“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ― Alexander Pope
How to deal with disappointments
What I learnt from Thailand
The Buddha once said that, “expectations are the root to all suffering.” At first I thought it was just spiritual mumbo jumbo, until I went to Thailand (where Buddhism is practised by nearly everyone). I saw how happy and care-free the people of Thailand were and thought perhaps what the Buddha said was true.
I dug deeper into the culture and asked the locals a question; “how do you stay so happy?” One Thai man said to me, “Because the sun is shining.” I was amazed that the sun shining was enough to make him happy. Can you imagine how happy you would be if the sun shining was all it took? – Especially living in South Africa (we would be happy everyday)
Then I thought, imagine how often you would be happy if a sunrise was enough to make you happy? I asked myself, when last was I grateful for a sunrise, and I was devastated when I realised that I have never been grateful for a sunrise. It has always just been there, nothing special. I have been taking a simple sunrise granted for my whole life. The scary thing is, how much other things have I been taking for granted? My family? My friends? My health?
The first thing that I learnt from the Thai people is that you don’t have to have a lot to be happy. As simple as it sounds, you can just BE happy.
Expectations are the root to suffering
The expectations we set for ourselves are the only thing that could lead to disappointments. Only when you expect to get a raise, and you don’t get one, will you be disappointed. If you were not expecting that raise, you wouldn’t be disappointed. Worst of all, is that when we expect the raise and get it, we don’t appreciate it as much. Can you imagine walking into your boss’s office and he tells you, randomly, “you have worked so hard the last few months and I want to give you a raise.” How ecstatic would you feel? It would mean even more if you were not expecting it.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have expectations and goals in your life. Of course not. But the expectations we set for ourselves are the only thing that can lead to disappointment. If you are feeling disappointed more often than not, perhaps it is time to reflect on your expectations and ask yourself 2 questions;
- Is this a realistic expectation?
- If it is a realistic expectation, why am I not achieving it and how could I do better?
Life is too short to live in disappointments all the time. Change your perspective, change your life!