There are usually two things that cause distress in our day-to-day experiences. One is unrealistic expectations - how we expect things should be, or how we think others should behave. The second is not being mindful in the moment. So what can we do about it?
Living in the moment is essential for dealing with the stresses of everyday life. How much time do we spend every day waiting for the next thing to happen, thinking about the next thing we have to do, or ruminating about something that’s past?
The secret is not only to stay in the present moment, but to find positivity in it. What is amazing and wondrous? What can we be grateful for? What lesson can we take from this moment, right now? Observe not only your environment and what's around you, but how you're feeling - both emotionally and physically - and what you're thinking. Let negative self-talk drift away, and replace it with positive affirmations.
Staying present in the moment can be an exhausting task, and it’s not easy. Something happens, though, when we do so - we become calmer, more focused, less clumsy, and joy over the experience of life arises. Prejudices and dislikes give way to acceptance and peace.
There will be many times, even after you think you’ve mastered this skill, that you find your mind wandering into the future or the past. When you notice it happening, gently bring your mind back to the present without judgement. Remember the saying, “Energy flows where attention goes.”
What about unreasonable expectations? What do we do about them?
By being mindful of our thoughts, we'll start to notice when we think, "It shouldn't be like this!" or, "They shouldn't act that way!" You may be right. But that's not what happened, is it? Life isn't fair. Things happen that are unpleasant that we don't deserve, and people frequently don't behave the way we think they ought to. The result is that we put pressure on ourselves, learn to be a "victim," or become cynical and angry. There is a better way.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself, starting right now, in order to readjust your expectations:
-Is there anything positive or constructive I can do about this?
-How important is this, really?
-What higher good could come from this?
-What lesson(s) can I learn from this?
-What in this experience can I find gratitude for? (Hint: It might be only that you had the strength to get through it, but there is always something.)
-Remind yourself that everything tends to work out in the end.
-Remind yourself that the only person over whom you have control is you.Why did someone else behave the way they did? Find compassion for their point of view.
-What could I have done differently?
-Will this matter in 5 years?
-Will my expectations change the way someone else behaves?
-Why is having things my way important?
-What was I thinking about when a negative situation arose? Could my response have really been about something else?
Try changing your perspective on events that would normally be stressful. Develop an "attitude of gratitude" and display it every day!