September 1

Today's quotation:

One of the things that my parents have taught me is never
listen to other people's expectations.  You should live your
own life and live up to your own expectations,
and those are the only things I really care about.

Tiger Woods

Today's Meditation:

It's nice to see that sometimes, the advice of parents is not only heard, but heeded.  In this case, Tiger's parents passed on a very wise principle to their son, and he internalized it, helping himself to be a much stronger and happier person.  For there's no doubt that trying to please other people with all that we do is a way to make ourselves miserable, while defining and trying to reach our own expectations is a very positive and productive way to go through life.

Nobody knows the life you're living, and nobody else knows what your dreams and goals and abilities are.  So realistically speaking, how can anyone else devise a set of expectations that match your unique self?  Other people's expectations are artificial at best, destructive at worst, and it's up to us to be realistic as we decide whose expectations we truly should follow.

Most expectations have their origins in history, in the ways that other people have done things.  Somehow we develop expectations that the people in the present and in the future will continue to do things in the same ways, whether those ways make sense or not.  The coat and tie provide a beautiful example--no one works any better because of the particular clothes they're wearing, but because people in certain positions are expected to wear a tie, they do so.  It doesn't matter that most of the people who visit a bank don't care one way or another if the banker's in a tie or a t-shirt, as long as he or she is professional and competent.  As long as two or three people might complain because their expectations of a banker being in a tie aren't met, then others expect the same thing of the banker.

Live up to your own expectations.  Have your own expectations, and make sure they're uniquely yours.  Know the situations in which you may be providing a service to others by meeting their expectations, but be sure you know why you do so.  Your life is yours to live, and it's important that you live it on your terms.

Questions to consider:

How often in your life do you find yourself trying to live up to other people's expectations?

How do we develop expectations that we expect others to follow?

Are there situations in which expectations of others are a positive thing?

For further thought:

To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves--there lies the great, singular power of self-respect.

Joan Didion


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