Trading Your Expectations for Appreciation

Let’s face it, most of us are way too hard on ourselves.

Don Miguel Ruiz once said in his book The Four Agreements, “The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake.”

Some of us set the bar high in hopes of achieving tremendous things while others don’t set one at all in hopes of getting lucky one day or as a way to point the finger externally.

While it’s perfectly normal to want to attain goals and better ourselves, setting expectations of desired outcomes (whether consciously or unconsciously) typically leads to negative emotions such as feelings of disappointment, stress, anxiety, humiliation and failure.
And yet we are all guilty of doing it…

Tony Robbins once said something in an interview that has stuck with me and has since opened my eyes to a new mode of thinking that completely changed my views on expectations and goal setting.

He said: “Trade your expectations for appreciation. It’s a whole new world instantly. If you can’t appreciate this moment, if you can’t find ecstasy in this moment, in a conversation with a friend, or looking in your wife’s eyes, being with your children, going on a run. If you can’t find ecstasy now…I’m here to tell you: more money, more people, more love, more business, more anything is not gonna give you more… If you can’t do it here and now, you’re not going to do it then when you’ve got more.”

Now before you brush this off and get back to your normal thinking routine, try to really understand the essence of what he is saying.

He’s not saying to not aspire to want to obtain things. He’s not saying that in order to be happy you need to become a monk.

He simply is stating that if you stop focusing so much on a desired outcome and learn to appreciate the present and the abundance that you’re surrounded by internally and externally within this very moment, you can gain access to all of the deeply meaningful emotions that you have sought after your entire life.

Money, success, fame and tangible items are great in moderation and can bring us bits of the feelings we want to possess, but they are fleeting and temporary.

Feelings of love, joy and fulfillment are what we truly seek. Acquiring permanent inner peace and gratitude for a life that is well lived is the ultimate objective.

And the crazy thing is that it is possible to achieve this state of mind by trading our expectations for appreciation.

We like to think that in order to make drastic changes in our lives we must take drastic measures, but the opposite is true. A tiny seed of thought that is planted today can blossom into the most beautiful tree if you make the effort to water it each day.

Make the decision right now to begin looking at life from a new lens.

Start appreciating all that is both inwardly and outwardly. Express gratitude for each and every minute of your waking days and realize that any time you do anything may very well be the last time you get to do it.

Don’t stop striving to attain ambitious goals in life, just remember to make the effort to look at them from a different perspective. One where regardless if you achieve them, you’ll appreciate the entire process and journey of being able to pursue it.

And most importantly, make it a priority to become more aware of the gratitude we should all hold in our hearts for the opportunity to be alive right now, breathing, feeling, sensing, thinking, growing, and loving.

“Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.” – Seneca