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Forget Expectation; Think Real Magic

What does “forget expectation; think real magic” mean, exactly?  In this case it means: Should you find yourself searching for the missing piece of the puzzle in your life, because you assume it will bring certain results, recognize it for what it is: A huge tap on the shoulder, a big clue, that you need to seriously consider unlearning the habit of believing your expectation is the only positive outcome.

This post takes a look at 6 key thought-ingredients of real magic; the kind of magic you will actually wield some power with. By adopting these 6 ways of thinking, you can steer the direction of your life, and live easier in your own skin while navigating.

IN THIS ARTICLE:
-Speed Peek (Expectation is not a Solution) 
-Understand More (About Expectation and Real Magic Remedy) 
-Anti-Challenge Reframing (Reframing and Neural Pathways) 
-Short Story (Around The Corner)

SPEED PEEK

To some extent, the average person will harbor the notion that there is some singular secret formula or catch-all action (a particular person, financial gain, pill, gadget, mantra, etc.) that will fulfill their expectations of happiness and set life on a smooth course. 

The problem with this approach, is gauging happiness or success based on a narrow view of a single fix-all for life meeting all our expectations, leads to disappointment. The reality is, a single fix-all is non-existant; putting your effort into this belief will leave you still still feeling incomplete in the long run.

The truth about enjoying life as a whole, is it’s not based on any one thing in particular, nor is it a specific formula created by someone else that you can half-heartedly follow and yield results. Rather, it has everything to do with your ability to enjoy whatever is in front of you. 

Continue reading this article for:

  • The Real Magic and where it can be found 
  • Understanding expectations and how to counter them

UNDERSTAND MORE

About Expectation

Typical expectation of what a comfortable, happy life looks like usually includes the idea that a pinnacle action, person, ritual, or product will produce the specific outcomes we desire, or believe we need, to feel content with life.  How many times has something along the following lines crossed your mind: “If only I had more money… if I had someone who really loved me… if I lost weight… if I could just get out of this town or country.” ?

Now, how many of you have reached a goal you had put on a pedestal, only to have yet more “if only” quests get in line for your attention? 

When all of reality does not pan out according to assumptions (expectations), it is common to think the perfect answer just hasn’t been discovered yet; that surely, the silver bullet that will do the trick must still be out there.

Sadly, admitted or not, many people search for some “thing” or some “one” that will provide this missing ingredient for a good portion, or all of their lives.  Granted, there are in fact actions you can take to improve elements of your well-being, earnings, companionship, and adding more fun experiences to life, but none of these fit the bill of fix-all.  

The reason people can’t find this answer is obvious in the answer itself. Ready or not, the next paragraph contains the Real Magic that will help you unlock the mystery of the missing puzzle piece.

Real Magic Remedy:

Calmly realizing and accepting that there is no one-size-fits-all simple answer, checklist, or formula for living content, nor is happiness a stagnant, frozen in time, condition.  Each individual finds their own, personalized way to apply certain fundamentals. There is but one sure thing all ways have in common:  Real magic always includes adapting to changes that occur beyond our control.

This may sound like double talk, gibberish, or flat out ludicrous to you, especially if you’ve been convinced for a long time there is a “thing” that will put life in order.

However, the sound you’re hearing is not empty talk; it’s the ring of truth.

About there being no one-size-fits-all: No two lives are experienced the same, therefore no two ways of living life are identical. There will always be differences in personal solutions, if only slight. Though the differences are small, these details of interpretation are the heart of the matter, as they resonate with us personally. These personalized interpretations are a major factor in creating change for each individual. They provide the catalyst in us, which activates when a solution resonates.

Just as the circumstances that surround us change to a degreeevery day, so does the way we address these changes.  The point being, real magic is not a one application solution; every day there are adjustments made, and the solution reapplied.  Rather then feel annoyance at recalibrating, you may want to look at it as a health benefit. After all, adjusting to daily changes in life is one of the primary ways we grow.  Without growth, life becomes very boring and eventually feels very empty.

With no one-size-fits-all expectation; no one simple answer to all of lifes ills, where do you look for direction?

