Have you ever had one of those days where at the end of it, you reflect back and say, "Wow, that was a really good day!"? Perhaps nothing extraordinary happened, but what did occur just fell into place beautifully.
I had one of those days last week. I was smiling at the end of it. I thought back over the day's events and took a quick inventory.
No fashion crisis when getting dressed, on time for work, an interesting and eventful day in the salt mines, good conversation and lots of laughter with friends, topped off by a delightful and serendipitous evening.
Yep, it was all good.
It brought to mind several thoughts, all of which I'm going to share with you now. Aren't you excited?
I ran into friends the other night who were headed to Denmark for two weeks. She had lived there for a period of time during her schooling, so I asked her if what I had heard about Denmark was true, that it is the happiest country on Earth.
Now, while I always thought that was Disneyland, my friend clued me into the ancient Danish secret to happiness. She said they simply have low expectations. They, in turn, don't live with the disappointment of high expectations. Hmm? Go figure.
I had no particular expectations for that fabulous day. I was well rested and had a good attitude, and after that, I think it just sort of took on a life of its own. If I had tried to plan it and consciously wanted it to be some in particular, it probably would have fallen short of my desired expectations. And then I would not been left with that happy, shiny, glowy feeling.
I think expectations can easily ruin a good thing. Set your expectations too high and you're bound to be disappointed. Set low expectations, or create none, and you're likely to be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
This is not to say we should be an aimless people without goals or ambitions. I don't think those two lifestyles are mutually exclusive. We can live with intention and purpose, but learn to appreciate the process as much as the result.
Back in the '70s, my parents attended a seminar on this topic. While we were in Oregon, my parents were far from being a part of the self-aware, commune-living, hippy culture. (Anyone who knows them is now laughing at the mere suggestion of this idea!) But they embraced the concepts taught at the class of determining your goals, clarifying in your mind what you really want by writing them down, and stating them aloud through daily affirmations. No expectations; they were just facts.
I remember at the time being mad that I was too young for the daily affirmations, but I now laugh when thinking about it because of the "Saturday Night Live" character, Stuart Smalley, looking at the mirror and affirming to himself, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." Jocularity aside, the overall concept holds true.
I totally buy into the whole power of positive thinking thing or, in today's vernacular, "putting it out there into the universe." Knowing what you want and how to achieve it, making your own goals come true and not depending on others to make them for you, these are the road to happiness.
And that road does not need to be blocked by your own unrealistic expectations or the expectations that others have for you.
I have been called many things in my day, some of which cannot be printed here, but usually they are of the optimist, upbeat variety.
I have never taken offense at being called perky, because the alternative is dull. I love being around people who look for the bright side, who exude positive energy and believe in the good of human nature. I think they bring out the best in other people.
To find our own happiness, we can't expect everything to be perfect, for every experience to be epic. My one lovely day has reminded me that I just need to relax and enjoy the time.
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards writes weekly for the Vail Daily. She can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org