Episode 216: Expectation and Appreciation
You’re listening to Live Free Creative, an intentional podcast with practical tips for living your life on purpose. I’m your host, Miranda Anderson, and I believe in creativity, adventure, curiosity, and the magic of small moments. I hope that every time you listen, you feel empowered and free to live the life that you want.
Hello. Welcome back to Live Free Creative podcast. I’m your host, Miranda Anderson. This is episode number 216: Expectation versus Appreciation.
It is December. I hope your lights are up. Maybe you’ve got a tree, some candles in the window. Things are feeling cozy.
And hopefully for you, they’re not too stressful right now. Hopefully you’re able to find some space in this season to feel some stillness, to feel whole, to invite the peace and joy that we all hope for at this time of year.
Sometimes it requires putting things down. I know we often think that adding, adding the next thing, adding something else, what else do I need in order to feel the way I wanna feel?
It’s sometimes counterintuitive to what actually will help, which often is putting things down. Releasing, simplifying, saying, what can I take away? What can I subtract in order to find that piece that I’m looking for?
I am excited to be sharing this episode with you today. Hopefully it will be helpful and impactful as you are going throughout this season and throughout your life.
Before I begin, I wanna share a quick peaks of the week.
Peaks of the Week
I just finished listening to a fiction book. I know I’m in the middle of grad school, and it’s very infrequent in the last few months that I’ve had the chance to listen to a fiction book. This one has been on my list and I’ve heard it talked about, and I thought I would give it a try.
It’s called Carrie Soto is Back. It’s written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, who was the author of the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones, and the six that I also absolutely loved and Malibu Rising.
This is her most recent fiction novel, Carrie Soto is back. Carrie Soto is a fictional tennis player in the eighties and nineties who is coached by her Argentine father.
She is a phenomenal, driven, incredibly competitive player, and this follows a 15 year span of her career. The novel includes a lot of tennis matches, a lot of descriptions, and I’m curious what people would think who haven’t grown up around tennis.
I personally was a child of tennis in the eighties and nineties. I grew up, my parents both played tennis. My mom still does several times a week. My sisters do. I grew up, from the time I was little, going to a tennis club and playing. I don’t think it was even an option to not.
We, all of my siblings and I, learned to play tennis from the time we were in elementary school. I was on a tennis team at the club. I was also on the tennis team in my high school. In the last 15 years since I’ve been an adult, I haven’t played as much tennis, and my sisters have just recently got back into it and it’s been really fun to see how excited they are about that and how much they love it.
I am very casually on the lookout for a tennis team or tennis group, club to join here in Richmond. Actually we’re part of a swimming pool that has tennis courts. I probably would need to start with lessons.
Anyway, all of that is beside the point. Carrie Soto Is Back, was extremely fun to listen to as a former, maybe at some point, current tennis player, I think. I think that even if you don’t have a tennis background, that Taylor Jenkins Reed does a really good job of describing the game in a way that you can picture it if you even have any exposure at all, if you can generally picture a tennis court in your mind, the green court with the white lines and the service boxes up near the net.
Regardless of the game itself, which is a big part of it, but regardless of the game itself, the characters are really interesting. I think they’re very well developed. I like their relationships, and there’s a couple sort of intense moments and a couple interesting surprises.
I listened to it on Audible. I took advantage of little snippets of time when I wasn’t studying and wasn’t working on holiday preparations to enjoy just simply being told a story.
And sometimes that feels really nice to just, it’s almost like being a kid again, letting someone tell you a story. I would recommend it to tennis players and non tennis players alike. It’s a really fun, interesting, fast paced story.
My next peak of the week is going to be especially beneficial if you live nearby because it is a new local ice creamery here in Richmond.
I believe that it started in Norfolk and is now here in Richmond. It’s called Blue Cow Creamery. It’s over if you live nearby, it’s in the village just off of Three Chopt and Patterson. I had driven by a few times, and then someone, I don’t remember who, someone mentioned it by name and I said, okay, we’ll go try it out.