Where do you start in order to discover what your own real magic remedy entails?

Look inside “You” for your magical remedy. The answers stem from how you choose to interpret and respond to life. Here are 6 points to consider that can lead you to your most comfortable path.

Learn:

  • Embrace that every choice matters and these choices add up slowly to create change in your life. The little steps are important; they are how you move from one place to another and grow.
  • Recognize that this slow pace of progression is a gift. This pace allows you to more fully experience changes in life, and is invaluable. There is a reason the saying, most of life’s adventures lie in the journey, not the destination, came to be: It’s accurate. (Think about it: The majority of your actual time alive is spent going through changes. How will you find a positive outlook most of the time, if you are not positive about how the majority of your time is spent?)
  • Learning to take a new stance; looking from a new angle at how you define your expectations, and even your beliefs.
  • Comprehending that it is gratitude for many small things in the moment, and your willingness to adapt to change, which will make up a lasting, overall sense of well-being.

Know and Remember:

  • Know in your heart, that you can read hundreds of inspirational articles and listen to motivational speakers until the cows come home, and nothing will change in your life unless you apply action.
  • Remember that no matter where you search outside yourself, the answer will always be located within, and resonate with your deepest true self.  (While “true self” is a topic for another post, it’s worth mentioning now: If you feel a tug of discomfort when issues arise and you respond in the way you believe you “should”, your true self could be hiding behind a belief system that is not in sync with the true-you. Should you notice this, chances are you need to look at reframing before revisiting the issues.)

NEXT: Anti-Challenge

Take a closer look at where expectations come from and how to reframe them in the next section.

ANTI-CHALLENGE REFRAMING ©

Anti-Challenge Goals/Instructions:
1. Read 
2. Think 
3. Take action

We all form expectations.  They play an important role in our lives; from learning based on previous experiences to calculating goals for the future.

Why Expectation Enters the Picture

Expectations are created as a reponse to our taking in more stimulus through our senses than can be processed at once. To gather as much information as possible, our brains use expectation to pre-sort new information into catagories along side previous similar information.

Which means: any part of the new information we take in that has a previous pattern we recognize, is then routed, by established neural pathways, to our beliefs already formed, and creates an expectation for the new information.[1] Very handy of course, if it stops you from touching an open flame and burning your skin. Not so handy if dealing with anything other than a clear cut dangerous situation.

Where we get into trouble with this sorting process, is having the tendency to be rigid in our thinking about possible alternative outcomes . Because our neural pathways “quick sort” using old information to create expectations, we are bypassing new information about the current situation. And there is no crystal ball that lets us really see what is actually yet to come in all circumstances; new information is best looked at on a case by case basis.

What if you don’t want to try reframing?

If you are not willing to consider alternate ways of interpreting information, and going to the effort of giving thought to potential different viewpoints, then you get trapped by assumptions you have made from only a fraction of what the realities at hand may be.

Want to know more about the science of it?

[1] An informative article I found interesting, by Loretta G. Breuning, Ph.D., speaks about the neural pathways created from your past experiences. To read more about how repetition and emotional surge are what change these pathways, see the following link:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-neurochemical-self/201608/stop-anxiety-adjusting-expectations%3famp

Your Thinking Kickstart

You can arrive at realistic solutions a lot faster by understanding two things up front:

  1. Expectation is not prediction. Expectation is best used as a loose guideline for a direction to head. Remember, what you assume before the fact, is overridden by whatever actually comes to pass.
  2. Remain pliable; be flexible in adapting to the realities as they unfold. What actually ends up occurring is what you will experience, not necessarily your assumptions.  Even if some expectations do unfold as you assumed, you are wise to primarily focus on being mindful of all aspects of what is actually occurring.  At minimum, there will be new nuances you could not predict. You will be cutting out part of your individualized experience of living if you miss them.

Putting expectation aside makes room for reality to exceed what you expect. (As you try this for yourself, you may find it interesting, as I did, to make a mental or written note of what you expected. Then compare what actually happens, including any silver linings found, and your long term outcome. I was amazed at how changing my outlook reaped larger rewards than I anticipated when it came to the bottom line.)

Another Tip

When you notice positive personal results, remember them! Reminding yourself what really has worked for you is helpful with everything from reframing, to forming a new belief system. Your own positive experence is great ammunition to use when combating the doubt and anxiety that can come with general expectations.

Example of reframing to help you identify your opportunities:
IssueExpectReframe
Family In-law reunionCondesending attitudeHot/outdoors before. 90% when a smile is offered, one received

Reframing does not change the situation, but it can reduce your stress and become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

REFRAMING: Changing your perceptions and beliefs.
Visit these 5 Life with Holley links for insight on “Reframing”:

5 Tips for a Positive Attitude
HOW TO KEEP EXPECTATIONS FROM RUINING POSITIVE THINKING
3 Ways to Change Your Perception
6 Fundamentals Needed for Action and Habit
How To Keep It Simple In 6 Thoughts

Life with Holley
“Anti-challenge Reframing © 2018” was created from an idea, and partial
terminology, derived from a comment made on my June 25, 2018 Instagram
spoof-post: “International Anti-Selfie Day”.  Thank you to Vaughan
(@vaughan.knight  Instagram) for your insightful, witty words: “You could offer
a ‘reframing’ service; new opportunities from old!  Start a new
anti-challenge whenever life doesn’t live up to expectation; therein lies
something not to be found in the successful events.

STORY ABOUT THE FEATURED PHOTOGRAPH

AROUND THE CORNER Sometimes I wish there was a spreadsheet of certain data from my life. I’d be very interested to know just how many times I’ve jumped ahead of myself, immediately becoming disappointed, when something I had not anticipated thwarted what I had planned. Unfortunately, I don’t have a specific count of times, or a hard copy of the long-term trickle-down chain of events that took place after my initial disappointments. I can however say, that even with only a look at the limited mental tracking I’ve done the past 20+ years, I can say there is irrefutable evidence of a surprising amount of obvious positives, opportunities gained, and of course “bullets dodged” which all began with initial disappointment.

In fact, the self-evidenced proof I have, is worth more than gold to me. You see, these facts that I’ve seen for myself make it much easier for me to accept things as they realisically are, rather than spend time and energy bemoaning what could have been, or what just doesn’t seem fair at the moment. It’s hard to argue with your own track record when it shows things come out fine in the wash, even those times when I had been convinced it was the end of the world.

You honestly cannot know what good things are just around the corner.

The featured image, “Around The Corner”, is a good example of both sides of the coin: A pleasant surprise I had not geared for, as well as what reframing in the moment looked like.

The bottom line Thursday

My early evening began as I walked under a solid grey sky to reach my 5pm hair appointment. I wasn’t expecting to catch sunset, so shooting was the farthest thing from my mind.  Imagine my surprise and delight as I exited the salon and found the rain still falling, with a double rainbow backdrop! Never mind that my freshly blown hair (first time paid to have done in over 3 years) was soon plastered to my head. Do you want to know what reframing said to me at that moment? “Hair dries… but this exact sky needed to be photographed now!”

I had choices here, about how I would respond to my expectation changing.

  1. I could reframe and do as I felt inclined (enjoy sunset, feel alive out in the gentle rain, capture two double rainbows, find a shoot location I’d been on the lookout for, and drive the last leg home with a smile on my face, humming a happy tune.)
  2. Or, I could have moaned and grumbled because I did not bring my umbrella into salon; grumbled a little more because “my hair was not dry before the next time I washed it”, and maybe even grumble a wee bit farther, by throwing in some irrelevant complaining (eg: Even though the blow-dry was no additional cost, I could gripe that “I didn’t get my money’s worth going home with wet hair.”)

Oh, I think you know I preferred the smile and hum ending; it was a classic example of tossing out expectation, and adapting to the realities. Sure glad I went that direction with choices; I would have hated to miss what was right around the corner.

Image: “Around The Corner” 
f/7.1 – 1/1600– ISO 200
focal length 155mm
Canon EOS 80D 
May 16, 2019

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