This is a reminder to myself. Here are all of the others.
Expectation is the root of all heartache. -William Shakespeare
I think it’s well understood why expectation leads to suffering. If we preface happiness on the fact that something is expected to happen, and it doesn’t, we end up disappointed. If you never have expectations, you never feel disappointed.
I find it useful to digest this, but I think how I should implement this in my life requires more thought.
For instance, is it bad that I value the long-term and that I’ve identified I want to build a family, or work towards physical health? These could be construed as expectations for the future.
Will I be disappointed if I don’t have kids, given that I’ve externalized this as a desire? I’m not sure.
I believe thinking in a domain of uncertainty, as is the case with the future, has some caveats. It’s clear that without some long-term thinking, you can easily derail your life. For instance, I might feel justified to smoke cigarettes because the short-term cost is not as important as the short-term rush. It’s only when viewed in the integration over days that smoking truly appears unappealing.
I believe the importance of long-term thinking is clear, but should be guided by the following principles:
It provides a framework for the present moment, which is the only thing worth exploring. If I’ve determined that being a great father is something that may end up in my future, I’m content to spend the present moment learning how to be a great father.
This does not imply, however, that I expect or will end up a father. I will carry on with my days irrespective of if the long-term is realized. I’ll be able to do so knowing my short-term is correctly aligned.
In summary, I feel confident that long-term thinking is simply a means to feel content in the present. I’m detached from the result and try not to bind myself to the long-term goals.