Overview: Module Overview: Toss Your Expectations Into the Ocean
‘I do not let expectations hinder my path.’ ~Dalai Lama
By Leo Babauta
This module, Toss Your Expectations Into the Ocean, is about appreciating life for what it is, and shedding the stress, frustration, disappointment, anger, irritation, pissed-offedness that we experience on a day-to-day basis.
It’s about inner peace. It’s about being happier throughout the day. It’s about moving through the chaos of your life with calm.
It’s also about being productive when you want to be, instead of procrastinating. And sticking to habits when things get tough.
All of this comes from the idea of tossing your expectations into the ocean.
The Cause of Frustrations
Our frustrations, anger, sadness, outrage, stress, being offended by what other people do …pretty much all of it comes from our expectations … and when things (inevitably) donâ€™t turn out as we expect, from wishing things were different.
We build these expectations in our heads of what other people should do, what our lives should be like, how other drivers should behave â€¦ and yet itâ€™s all fantasy. Itâ€™s not real.
And when reality doesnâ€™t meet our fantasy (which is inevitable), we wish the world were different.
When we wish the world were different … we get frustrated. Mad. Stressed. All kinds of things that steal our peace of mind.
And it’s all self-caused. It all stems from these expectations that we create, out of habit, from nothing. They’re not reality, they’re fantasies.
Hereâ€™s a simple solution:
Take your expectations, and throw them in the ocean.
Picture all the expectations you have for yourself, your life, your spouse, your kids, your coworkers, your job, the world. Now imagine taking all these expectations from inside you, and tossing them into the ocean.
What happens to these expectations? They float. Theyâ€™re carried around by waves. The current takes them out, and they drift away. Let them be washed away by the cleansing waters, and let them go.
Now live the next moments of your life without them.
What’s it like to live life without expectations? It means you see reality as it is, and accept it for what it is, and people as they are, without expectations, without trying to force people into the containers you have for them.
Itâ€™s a life where you donâ€™t need to be disappointed or frustrated or angry â€” or if you are, you accept this frustration, see the expectations causing them, toss them out, and then let the frustration go.
Acceptance doesn’t mean you never act — you can act in a way that’s appropriate, because it’s not hindered by frustration … but and you act without the expectation that the world will react to your actions the way you’d like it to react.
If you do something good, you won’t expect praise or appreciation. Let those expectations of reward and praise float away with the waves. Do good because you love doing good, and expect nothing beyond that.
Pay attention to your thoughts. Donâ€™t beat yourself up if you have expectations. Just see them. Then toss them in the ocean.
Notice if you start to wish things werenâ€™t the way they are. If you wish someone else didnâ€™t do something, notice that. You have expectations, and you wish people or the world could have met them instead of doing what they actually did. Toss those wishes in the ocean too. Now accept things, and move on.
Let the waters of the world cleanse us, and let us walk lightly in a world that is already wonderful without our fantasies.
All that is great … but what will we actually be doing in this module? Well, this is a trickier habit than most, because it’s a thinking habit. It’s not a simple physical act like doing 2 minutes of meditation or exercise.
So this is an advanced habit, as all thinking habits are. I don’t recommend it as your first habit, and if you’re just starting out with habits or have had a hard time succeeding at them, I recommend the Beginner’s Habit Program or the meditation module.
But if you’ve created 2-3 habits (or more) with moderate success or great success, then you’re ready to explore a more advanced habit.
Be aware that advanced habits are tough to get right, so you’ll fail a lot at first. That’s OK. Failing is a part of the learning process, and if you go into it without the expectation that you’ll succeed brilliantly right away, then you’ll learn a lot.
This is about learning how your mind works, and how you can influence that, not about getting the habit perfect.
So here’s the idea for this module:
- To have something to anchor your habit to, I suggest a small daily practice of tossing your expectations into the ocean. Metaphorically, of course — you don’t need to live near the ocean to practice this.
- But beyond this practice, start to be mindful of your expectations throughout the day, and their effect on you.
- Start to see frustrations of all kinds as signals, that you have expectations and that they are causing you to be frustrated.
- Learn the practice of tossing your expectations, throughout the day, into the ocean.
- Learn the practice of living in the moment without expectations.
As you can see, this isn’t an easy module, but again, be open to failing and learning. It’s worth the effort.
Let’s go into this module without expectations of how it will turn out, without fantasies of how it will change our minds.
Let’s go in with a simple attitude of curiosity.
And let’s now look at the details in the **Module Plan for Toss Your Expectations Into the Ocean.