I cannot stop with this ice cream. There’s something about it. My in-laws were in town last month and we took them, it was our first time going. Lots of interesting flavor, homemade ice cream. I chose a salted caramel brickle, which is has this little tiny bits of almost seafoam-like crunchy toffee, but not as crunchy as toffee, like a little softer, dark caramel flavor, almost burnt caramel that’s so delicious.
And then there’s like a mocha chip, something like coffee flavored with dark chocolate shavings in it. The combination of those two, I’m telling you is so good. I know people have strong feelings about coffee flavor. I happen to really like it.
This reminds me of when I was a kid that I went to Baskin Robbins fairly frequently. and my two favorite flavors at Baskin Robbins were Daiquiri Ice and Almond Fudge. As like an eight year old, just like cracks me up.
So if you’re nearby or if you ever get a chance to go to Blue Cow Creamery, try the salted caramel brickle and the coffee chocolate shaving situation together. It’s really good.
And that double scoop is big enough that I eat about half of it and then put it in the freezer and then I can eat it again a different day. So I get like double ice cream. Blue Cow Creamery.
I’m sorry if you don’t live nearby one. If you come visit Richmond sometime, make sure that you eat there. It’s delicious.
My final peak of the week, I may have mentioned at some point in the past four, five years, they’re these slippers, they’re called the Ainsley slippers. They cover. They’re not like the slide on ones. A lot of slippers are just slide on cover your toe situation. These have backs on them.
They’re almost like little shoes, like little loafers that are shape skin inside. The pair that I have now, I’ve probably had for three years or longer, and I buy new replacement insoles for them for $20 every year.
They are the best. They’re just the best slippers. They have rubber bottoms, so if I need to run somewhere quickly to the grocery store or something, I don’t ruin them by going outside in them.
I travel with them. I wear them around my house all the time. I very rarely have actual shoes on at home. I usually have my slippers on when I’m at home. They’re cozy in the summer. They’re cozy in the winter. And now that it’s getting colder, I crave having that warmth and fluff around my feet.
Mine are almost worn into the ground, and so I’ve been looking for another pair and around the holidays. Slippers are like a fun thing to have under the tree. They’re super practical, really cozy and nice, and these ones last forever, like up to four or five years.
So they’re about a hundred dollars, which is, on the steep side for slippers. But because they’re so well made and you can replace that insole, I feel like you, you can wear them for four to five years easily, if not longer, and definitely makes it worth the investment.
So I will link all of these things into the show notes at livefreecreative.co/podcast. This is episode 216. If you want to check any of those things out, you can, and I hope you have enjoyed these peaks.
Main Topic: Expectation vs Appreciation
Let’s talk about expectation versus appreciation.
What comes to mind for you? When I say the word expectation, what do you think of? Do you think of goals you have for yourself? Do you think of standards that you have assumed for your lifestyle for the way you hope other people will act? How does the way you think about expectation differ from when you think about appreciation?
Does expectation carry with it some sort of a weight and appreciation feel a little bit buoyant? That’s how it is for me. I think of expectation as where the bar is set and the pathway or some sort of guidelines and almost a constricting feeling around this thing is what I need to happen.
Where when I think about appreciation, it feels open and it feels the opposite. In fact, without expectation, appreciation is my ability to enjoy things that I did not expect.
Where do we find the balance between these things? Are they both important? Do they both matter? Do they both benefit? Depending on the context, I think those questions are going to have individual answers, but I do wanna share some thoughts and ideas and data with you.
Let’s first just examine the idea of expectations. What is an expectation? An expectation is defined as a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. It can also be a belief that someone will or should achieve something. Expectation and ‘should’ tend to go together fairly frequently.
And if you have listened to the podcast for any length of time, you know how I feel about the word should. That puts a burden upon other people and ourselves that is unnecessary.
Having expectations is normal. It’s part of being human. In fact, part of expectation is hope in the future, is a little bit of planning.
What falls apart is when we have expectations for things outside of our control, when our expectations are unrealistic, or when we have expectations for other people, which naturally, of course, fall outside of our control.
Young Pueblo is a philosopher on Instagram and author. I really like a lot of the thoughts that he shares, and this quote I thought was interesting, specifically talking about relationships.
