The Unbearable Freedom of not Having Expectations

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Have you ever thought about how often we feel total freedom in our lives and how frequently we taste real freedom?

Look at our working lives. Who among us has the luxury of stopping working and saying, “I don’t feel like working today”? Even if you were the boss, it wouldn’t always be possible. Mountains of postponed work would be waiting for you when you returned to work because of your responsibility to do it. Schedules need to be adhered to, objectives have to be achieved, and reports have to be prepared. As you see, they all have that “have to be done” nature.

Look at everyday life as well. Shopping, cleaning, visiting and seeing to the needs of close family, socializing, and so on are all very important as well. None of them can be delayed for long. One way or another, they “have to be done.” Otherwise, in addition to the inconvenience of living in a dirty apartment, ordering fast food for days, and lacking a decent conversation with friends, we would, even worse, have a growing “guilty feeling” inside us.

I will not delve into the definition of freedom, such as where it starts or ends, or whether it has limits or not. What I do know, however, is that even someone like me—single with no children, no need to work, and enough money to go wherever I want—cannot feel freedom in every moment of life.

We need to create room for it in our lives, otherwise the “have to be done” things dominate every moment of life, and we feel trapped in the illusion of time.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the “have to be done” things limit our freedom. On the contrary, we could feel more trapped if they are not satisfied. They also prepare the mental and physical environment we need to create our own sphere of freedom.
If you are like me, you also face the danger of changing everything you started for pleasure into an obligation. Do you know what triggers this? It’s having expectations…

Whenever we have expectations for any of our actions, we start losing the opportunity to fully enjoy it, because we shift our focus from the action itself to the outcome we expect. Only the result becomes important, and the action becomes an obligation for us.
We feel a delicious moment of victory if the result meets our expectations. When it doesn’t, we consider the action a waste of time and resolve to not repeat it.

This is maybe why hobbies please us so much. Because we do not have any expectations or long-term plans for them, we just enjoy them in the moment.

Having said that, have I ever told you that once upon a time, I used to be a hobby monster? Unfortunately, I didn’t have the patience to develop any of them, simply because I expected to enjoy them too much. As you can guess, exactly for this reason, I didn’t enjoy most of them, so I jumped from one to another. 🙂

In a seminar I attended, the tutor gave us an assignment to do something only for ourselves. It could be anything we would enjoy doing that comes from our hearts, without any expectation of a result. Considering my track record with hobbies made me think a lot about what I could do. I later remembered my interest in learning Spanish. I thought, “Sure, I’ll take Spanish classes, but this time I’ll leave my expectations at home.”

If you think I learned to speak Spanish fluently at the end of this story, you are wrong. 🙂 The class I took was a 16-hour introduction to Spanish for beginners. I just enjoyed an environment where the only spoken language was Spanish without being a formal student. I met a nice Spanish teacher named Alicia and a very interesting student group. Did I learn Spanish? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes, I really did.

I try to maintain the same spirit on my blog. This is my area of freedom. Although it’s very important to me, I have no expectations from it. It is my only playground where I feel happiness when I write but no guilt when I don’t. It teaches me through experience to create only for pleasure, and this leads me to apply it to other aspects of my life.

I wish I could decrease my level of expectation in every part of my life, focusing on whatever I do and feeling the emotions more deeply for actually doing it. These emotions may be worry, pleasure, anger, or joy, but regardless, it saves me from the captivity of result-oriented expectations and gives me the freedom to live the moment during the process of life.

If you think about it, all the “have to be done” things that I mentioned above always have an element of expectation. The nature of these things creates and feeds those expectations. “Living the moment and letting your expectations go” is easier said than done, but like everything else, it can be learned. Do you know how?

Creating small areas of freedom for ourselves helps free us from our expectations. By having fun in these playgrounds, like children, and pausing whenever we are tired, we enjoy them without reasons or results and only do what we feel like doing.

In this way, we learn to free ourselves from expectation in baby steps. So skilled we will be at this play that we will be able to extend it to our lives in general. Once we look, our whole lives are turned into huge playgrounds where we can play freely. This just happens spontaneously.

Now, think for a moment. What do you have in your life that you do just because you feel like doing it, where you feel great relief when you do it but not a single piece of guilt when you don’t?

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw



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