Reasonable, within reason. Makes sense but somehow we are much harder on ourselves than we are anyone else. We have this image of the perfect, spouse, educator, friend, parent, sibling, child- yet these lofty visions are often fantasy. We can be great at many things. We can be dedicated, engaged and thoughtful. We can be kind, present and mindful. In fact most days we are. But, perfect, flawless- well not many of us fall into this category and if we are honest with ourselves- we can see this.
Some days we awaken tired, irritable, frustrated. We take offense, feel bad about ourselves and set such high expectations for our encounters- we can't keep up. There are far more variables that we can not control, than there are those we can. Yet, we panic and try to control every situation. We try to expect and anticipate- to the point of exhaustion and irritability- thus we wake up carrying that burden. A burden weighted by an expectation that we can reasonably control our world. But, if this pandemic has taught us anything- it has shown us how vulnerable we are.
I just read an article about how the Happiest countries are not in that positive frame of mind because they are wealthy, or comfortable- not even because they have great jobs and an easy life style. They rank a high level of happiness because they set reasonable expectations for themselves. They do not stand on a pedestal or avoid uncomfortable conversations. They have an outlook of - how do I fit into this world, what are my actions and how do they impact other people. In other words- they are aware of their actions- thus mindful. They remain more positive because they understand it is not permanent- it takes a lot of work.
These days we are all transitioning from a place of dread to one of hope. Some faster than others due to again- circumstances not necessarily of our own making. We are located somewhere where we have more opportunities, more options. We have choices, where in some places, those are harder to come by. But if we have reasonable expectations, we can see that. We can understand the plight of others. We can hear the call of those maybe more incensed, more enraged, more despondent than we are. It might seem reasonable to get over things quickly for some- but for others, it is not. What does reasonable mean anyway?
Expectations are again personal. We often forget that the behavior of others is based on so many factors- many we never see or hear about. Students in our classrooms are coping with this same level of frustration, exhaustion and emotional rollercoaster as we are. They are just finding it harder to understand the reason for it. They are struggling in so many ways- most of what we can't identify as of yet. Patience and mindfulness is key to set the stage for better communication and action.
I know for me, these last few weeks have been engulfed with waves of anger (for no reason many times) and isolation (quiet) and taking many things too personally. Just when I think I have a handle on my teeter-totter emotions, something else arises to send me spiraling back inwards. Inwards is where I tend to go. I am not an extrovert by any sense of the word. This ordeal has made me even less so. What I am working on most lately- setting reasonable expectations.
Not expecting from others what I need or want. Steering clear of the negative bubbles of conversation. Listening to good positive music and spending time reflecting on my emotions. Why did this student make me so frustrated today? Why are my colleagues making me feel more isolated- its not them, it is me isolating myself. You can not expect others to fill a void. The shovel is in your domain and you must find the soil to fill it. But it hurts sometimes when others are not actively seeking to help right? But it is no ones job to make you happy, to make you fit in, to make you feel connected. You must actively seek it. Set reasonable expectations of yourself and others.
When we expect- we are disappointed. When we try to shape others, we are resented. When we do not take the time to write down and reflect on our expectations of others- we put ourselves in a situation where we will feel more frustrated, more irritable, more alone. Baby steps. Set one intention a day, then two, then three. And count them as you do them. Remind yourself of your successes- your milestones and your crawls. Everyone is important. Be reasonable with yourself and others- for they have been through a lot too.
Reasonable expectations are a gift you can give yourself.
Because in the end- happiness comes behind it- like a parade. Balloons and banners waving. Marching music blaring. But parades pass. Music fades. They only way to keep the happiness parade coming back is to stay reasonable and lower your anxiety. Just be in the moment. Feel content for part of the day. Slow down and yes smell the daisies. This is reasonable expectations- this is reasonable awareness- this is reasonable daily routines and activities.
Happiness is not a lofty goal at all- it is a reasonable one, so lean in and grab it, its here....