In layer 1, we started with ourselves, knowing who we truly are by embracing our uniqueness, our authentic and simplistic nature. In layer 2, we talked about happiness itself. By discovering its true origin within us, and redirecting our focus on embracing more of the inner happiness, which gives true joy, and reasons to be hopeful, optimistic, and happy regardless of life circumstances. Now, let’s look at layer 3, talking about how our desires and expectations could block or limit our joy, and happiness.
Desire by itself is not a bad thing. We all have desires. We have a desire for more money, a better job, go to new places, get new things and more. With all desires, the goal has always been to achieve and improve our survival, happiness, and success. Companies spent millions of dollars to create ads that will compete for your desire to crave for something they have. It’s so obvious that we are bombarded with Ads and notifications every day and everywhere. We see them on the roads as we drive, we get them as we are browsing on the internet, we get them as we are watching TV and more.
The challenge sets in when we struggle with identifying our TRUE desires. The desires that are not limited by external influences or harmful programming, whether coming from numerous Ads or mere imitation of others. As this happens, we find it difficult to properly manage our desires of wanting more, wanting specific things, and wanting something to complete us. As a result, the desires that we could have used to continue or magnify our happiness and joy will now eventually end up standing in the way of unleashing those wow moments.
As we are constantly exposed to the numerous Ads around us today, and we get brainwashed by them, our expectations tend to interfere with our desires as we set either very high or very low expectations for people, things, and society in general. We come to believe that things or people must do and behave in fixed ways, things must go according to our preconceived idea or assumptions. We also develop a state of desire I call “Conditional desire”, where we come to hold a strong belief that the conditions of life must change before we can gain happiness and joy. We envision things to go a certain way, and when that doesn’t happen, we think the moments have been ruined.
Four ways (DEED) we can manage our desires, and expectations so that they don’t serve as limiting factors to our joy:
1. Define your true desires. This has to do with distinguishing between NEEDS and WANTS and sticking to them. Let your true desires don’t be dictated by external influences. Your desires should be your ideas and not someone else’s ideas. Keeping up with the Joneses? Why not the Joneses keeping up with you? With the many available options craving for our desires, learn to save yourself some time and energy when navigating a culture of abundance by holding yourself as the most valuable option. As humans, we always want more because we have conditioned our brains to think that the more the better. As a result, we want more control, more perfection, more authority in addition to having a life, and the basic human needs such as food, water, sanitation, shelter, clothing, and love.
2. Expectation flexibility, expect the unexpected: Recognize what you have control over (like your attitude, thoughts, skills, reactions and more), and what you don’t have control over (like weather, others’ opinions, others’ mistakes, what people think of you and more). Don’t let your day be ruined due to what you have no control over. Expecting a sunny day but it ended up to be a rainy day? Accept it and enjoy the day. Even if you call it a yucky day it is not going to change what has been designed by a much higher supreme being who has control over you and the rain. Expecting a green dress, and you end up with a blue one? Return it, and don’t let that ruin your day, and after all your happiness must not depend on the color of a dress. Expecting a relaxing vacation in a well-organized place but didn’t happen? That’s someone’s attitude toward work or organizational skills, which you don’t have control over. As humans, we are all full of bundles of imperfections, and we make mistakes. Don’t let your obsession with perfection bring you frustration. Making mistakes is a sign that you are a human being, and that you are always ready to learn, and be creative.
Just as we are to get expectations, so we are to get a balance between those expectations. Your expectation can be like the teeterboard, supported by a pivot point located at the midpoint between both ends. As one end goes up, the other goes down. Have some expectations or add some weights to the teeterboard, but not too high and not too low. Too much weight or expectations on your side will stay you on the ground and no room to grow. Very light or no weight or expectation might lead to complacency or lack of effort. Expectations in the middle can swing both ways with flexibility, growth, and learning. Relax, and enjoy! certain things will flow smoothly, and others will struggle to flow.
3. Embrace unconditional happiness and joy: People and things must not limit your happiness. You are loved and valued unconditionally, so let your happiness be unconditional. Don’t wait for things or people to make you happy. Don’t wait to reach a certain point before you are happy. That doesn’t end, because we are always going to keep dreaming, and wanting more. That’s who and how we are by nature. We always want to move from “HERE” to “THERE”, and once we reach ‘there’, it becomes ‘here’ and we set new ‘There’, new goals, and expectations. You have the moments, make it memorable. The “Yesterday” is gone, the “Tomorrow‘ is not here yet, and you don’t have control over its outcome, but the “Now” is right here! Take it, live it, and give it the chance to leave you admirable and not miserable. The happiness from within is not influenced by our outside world.
Life is a journey. Don’t let your too much imagination of the destination take away the joy and beauty of your origination or purpose of embarking on the journey in the first place.
4. Doing self-check: Having time to reflect on WHAT you believe will create more happiness in your life and WHY you believe it. When you take the time to observe and check whether your desires are authentic or influenced by others, it can help you release desires that hold you back, and your consciousness level will increase. It’s about honestly finding answers to the following questions: What desires make you truly happy? Why do you believe that? Are the desires primarily influenced by others, the society or Ads? Are your True or Authentic desires different?
Finally, it is understandable that we find it difficult to control our desires, and we can’t control the inevitability of many occurrences in the midst of all that is going on in our fast-paced world. But, we can agree we could influence their effect on our lives as we adjust our attitude toward them. Research by a Psychology Professor, Sonja Lyubomirsky shows that three factors such as our ability to positively reframe our situations, the ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous, have a greater influence on maximizing our state of happiness.