Managing Expectations

Great Expectations Miss Havisham?We all live with hopes and expectations, of ourselves, of others, and of the outcome of situations in our lives, and it is all too easy to be disappointed when those expectations are not fully met.

However, you must also remember, that your happiness is in your own hands, so being unhappy when your expectations are dashed, is your own decision.

In my own experience, I find that taking some quiet time to examine why I am disappointed helps to solve the problem. Sometimes, upon reflection, my expectations are too high, even unrealistic you might say, sometimes the simple acceptance that my expectations are not those of others explains the outcome.

But allowing your expectation of others to be, even in part, the basis of your own happiness shows a lack of wisdom, so learn from the pain, don’t repeat the mistake and move forward.

So to help maintain your happiness, set realistic and flexible expectations for yourself and of others, and accept that failing to meet those expectations does not mean failing altogether.

TTTT – Take Time To Talk

Take Time To TalkA Buddhist scripture states that “the voice does the Buddha’s work.” The voice has the power to convey one’s compassion for another.

No matter how much you care, the sentiment alone will not communicate itself. When your thoughts and feelings are conveyed in words, your voice will have the immense power to move another person’s heart.

Talking things through, in a compassionate and understanding manner, can solve any situation if both parties reciprocate. Of course, a one sided conversation cannot solve anything, but when people open their hearts to one another, we have the power to move mountains.

If there is a situation in your life, something that has perhaps been present for longer than is healthy or constructive for all those concerned, take time to sit and talk. In a state of calm mindfulness, with the willingness to listen to, and understand the point of view of the others concerned, resolution may be reached sooner than any of you dreamed possible.

There’s A Kind Of Hush …

There's A Kind Of HushAs you know, I’ve just had the perfect long weekend. Albeit that it’s a couple of days ago now, but the memories are still sinking in. In the past, I might be rueing having to come back to work, but the period I had without work has rather put a stop to that, and it’s also because I now have the ability to pour a mental calm over everything.

You know the calm I mean, at least I hope you do, when slowly everything starts to come together, to fit into place and there’s a soft and easy feel about things. At work, at home, in my practice, in fact in life, I have definitely turned some magical corner and tranquillity is the result.

Not that tranquillity itself is necessarily always a good thing. It can make us lazy, complacent, stop setting goals for ourselves or making the causes for the effects we want to see. But the tranquillity that accompanies the calmness of a balanced situation is very magical indeed.

Sometimes we have to go through a rough ride to reach the place we want to be. During the ride it’s tough, tranquillity is a million miles away and sometimes appears to be receding fast. But if you stick with it, learn from the pain and make the necessary causes, you will reap the benefits of the effects when they arrive.

So stick with it. If you have confidence in your goals, remain determined and resolute in your quest, and have the courage to withstand the pain, you too will see the benefits. It’s marvellous.

Crash, Bang, Wallop …

Thunder and LightningThe thunder, lightening and rain was biblical on Friday morning, not the kind that wakes the odd person, the kind that wakes everyone, amazing. So having been roused from our slumbers, we stood at the window watching natures incredible light show and marvelling at the rain falling vertically in huge droplets.

If we are unprepared for it, the weather can cause us all manner of problems, as witnessed by the floods in and around Somerset earlier in the year. But problems, or challenges as we prefer to refer to them, can be seen in many ways …

There was once an old lady who cried all the time. Her elder daughter was married to an umbrella merchant while the younger daughter was the wife of a noodle vendor. On sunny days, she worried, “Oh no! The weather is so nice and sunny. No one is going to buy any umbrellas. What will happen if the shop has to be closed?” These worries made her sad. She just could not help but cry.

When it rained, she would cry for the younger daughter. She thought, “Oh no! My younger daughter is married to a noodle vendor. You cannot dry noodles without the sun. Now there will be no noodles to sell. What should we do?” As a result, the old lady lived in sorrow everyday. Whether sunny or rainy, she grieved for one of her daughters. Her neighbours could not console her and jokingly called her “the crying lady.”

One day, she met a monk. He was very curious as to why she was always crying. She explained the problem to him. The monk smiled kindly and said, “Madam! You need not worry. I will show you a way to happiness, and you will need to grieve no more.”

The crying lady was very excited. She immediately asked the monk to show her what to do. The master replied, “It is very simple. You just need to change your perspective. On sunny days, do not think of your elder daughter not being able to sell umbrellas but the younger daughter being able to dry her noodles. With such good strong sunlight, she must be able to make plenty of noodles and her business must be very good. When it rains, think about the umbrella store of the elder daughter. With the rain, everyone must be buying umbrellas. She will sell a lot of umbrellas and her store will prosper.”

The old lady saw the light. She followed the monk’s instruction. After a while, she did not cry anymore; instead, she was smiling everyday. From that day on she was known as “the smiling lady.”

Through Different Eyes

Through Different EyesDo you remember the day you mastered the art of riding a bicycle? Of course you do. For me, it was the culmination of a rather lengthy, and very frustrating process, and but for the perseverance  of my father, I might never have learned at all.