He has a quote that says, “Relationships enter a new level of harmony when both people do their best to go from attachment to connection and from expectations to voluntary commitment. Attachments or expectations arise from the need to control, connection or voluntary commitments arise from mutual understanding.”
While this is specifically talking about and relating to relationships, the same things happen in relationships to ourselves. We feel a level of harmony and balance within ourselves. We have a connection to ourselves and a voluntary commitment, an interest and enjoyment, in the things that we’re pursuing, rather than an attachment to an expectation.
Some interesting research and data around the idea of expectation comes from Barry Schwartz. He has a great book that I highly recommend. It’s called The Paradox of Choice. I will link it in the show notes.
As I was reading this book, one of the things that stood out to me was the idea of expectation, and he talks about how when we set our expectation and it’s not met, we feel bad, we’re disappointed.
Having an expectation that it’s unmet brings or invites a lot of negativity, whereas when we have an expectation that is met, that yields a lot of positive emotions. So expectation can be both good and bad, depending on whether or not it’s fulfilled.
Knowing this can help us when we are going to place expectations to be clear about where we are putting our expectations and how realistic or reasonable they are.
Barry Schwartz gives an example of how when low expectations are met or exceeded, people feel great. Even if that end point where they arrive is lower objectively than someone else’s high expectation that isn’t met.
So let me give you an example of this. If I have an expectation that I will be paid $15 for completing an hour of babysitting and, after I finish the job, I’m given $10, I’m going to feel disappointed because my expectation was not met.
Whereas if I, in the same scenario, have an expectation of making $6 for the babysitting hour and I make eight, I’m going to feel excited and appreciative even when the expectation is met–my end result of $8–is lower than the end result of $10 with a higher expectation. I feel much better.
This is obviously a very simplified example and most of us are not being paid for babysitting right now, at least those of you listening. My kids might.
Think about how this same idea applies to different areas of your life. If you have an expectation that, when you tell your kids to clean their rooms, in 15 minutes everything will be put away and look perfect, and you go in there after 15 minutes and they’ve barely begun and maybe they have made their bed and that’s it.
If that happens, you might feel frustrated, where if you have an expectation that your kids will pick up their room by the end of the afternoon and it’ll be mostly done and you go in and check on it later in the day and it’s put together, their bed is made, you might feel better about it.
This isn’t to say that I’m prescribing what expectations are good and bad, or what you should have as expectations in your life. That will vary from person to person.
I do think it’s really important that we acknowledge the psychology of expectations, that when you have unmet expectations, you’re going to feel disappointed. You will have more negative emotion because of where you put your expectations than if you allow yourself to release some of the attachment to those outcomes.
If you allow yourself to set down some expectations or maybe bring them into a world of reason, I want you to take a couple minutes to think about, right now, some expectations in your life right now that aren’t met. Or some things that you hope for that you just keep wanting, that you don’t get, whether expectations of the way your husband will do something, your kids will do something, you will show up somehow.
What are some of those expectations that continually are not met and that’s frustrating for you? That it’s stressful and annoying and disappointing. Where are some expectations in your life that are causing you unnecessary negative emotion and grief.
Take a look at those and consider whether or not they’re reasonable, whether or not they’re as important as you’re making them out to be. Whether you can loosen your grip a little bit on them. Can you release the expectation, maintain some hope and connection, but release the expectation?
What happens when we start to release expectation and attachment to outcomes is that we invite appreciation.
Appreciation is defined as recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something, or a full understanding of the situation.
Appreciation is gratitude, appreciation builds us up, fills our cup, feels good. It is in and of itself a positive emotion and it builds other positive emotions.
When we start to replace expectations in our life with appreciation for reality, appreciation for what is, we feel better.
Not only that, but have you ever felt appreciated by someone else? What does it inspire when you feel appreciated? For a lot of people, feeling appreciated inspires you to continue to work hard and do better.
Appreciation inspires progress. It’s motivating. It feels great. You feel like you’ve been valued and seen and that you belong, that you’re contributing. Appreciation builds connection.
Contrast that to expectation. Do you ever feel like you are expected to do things? Do you expect things of yourself? And when you do them, does it feel good? Do people applaud or do they simply say, okay, yeah, that’s what you were supposed to.
