In the Hindu epic Bhagwad Geeta, Lord Krishna exhorts warrior prince Arjun to “do what he must do, without worrying about the fruit of his actions.”
In real life, this valuable piece of advice is so hard to follow, is it not?
We work hard in the office, expecting to be rewarded. We fall in love, and then expect our lover to constantly demonstrate and prove his or her love for us. We even love our children—supposedly the most unconditional kind of love—with the secret or sometimes obvious expectation that they will continue to be controlled by us.
The result of all this expectation is pain and unhappiness.
Because more often than not, people don’t live up to our expectations. It is never a given that you will receive as much as you give, but we continue to hope and crave for that return gift of love, understanding, appreciation. When they don’t come our way, we tend to become resentful, bitter and unpleasant. Unkind words are spoken, hurt caused, and there is unhappiness all around.
The world would be a much happier place if we just worked, gave and loved without expecting anything back. There is an Arabic saying, “Neki kar, dariya mein daal,” which translates to “Do good, and then toss it in the river” (in other words, forget about a kindness you have done). Don’t let a good deed become a burden on the person to whom you have been kind.
Here are some beautiful thoughts on expectation. I urge you to take a few minutes to soak them in.
“When someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
“The secret self knows the anguish of our attachments and assures us that letting go of what we think we must have to be happy is the same as letting go of our unhappiness.”
― Guy Finley
“I shall expect my husband to have no pleasures but what he shares with me; and if his greatest pleasure of all is not the enjoyment of my company – why – it will be the worse for him – that’s all.”