Expectations and Disappointment

Orchid and Bamboo painting by Johnson Su-sing Chow in his book Fundamentals of Chinese Floral Painting Vol. 2: Book of the Orchid.

Expectations and Disappointment

I've often found myself in conversation with people who dislike disappointment so much that they are willing to lower their expectations so far as a way to guarantee that they will never have to experience disappointment.

What is so wrong with this? It is a common Buddhist teaching to release expectations as a way to avoid disappointment and more gracefully accept whatever life experience comes your way.

The problem lies in the fact that positive expectation is one of the most powerful ways to manifest your desires. Have you noticed this in your life? Many of us have subjects in our life where our positive expectation is so consistent that things (at least in this area) almost always work out for the best. This may be with something as simple as finding a parking spot. Many people who are very good at their job experience this. You get to the point on certain subjects where you just expect good things to happen and almost always they do.

No Difference Between a Shack and a Skyscraper

One of the things that is hard for people to understand is that the Universe does not distinguish between difference subjects. As far as the Universe is concerned, it is just as easy to create a shack and it is to create a skyscraper. So why is it that we find it easy to create positive expectation in some areas but not others.

When the subject is not that important to us, it is much easier to expect good things. The stakes are lower and the risk of disappointment is lower. It is easy to think "I always find a great parking spot." But when it comes to subjects like money or relationships, the importance of those subjects to our happiness, makes it more difficult to expect the best things and risk disappointment. If we want to harness the power of positive expectation in areas where it can deliver us the most benefit, we must learn to apply it all areas of our life.

What Happens When You Expect the Best and the Best Does Not Happen

Hope Versus Expectation

Sometimes when we think we are have positive expectation, what we really have is hope. The actor Jim Carrey is well known for writing himself a $10,000,000 check before he had ever made any real money as an actor. He wrote the check to himself for "acting services rendered." He dated the check for Thanksgiving 1995 and believe it or not, just before Thanksgiving of 1995, he was offered a starring role in the movie Dumb and Dumber for exactly $10,0000,000. Jim Carrey is often quoted as saying "I don't believe in hope. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through fire, faith leaps over it." Hope is not a bad place to be on the scale of emotions but positive expectation is better and is a more powerful and consistent way to manifest your desires.

Patience and Persistence is Required

In the reality we live in, we are given a buffer of time before our thoughts turn into things. So often what happens when we are disappointed is that we haven't allowed sufficient time for our positive expectation to create a result. Unfortunately after this initial disappointment, many abandon their positive expectations and the creative power that comes with them.

Practical Tips

  • Notice the power of your positive expectations in the easier areas of your life. You always expect to have another breath of fresh air. Most of us have an expectation that the sun will make an appearance. These are such critical things to our well being yet they are taken care of so automatically that our positive expectation is unshakeable.
  • Whenever you are tempted to feel disappointment, remember that persistent, positive expectation over time guarantees the desired outcome.
  • When you start using positive expectation, looks for signs. If you are begin to expect richer experiences in Chinese painting, note and begin to enjoy any small evidence. An opportunity to study with a teacher may cross your path, a sunset may inspire you, a piece of video instruction may appear on your social media account.
  • If certain subjects are difficult to establish positive expectation, find another subject. Start with easy ones like grandchildren or favorite pass times. Being in a happier emotional state even if your focus is on a different subject is often more effective at making your dreams come true than focusing on the dream in a negative way.
Artist improvement


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