As part of the prep for this episode I reached out to the audience on twitter and asked how does gratitude impact your expectations?
The tweet got a couple of likes. Quite a few saw it, and one person tersely and aptly replied, It really shouldn’t.
He’s right. It really shouldn’t. In an ideal world we should be able to conjure gratitude and keep it going infinitely. But I don’t live in an ideal world, and I don’t have perfect experiences.
For me, my ability to be grateful is often hampered by my own expectations not being met.
I asked my son to take out the recycling and it didn’t happen.
I expected my daughter who’s 18 to be more grateful. It’s not happening at the pace I’d prefer. Yesterday she got cake for breakfast to celebrate her last day of high school—and she was grouchy because her siblings woke her up at 11am to eat the cake with her.
So, I asked myself, what if my expectations were keeping me from being grateful?
Alanis Morrisette’s Ironic is entirely about her expectations not being met. The song, released in February 1996. Let’s remember that Alanis is a Canadian singer. February is arguably the dreariest month of the year in the northern hemisphere. Whoever chose that month to publish the song hit the nail on the head. Coupled with a catchy tune the lyrics rely on the use of the word ironic, but it’s really about expectations not being met.
An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It's a black fly in your Chardonnay
It's a death row pardon two minutes too late
And isn't it ironic, don't you think?
Expectations are in our control. We set them. Sometimes we calculate them out with precision. Other times they’re based on more emotional information.
A recent article on Forbes.com highlighted Augusts Caesar’s advice that allowed him to rule for 40 years.
Throughout his long reign Augustus had one motto. He emphasized it to his generals and thought it so important that he had coins minted with an image symbolizing it: festina lente. Make haste, slowly. The fastest way to get something done is to do it right the first time. Even – especially – when you’re feeling the crunch, take your time.
How can we retrain ourselves to quickly reset our expectations to live in the world we live in?
Maybe that reset isn’t about being quick. Maybe it’s about being slow.
In the Army we had a phrase that was like Ceasar’s. When we trained soldiers to work in high-risk team-dependent activities, we would repeat the phrase, slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
What does that mean? It’s a reminder that taking things slow has a purpose. It’s not to torture ourselves. It’s to get us to where we can make what we do a smooth experience. Then, once we find smooth, we can go fast.
Every one of us will get to those situations in life where we’re around things beyond our control and our expectations aren’t being met. We will have those dreary February days where Alanis Morrissette’s song becomes our anthem. Go ahead and sing along in the car. But when the last chord fades that song’s attitude won’t leave you feeling any better. It offers no repeatable solution.
One way to help us feel better is to slow down. Slow is smooth. Take the time to work through your thoughts. Be in control.
Slow is smooth. Align your expectations to see the good in the world. Get to smooth.
Choose gratitude. Once your there run with it. Smooth, is fast.
You own your expectations. You’re the chef creating your own recipe for gratitude.
music by Dyalla Swain http://soundcloud.com/dyallas
Ocean Waves by Enrique Hoyos: https://www.pexels.com/video/drone-view-of-big-waves-rushing-to-the-shore-3571264/