    so sorry about your grandmother. What a lesson your grandfather gave you – he sounds like an amazing man.

    I’ve also found Buddhism to be very meaningful practice during tough times. I don’t practice as much when things are easier, but keep meaning to. Your post was a reminder that I need to stop meaning to and start doing.

    Michael J Fox once said “My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.” those are wise words – every time I get stuck in expectations, I start getting unhappy.

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