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March 31, 2014

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My brother came to visit last weekend and the whole week had been sunny here in Switzerland. Thankfully the lovely weather stayed until Friday but then fled the country for 3 days. The warm sunshine was replaced with a steady decline in temperature and cold rain. And boy did it rain! What fascinated me though was the reaction of my brother. He had come with the intention of spending a few days hiking in the alpine mountains amidst sunshine and blue skies. Sadly the weekend weather (supported by webcams that showed grey fog and not a lot else up in the peaks) meant this was not going to happen.

My brother was very upset by this, and his disappointment, like the weather, hung like a cloud over him for the whole weekend. We devised an indoor schedule and did other things but it just wasn’t up to the imagined hiking joy he had planned in his head over the last few weeks. This led me to reflect on how difficult it can be to manage our expectations. I discussed this with my brother and we agreed that it wasn’t a good idea to drop all expectations in life (they often act as fuel to succeed and more forward), but somehow maintaining some flexibility is helpful when life doesn’t go according to plan.

I could fully understand my brothers disappointment but I also realised that my mindset is somewhat different and I think this may be due to all my studies in both Mindfulness and Psychology. When I go away for the weekend, I might make a few plans but generally I tend to go with the flow. I often have a few ideas for both sets of weather but focus more on being and enjoying the moment. I am also very aware of building things up before I go away and have definitely learnt to not get too carried away with this. So when those excitable thoughts come and my mind gets distracted by all the things I might be able to do, I bring myself back to the present and try to enjoy what’s going on for me right here and now. At the moment the weather is glorious and I am loving the warmth, the sunshine, the birds tweeting away and the promise of longer lighter evenings ahead. Tomorrow it may be rainy and stormy and that will also be fine. If it rains then I will make the most of that weather and enjoy the sound of the rain, the fact the flora and fauna get a much needed drink, and the contrast to other weather. I guess what I try to do is cultivate a sense of gratitude for what life gives me and hold the awareness that high expectations that do not get met can impinge on that. I want to leave you with these three words to reflect on which I realise might be essential for an increased appreciation of your next planned event or trip: flexibility, adaptability and gratitude.

 

“Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.” 
Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings 

 

As for my brother – he plans to come again in the summer and is forever hopeful that the sunshine will appear (but he says he will be more flexible next time and bring an umbrella as well as his hiking boots!)

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