Friday, August 06, 2010
The Cost of High Expectations
I watched a video on YouTube about the Danes being the happiest people on earth and the consensus was that the root of this happiness lies in the fact that they don't expect much, so there is little to be disappointed with and when unexpected good fortune arrives in some form, they are filled with joy over it. I have thought about this for the past couple days and remember my own mother telling me in what seemed a rather negative tone to me, "don't expect much and you won't be disappointed." I think we equate high expectations with being positive and not expecting much with a negative attitude, but maybe we are off the mark a bit in that assumption. Maybe, contentment is really just being satisfied with what we have without a ton of expectations. Focusing on what we don't have but feel we ought to have, makes us think more about the things we are wanting than on the blessings that do fill our lives. Shopping is so conducive to that sort of thinking. Wandering around looking for what we think we SHOULD have in our homes or on our backs and maybe even in our stomachs, spending money that maybe we don't even have to spend. But we feel entitled. Why ?
I was thinking more about this and went to the Bible for some insight into what God thinks about the subject and its pretty clear, we are to be content with what we have and God will dole out the extras to us, gifts of His love and mercy.
Just read Hebrews 13:5. Couldn't be much plainer than that.
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
We have become a people of wants, of high expectations. Get rich quick schemes abound. Credit card debt proves our sense of "must have's" beyond what we actually have for money. Our children expect that we will provide them with all the same things the media tells them its "the thing" to have. The children seem to have little or no connection to what funds are honestly available from the parents pocket. And through all this, we are not any happier. Matter of fact, it appears that having high expectations costs us our happiness on some level. The over-achieving mind set of the American has landed his grade for happiness far below the top ten.
I read a story in a little book yesterday that floored me.....A 42 year old electrician joined a Baptist church, began tithing after the pastor promised blessings and reward. When the rewards didn't come in as he expected and felt entitled to, he filed suit for return of the $800 he had put in. "He says he didn't receive the benefits promised."
With the mindset of Timothy in chapter 6: 6 "But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."
We loose our sense of entitlement, our desire to expect so much. That doesn't mean we trash our goals, but only look at them for what they are. Something to strive for and so often not things that are necessary for a good life. Getting a new car for the sake of comfort and prestige when the one you have is fine, is a good example of where we can emotionally head off to when we have expectations that are greater than our bank statement.
Contentment is perhaps figuring out that there are very few extras in life that make us better people, or give us a good feeling for very long. Learning to be happy with what you have on a basic level makes everything added to that, frosting on the cake. Joy within our hearts, the kind that is not dependant on material goods, is what gives us the deepest and most solid happiness.
Simplify the wants, count the blessings you have and happiness might just grow in your life.
It is a silent sort of morning, sitting next to the wood stove in my rocker, watching the birds outside my windo...