If you lower your expectations, could you become happier?

The paradox of life: Tao Te Ching verse 2 (part 2) week 4 Saturday Morning Mastermind

Should you lower your expectations of people?

Lower your expectations? Huh?
Have you ever noticed that high expectations that aren’t met tend to cause you misery and disappointment?

Last week we talked about how humanity has always had a propensity to define and label everything and how this labeling creates strong beliefs about how people should be, do, and act.

However, these strong beliefs, particularly regarding people’s behavior, cause alot of friction between people because everyone has different ideas about what’s best.

It’s important to understand that what we’re talking about here is not whether having expectations is good, bad, right or wrong. It’s about examining your thought processes, determining where your expectations actually come from, then deciding if those expectations are actually benefiting you or just making you miserable.

Most people believe their expectations are reasonable and some might say that if you lower your expectations you’re just enabling people to be less than what they’re capable of.

But, hanging on to frequently unmet expectations will always cause you disappointment, frustration, and strain on your relationships. Even if your expectation seems perfectly reasonable to you, it may not seem so to the other person. If you keep expecting something and it never happens, you are the one always setting yourself up for unhappiness it that relationship.

But what if… You come to realize that your expectations are the main thing that cause you the most disappointment in life and you could avoid all that pain if you just focus on your own business and stop worrying so much about what other people do or don’t do?

The second half of Verse 2 of the Tao Te Ching talks about ‘Nurturing things without possessing them

Having expectations of someone is a kind of possessiveness. You possess an idea of how YOU think people should be or how YOU believe people should behave or act. When they don’t measure up, YOU are the one that becomes upset because of the idea you’re clinging to.

In reality, your misery isn’t caused by that other person. It is wholly caused by the idea you possess in your own mind.

What if, you lower your expectations, release your possessive attitudes about people, and instead simply “nurture” the relationships you have with them?

How would your life change? How would the dynamic of your relationships change? Do you think you might be happier?

How to Lower your expectations at work and be happier now

Read the last half of verse 2 again.

It says “he works, but not for rewards; he competes, but not for results. When the work is done, it is forgotten. That is why it lasts forever.

What if you apply this principle to your work? You could lower your expectations by not focusing so much on what you hope to gain, recognition you expect to receive, or goals you want to reach.

Maybe this part of the verse is telling you to focus on enjoying the work you are doing right now in the moment.

If we are always focused on the end result aka the future, can we ever truly be happy right now in the present?

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What do YOU think? Comment below…

This is week 4 of our Saturday Morning Mastermind study of
Change your thoughts Change your life” by Wayne Dyer

Read Chapter 2 – Living the paradoxical unity

and tell us what you think verse 2 of the Tao Te Ching and Wayne Dyer are telling us…

Tao Te Ching – Verse 2
Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty,
only because there is ugliness.
All can know good as good only because there is evil.

Being and nonbeing produce each other.
The difficult is born in the easy.
Long is defined by short, the high by the low.
Before and after go along with each other.

So the sage lives openly with apparent duality
and paradoxical unity.
The sage can act without effort and teach without words.
Nurturing things without possessing them,
he works, but not for rewards;
he competes, but not for results.

When the work is done, it is forgotten.
That is why it lasts forever.

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  • Jason Roberts

    So glad we spent a little more time on the second verse this morning. So interesting to here perspectives and ideas from thousands of years ago that still have relevance. Seems to me that Tao is partly the essence of ideas that we hear about often. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” comes to mind. “Just be” is what is mentioned in this terrific book. Also, it is interesting how Dr. Dyer comes to this conclusion. But how do we put this stuff to practical use when things seem to not be going our way in life? Let me make a suggestion and start with this. I always say “go be the inspiration you seek in the the world”. When you do you will undoubtedly meet others whom are interested in the same purpose to surround yourself with which will put more of your life in alignment with what your goals are. See, I agree we at some level should remember to “just be” However it seems to me that Just Being and not doing but just remaining in a current of energy, thoughts and existence that is not conducive to the furthering of Your major purpose wont get You where You want to be so that You can Really, Just Be what we all want to be and that is Happy. So, I think part of the Being is understanding that we Are the Only beings on the planet that can interact with the World and the Universe. So We are meant to Be, with a capital “B”, Interact, and experience the 10,000 things and each other. Interacting is required and it requires Action. Our happiness is mute in regards to this. Our happiness requires our own personal work to focus our internal and surrounding energies in the direction of our major definite purpose. If that is done then I think we are open to “just be” as things proceed toward our goals and benchmarks. Thanks for reading! Show up in your own life and show up next Saturday at 10am to help us discuss the 3rd verse.