I just couldn’t seem to get it. It looked so simple, but the harder I tried, the worse I got. Then suddenly it clicked, I had it nailed, and from that day on I have been able to ride a bike.

Ok, so it’s no huge revelation, but I think learning about Buddhism is a bit like learning to ride a bike.

As you learn, about The Oneness of Self and the Universe, about Karma, about Life-Energy or The Ten Worlds, you also learn to see yourself, life and the Universe in a different way. And just in the way that having learned to ride a bicycle, you never unlearn the skill, once you learn to see the world through different eyes, you never unlearn that either.

Deep in my heart, I know that I am different for having Buddhism at the centre of my life. Some people have noticed that change, others ask what has changed and how I know that it’s a real change, not just a fad, or ‘a phase I’m going through’.

Well as I say, once you see the world differently, you just can’t un-see it that way. It’s a wonderful change, and I’m very confident, not to say delighted, that it’s a permanent change.

On Being Supportive

apple treeAt the back of our office, there is a small grass area surrounded by a wilderness of brambles and wild flowers. A while ago, someone planted a very small apple tree which has a short piece of aluminium tubing next to it as a support.

Over the winter, and indeed into much of the spring, the tree was doing a very good impression of a dead twig. No leaves, no signs of life at all. But with the slowly rising temperatures, and all the rain, it sprouted new leaves and is growing nicely.

The aluminium stake is only there to help the tree survive the worst of the weather, the wind and storms. It does not help the tree to grow, it is so loosely tied to the developing sapling that it does not influence it in any way, it just stands there and offers support when the tree needs it.

That is how we should be when we offer support to someone. We are not there to influence them or to change the way they are growing, just to provide additional strength when times get tough. We must show compassion when they go through growing pains, have wisdom to help them overcome their issues and use our courage when they lean on us.

Being their support brings it’s own challenges. We have to accept the path the person we are supporting decides to take, whether it would be our choice or not. We must listen to what the person is saying, but not try to influence them or provide conflicting view points. We also have to have the strength to resist the forces that would otherwise cause us both to falter.

That is the role of a support. It’s not an easy role, but it does bring it’s own rewards. In time, like the tree, the person may in fact become stronger than us and no longer want or need our support. But the joy in seeing them grow and become strong is reward enough for the task undertaken.

And Breathe

And BreatheHaving the patience, with a person or situation, to see things through to a conclusion takes Wisdom, Courage and Compassion.

The Wisdom to see that the desired path is both achievable and the correct outcome.

The Courage to stick to your path, despite setbacks or obstacles.

The Compassion to see things from all viewpoints, whether they agree with yours or not.

One big problem with being patient, is that you never know what the outcome will be until it’s happened. In the meantime, simply remember to breathe

How many times must I struggle with this challenge? Only time will tell.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Looks Can Be DeceivingA wise man once said, “There are people who are happy just drinking water. On the other hand, there are some who sink into sorrow and despair while surrounded by pure luxury.”

Whether a person is happy or not cannot be judged solely by their appearance.

When you take time to look back on your life, sometimes you realise that the toughest times were the most fulfilling and happiest moments.

A Slight Postponement

Bad WeatherI have been planning to complete the Strava Gran Fondo 5 challenge so I had booked today off from work, planned my route, a trip of just over 200km, taking in all the best bits of The New Forest. I had all the nutrition organised, my bike had been serviced and was ready to go … then the weather changed.

It’s been a really miserable day, wet, very wet and really windy, not the kind of conditions you want for a serious ride. So I have had to postpone to trip until a more clement day. But let’s think about this in a wider context.

In the UK, this weekend is the Spring Bank holiday. Children are on holiday, all manner of events have been planned and organised for months, just for this weekend. So many events, the Bournemouth Wheels festival, the Bournemouth Rugby Sevens, even the Sky Nightglow Ride on Monday evening, rely to a degree on the weather.

I really hope that the weather improves over the next few days. Partly because I would really like to complete the challenge Strava have set, but mainly because of all the hard work and effort that have gone into the events of this weekend.

No matter how events, such as the weather, affect your plans in life, always take a moment to look at the bigger picture. Doing so can really put things into perspective and help you see how things really are.

Question Yourself

Question YourselfHaving confidence in yourself, in your faith, and in my case, my practice is often a comfortable place to be. But simply having someone else question that confidence can be a good thing at times, even though it might leave you questioning yourself.

When you find yourself being quizzed about aspects of your life, it is all too easy to become defensive, even annoyed by the questions. Who does this person think they are, putting my self confidence under the microscope?

But taking the time to think carefully about the questions, to see things from their point of view and to reflect upon what you see, is a good thing.

Of course it can make you question your own beliefs, about yourself, about the way things really are, and not just the way you see them. It can cause you to pull up short and may even make you realise that the situation is not quite the way you had imagined.

But it also gives you the opportunity to take stock and, where necessary, make changes to align your world view with the real world. Our own little universe is sometimes at odds with the way things really are, so if someone asks you awkward questions, don’t come out with all guns blazing, it may just be that they have a more realistic idea of the situation.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

%d bloggers like this: