When you are leading an incomplete Life, how can you be happy?

Don’t nurture and cling on to expectations.

A young lady, who is a writer, met me at The Artist’s Soul  event yesterday. She said she loves writing but she doesn’t write much. I asked her why it is so. “I have a fear that people may not read what I write,” she replied. I told her, “Write for yourself. If people read it, great. If people don’t read it, great. Write without expectations. The moment expectations come into your Life, you have invited agony too.”

The young lady is not alone in the way she feels. A majority of people base their actions on social expectations. Either they are expecting something from society. Or they are pandering to society’s expectations of them. So, nett nett they are not living their lives the way they ought to be living them. They are living incomplete, unfulfilled lives. They are suffering, and so, they are unhappy.

AVIS-Viswanathan-Don't-expect-a-return-on-a-gift

The key to happiness lies in dropping expectations. And you can do that by focusing on the process, the journey, than on the reward or the destination. The problem with obsessing over the reward is that you will be depressed if you don’t get it. And, as is true about Life, you don’t always get what you want. So, in the lady’s case, she has talent, a gift, to express herself with the written word. But she’s not using that talent. She imagines people will not read what she writes. So, she has allowed an expectation of a reward – that people must read and possibly like her writing – to come into the picture. With the expectation around, she is living an incomplete Life – she is not doing what she loves doing. When you are leading an incomplete Life, how can you be happy? This is how, the moment an expectation comes into your Life, it ruins your inner peace.

On the other side, when you forever try to meet and fulfill expectations that others have of you, your Life is again incomplete. Then, you are not living your Life – you are living it the way others want you to live it.

I have lived my Life both ways. And, surely, I have suffered until I dropped all expectations – of others and of me. I have learnt that the simplest way to inner peace is to do whatever you have to do, whatever you love doing, and offer it to Life, without expecting anything back in return. If you think about it deeply, Life itself is a gift. So is your talent. Isn’t expecting a return on what you have got free – your Life itself and your talent – possibly being avaricious? This doesn’t mean you should not ask for or accept a value that people may offer you. In a real world, where money is an integral measure of value and also a necessary resource of survival, you can’t avoid asking for and receiving a return. But don’t nurture and cling on to expectations. Beware, they only bring agony!