    • Donna Allen

      I love it Jason, have to admit I had somewhat concerns in the beginning of this book.
      I am thankful of the open heart and mind that was given me. To “Just be me”

    • You hit the nail on the head Jason!
      It isn’t just about sitting there doing nothing. It’s about determining what your main purpose is here in this life and the world of the 10,000 things by examining what actions and interactions truly make you happy or ‘drive’ you. and then keeping that in the forefront of your mind every moment as you make decisions about what actions to take throughout your days.

      Like we’ve talked about before, emotions are indicators. Positive emotions tell us that we’re moving in the direction of our major definite purpose and negative ones tell us that we are moving away from it.

      Whether a person truly knows what their purpose of life is or not, they can still check themselves on a moment to moment basis and determine if what they’re doing is moving them toward happiness or away from it.

      One of the things I think the next verse is going to discuss has to do with weeding out values that have been taught to us about what happiness is supposed to look like verses what actually will make you personally happy.

      I feel like people have a hard time even knowing what truly would make them happy because they’ve been taught for so long to put the most value on external things. That in itself goes back to our discussion about expectations.

      When you’ve been taught that external things will bring you happiness, but the required actions to acquire those things make you miserable, you end up with a huge amount of conflict within yourself about what you are Supposed to do in life.

  • Roger Laidig

    In regards to ‘expectations’, years ago a mentor of mine suggested that we change ‘expectations’ to ‘desires’. Then work on what is in our control, do it. Then trust the Universe (God), for the results.

    For me, it’s relieves a lot of stress and frees up my energy to invest in ‘what I can do’.

    • Donna Allen

      I agree with you Roger, let go of the stress takes up to much space in the mind and body!

  • Donna Allen

    Good Morning! I see that from reading this chapter will clarify that part of us just be…to add what you would like there. Just be what? You can see that clear with the oneness of you and the spirit.

    • Yes! Just be. or as Katherine kept reminding us on the broadcast ‘let go, and let God’

      • Exactly! Let go of what you think ‘should’ be happening and embrace what’s currently happening. Find the good and reason to be happy about what is happening right now.

        I love how Jason mentioned taking a minute to think about the things you are grateful for rather than focusing on what isn’t going right!

  • Karen Lohof

    Yes, liking this new commenting! No disruption of the hang out!

  • A great article to help you examine your expectations…

  • Good Morning Everyone!! 🙂

  • Karen Lohof

    Good Morning, or more familiarly, ‘mornin’, ‘mornin’.

  • Good Morning!

  • It’s kind of amazing to me how one short little verse can share so many different lessons!

    “Nurturing things without possessing them, he works, but not for rewards;
    he competes, but not for results.”

    I think this section is hard for most people to wrap their heads around.

    We’ve all been taught to work hard so that we can benefit from the fruits of our labor.

    There are so many beliefs that suggest you don’t deserve happines or success if you haven’t toiled and endured long for it.

    It’s like we’ve been told that our whole life should be about suffering if we ever want to be happy.

    Which makes no sense!!

    Because when would we EVER be happy if we aren’t purposefully being happy right now?

    All we truly have is this moment NOW.

    How can we be happy if all we ever do is cause ourselves suffering now in a hopes that we will have happiness in a future that will never actually come?

    So if we look at our lives as continuous string of NOWness, wouldn’t you rather be happy in every moment of NOW?

    What if the benefits of our labor is simply the labor itself?

    What would you do differently in your work, relationships, life, etc. to enjoy these things right now?

    • Donna Allen

      Samantha, in what you have said here. Just makes sense…NOWness vs ONEness is Happy! Just till your ground keep planting the seeds, leave the harvest to the JUST BE!

  • The second part of this verse is so Powerful, I’m glad we are discussing it! Your explanation above reiterates one of the main things that we have been teaching in SMM, it is your belief in your THOUGHTS that causes misery or happiness! If you are not familiar with Byron Katies work, I think she does the best at getting to these things! Everything you need is on her site for free at http://thework.com Her simple 4 step process has changed my life and I highly recommend it. As for expectations…they will do you in everytime! I got slapped with this lesson again not long ago and it caused me incredible grief and sorrow until I recognized what I was doing and changed my thoughts. This is REALLY POWERFUL. Don’t let this simple yet profound teaching pass you by. We have complete control over our Happiness or Sadness!! Change your Thoughts, Change your Life <3

    • Exactly! And thanks for sharing this additional resource Katherine! I look forward to checking it out.