It’s been a while (again) since I last wrote.
I’ve been away (again). After all, Leonardo da Vinci said,’ Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer’. I’ve merely dropped the ‘every’.
My mum once said to me that she worried about me because I ‘expected too much from life’. Given one should always listen to one’s mother, I had a good think about this and decided that she was almost certainly right. I’ve since reminded her of this and she now claims that she has been misquoted, but I’m going to stick with this because I like it, and I’m obviously still deeply rebellious.
The less you expect from life, the more likely you are to be surprised by the results. The more you expect, the more likely you are to be disappointed.
Modern media enables us to envision the trappings of the rich and famous. Our education system teaches us that almost anything is possible. Success is a universal goal. Every entrepreneur can be a Richard Branson with the right combination of hard work, luck and skill, so they say. Even the less talented can achieve the greatest heights – cue Liam Gallagher and Sarah Palin. How many people go through their teenage years expecting that, one day, they will be happy, rich, famous, satisfied? I’d guess quite a few. How many achieve all four? Not many.
Yet the less you expect, the more likely you are to be pleased with the results. I’ve learned, through listening to my mother to expect very little – which means that I constantly feel like things are going rather well. Yet I know others whose lives are much fuller than mine who are constantly disappointed because their actual life doesn’t live up to their exalted expectations.
I was once queuing up for a visit to No. 11 Downing Street for an event (yup, that was a bit of unashamed showing off, but it’s true and it sets the scene… so there). I remember looking over and seeing someone I knew who was still in their 20s who at the time was one of the most successful young entrepreneurs around. As an entrepreneur myself, I remember feeling a little envious of his success. Then, he noticed another entrepreneur who was more successful than he was and told me how envious he was of the other entrepreneur. Finally, perfectly on cue, the third entrepreneur spotted another entrepreneur who was THE most successful entrepreneur of the day in the UK and expressed his jealousy. There I was, sitting at the very bottom of a massive bundle of envy on what should have been a day when we all got more than we expected.
With that in mind, I’ve realised that the more you fantasize about what might be, the less you appreciate what is. As ‘ABC spirituality’ as it sounds, I try to enjoy what’s in front of me and expect a little less. I’ve been amazed at the difference it’s made to my mood, to my stress levels, to my enjoyment of things.