Most of your suffering comes from expectation. Right? Trade your expectation for appreciation. Your whole life changes in that moment. Suffering ends in that moment. – Tony Robbins
Today, Lara Jean went to her new home. She was purchased for $5 by an eleven-year-old boy who is so excited to tell his friends he has a pet chicken. He’ll probably change her name to something boyish, like Blaze or Brownie, but she’ll be liked and loved and treated well. He didn’t even know that eggs came from chickens, weirdly enough.
Also today was my last day as a housekeeper. After nearly half a decade, I said goodbye to my squeaky cleaning cart, slipped a thank-you note beneath my (now former) manager’s office door, and walked out. And that brief, polite few moments taught me two very important lessons and reminded me of two very important things:
- I want to be someone who regularly writes thank-you notes. Because people are so kind and so good to me, and I want to show my appreciation for that. I want to share my gratitude. I want them to know that I notice and I care that they go out of their way to be helpful or kind.
- I want to walk away from more things that aren’t right for me. Because, as a creature of habit and a lover of comfort, I stay in places that are uncomfortable or downright unpleasant simply because it’s what I know or, worse, I don’t know what else is out there. I want to be a person who trusts her gut, who knows when to get out of a situation, and who isn’t afraid to say “no” and find something else.
Most of my suffering, as Tony Robbins said, does come from expectation. I expect things to be horrible. I don’t know what to expect. Things don’t go how I expected them to go. And, yes, you can find things to appreciate even in the darkest of times – even (movie) Dumbledore reminded us that “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light!” – but I want more than that. I want a life I can be grateful for without having to try so hard.
My mom used to tell me, when I was sad or sick or in pain, to “offer up your suffering.” She said that my suffering could mean that I was taking on the suffering of a starving child in Africa or an abused orphan in Asia. She wanted me to be grateful for the pain, to know that there are others who suffer worse, and to offer myself up to take away that pain.
I never understood that, but I think I do now: There are some things that you can do nothing about. You can’t help it if your ankle is sprained or your heart is broken or you have the flu. But you can determine how you react to them. Do you rock back and forth and feel sorry for yourself or do you accept the pain for what it is and feel grateful for other things? That you have food on the table. That you don’t have the plague. That you learned lessons from your ended relationship. That you know love.
It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself every once in awhile, but that’s no way to live. The only way to live is with gratitude, with appreciation, because that builds grace and we should all aspire to exist in a state of grace.