The other day, I asked my oldest to bring his laundry up to the laundry room, and I mentioned that I was gonna do his laundry. And he said something like, yeah, because that’s your job now.
It is not my job to do my 13 year old’s laundry. It’s not my job to do anyone’s laundry, except for maybe my own, and I do it because it’s one of the ways that I contribute to my family. You better believe that we had a nice conversation about expectations and about appreciation and the difference.
I think a lot of women and mothers feel like we are expected to do things, like the burden of responsibility for care taking and for household management falls fairly squarely upon our shoulders, and a lot of times that is a thankless job.
Those roles and responsibilities and tasks are expected rather than appreciated.
Can you imagine how it would feel if we weren’t expected to do any of those things? If we didn’t expect them of ourselves, if they came as Young Pueblo suggested as voluntary commitments.
What follows voluntary commitments is appreciation, gratitude, and acknowledgement. I want you to consider where you are expecting things of other people and how you might adjust those expectations to yield appreciation.
Instead, where can you drop the attachment to outcomes and allow what is and feel gratitude and appreciation for what is happening, for relationships, for the best that people can do, I really believe that most of us are doing our best, most of the time.
And if we’re not living up to some standard of expectation, it’s probably not because we are not doing a good job. It’s probably because the expectation is a little bit high for us.
I absolutely see this in parenthood. A few years ago I talked to Ralphie Jacobs, who is a positive parenting expert and educator. That is episode number 68 on the podcast, if you want to go listen to that about intentional parenting.
One of the most impactful lessons that I learned from Ralphie in that interview is that parenting is lowering our expectations to what is real about kids. That kids are loud, that they’re whiny, that they’re noisy, that they don’t sleep well, they don’t eat well a lot of the time, that they require a lot of attention, and that these things are all developmentally perfect for their different age groups.
I, at the time, had a kid who was 8, 9, 10, getting into that middle age, and I was concerned about some lying, and I listened to this episode on armchair expert with a Dak Shepherd. He talked to a psychologist, a child psychologist, who said 10 year olds lie, that’s what they do. That’s a really critical element of this developmental process.
And I felt such relief that my expectation of having a child that never told a lie, that always was honest about everything, could be dropped because it wasn’t realistic.
The more we know about what is normal, that doesn’t mean it always is coming from somewhere else, from psychology or from developmental understandings–the more you get to know the people in your lives as individuals, the more you know what’s normal for them.
Maybe your kid doesn’t line up with the developmental spectrum exactly. Maybe you don’t. Maybe the season you’re in means that all bets are off, and that if you just get out of bed that you’ve done your best for the day
That understanding, that release of expectations, yields and invites gratitude and appreciation for what is and when we can find that appreciation for what is, every other aspect of our life feels better.
We become open and curious and hopeful. We can settle into, instead of feeling that restriction and constriction of not quite getting there, we recognize that we’re doing a good job and recognizing we’re doing a good job.
It’s otivating. It’s encouraging. It’s helpful. Not only that, recognizing that other people around us are doing a good job is motivating and helpful and feels good, our relationships are able to deepen.
Our connection grows stronger when we meet people where they are. There is something to the idea that our expectations for people, that people also can rise to them. That is always done with a combination of expectation and appreciation. That we know that our kids can do a good job. We expect that they do a good job, and whatever they do, we recognize as a good job.
Hopefully, this discussion of expectation and appreciation has given you a chance to do some self-reflection on what expectations in your lives may not be serving you, what expectations you may have that, by clinging onto them tightly, you are inviting negative emotion and negative energy into your life.
Where you could replace those or loosen your grip on them to invite gratitude and appreciation instead, which then will begin an upward spiral of feeling better about yourself, your life, and your relationships.
Speaking of expectation and appreciation, I am thoroughly grateful every single week that you tune in to Live Free Creative podcast, that you lend your attention here for a time.
My hope is that every episode gives you just a little something to shift your perspective a little bit, to allow you to increase your wellbeing just a little bit through knowledge and understanding and self-reflection and appreciation.
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See you later.