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You may have remembered from my post earlier this year that I was planning a month-long trip to Australia, Bali and Hong Kong. I’d mentioned that this trip was a long, long time coming—something I’ve wanted to do for over a decade.

For a few weeks after I booked my flights, the excitement was intense. I couldn’t wait to plan what I would do, where I would stay and have friends connect me to their friends in the cities I would be visiting. I envisioned a fabulous, relaxing trip full of fun, adventure and maybe even a little romance. However, my expectations were high, and I didn’t account for the fact that real life doesn’t take a vacation.

The thing about expectations is that they rarely lead to happiness. In fact, more often than not, our expectations deliver nothing but disappointment. {Tweet it!}

So when my back went out, I lost my credit card and I encountered let’s just say some not so nice people, I got REALLY upset. All of a sudden the “bad” overtook the good, and it became very difficult to turn it around. My attachment to the way I had expected my trip to go sent me into survival mode, and I spent a good majority of the trip simply surviving until I could make it back to the states.

Sometimes you don’t even know you’re setting absurd expectations. You may mistake them for clarity on what your want, or high standards or whatever, but honestly expectations are just a set of arbitrary guidelines you made up in your head.

I don’t think expectations are entirely bad or useless, but we have to be willing to let go of them at a moment’s notice and deal with the present moment powerfully. Most of us, myself included, aren’t always so good at that.

Despite everything that went “wrong” I don’t want you to think that the trip was a waste. I admit I slipped into that thought from time to time along the way, but each time I did something would happen—I’d meet a kind and beautiful person, I’d experience something I never had before (like surfing in Byron Bay or the hospitality of the Indonesian people or the infamous and quite hilariously random mouse on the plane incident on my first flight over to Hong Kong).

When these things would happen, they would remind me that sometimes reality can exceed your expectations. I didn’t plan for any of those awesome experiences and yet they ended up being the highlights of my trip.

Practice letting go, especially of expectations. Because when you start to master letting go, you will see there is so much to be gained.