Well, What Did You Expect?

March 05, 2012

Saturday afternoon, my husband and I were in a minor fender bender. We weren’t hurt, the damage to our car is minimal, and the other driver’s insurance should cover the repair. While we waited for the police to arrive, my thoughts took the following turn: “Great. Here’s one more poopy thing happening to me this year. 2012 is shaping up just as poorly as 2011. What is going to happen next?”

I sat in my car, unhurt, watching the breeze blow Spanish moss on the oak trees while white fluffy clouds scudded across a blue sky, thinking poor, pitiful me thoughts. That was bad enough, but what bothered me most was the mindset I seem to have fallen into: being on the lookout for catastrophe. I don’t deny that bad things do happen, but this expecting catastrophe mindset is draining happiness out of my life, making me cringe and cower as I face each day, as if waiting for blows to fall. That’s not how I want to live!

A friend and I have an ongoing joke about “fresh hells”—as in “What fresh hell is this?”  At least, it started as a joke, a way to lighten up when something bad happened, as bad things do from time to time. We use the image and the phrase to help us laugh when we want to cry, and as a shorthand for some unwanted and un-looked for experiences. I don’t want necessarily to give up this joke, but maybe it’s time to add a positive version? Fresh heaven, perhaps?

Really, I’m grateful for my life, and the many beautiful things in it. Perhaps it’s time to go back to making lists of things I’m grateful for and things that make me happy. I believe we mostly find what we’re looking for, what we expect, and if my expectations are that things will be happy and good, they will be more likely to end up that way.

I’m expecting better things of 2012. How about you? How have your expectations affected your life?

Looking for a smile? You'll find one...

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  1. So sorry to hear about your mishap. I know what you mean about attitude being key. Things can sure get me down, but I just try to find where the light is coming from. I tell myself to "find the joy in my life" because I know it is there... I just need to look for it.

  2. "I believe we mostly find what we’re looking for, what we expect, and if my expectations are that things will be happy and good, they will be more likely to end up that way."

    That's it in a nutshell—we find what we're looking for and it's soooooo easy to fall into the trap of looking for disaster.

    Glad you weren't hurt and that your back on the positive side of life again.

    Each day is a conscious choice for me—up or down? Today is a good day, no, scratch that, today is a great day!

    I'll worry about tomorrow when it gets here.

  3. So glad you weren't hurt and even that the car damage was minimal. Maybe this can be a wake up call to turning your attitude around - because you're right that we find what we're looking for. Maybe a gratitude journal would help?

  4. I hear you, Kathy! Been thinking the same thing about 2012 and the end of 2011.

    Long ago a friend told me to never ask "What's next!", because we will be sure to find out. Right now I'm looking around wondering who will die next, because there seems to be a rash of that going around in our family.

    I try to just keep celebrating the positive the best I can, and go through the motions of doing my own work. There are heavy things going on with others right now, and I will try my best to support them.

    Glad that you were not hurt in the accident. Hugs!

    Kathy M.

  5. Claire--I like your motto--"find the joy in life"--there's always some to be found.

  6. Laure--While I'm not "glad" we had an accident, I am glad I had a chance to notice that negative thinking. I'm going to make the choice to look for the positive every day.

  7. Cheryl--That's exactly how I thought of this: a wake up call. I've used gratitude journals in the past, but haven't for a while. Maybe that's a practice I should return to.

  8. Kathy--I'm sorry you've been having a rough go of it. And saying, "What Next?" is not a challenge to the universe!

  9. Well, we are all glad that the accident is now in your rear-view window, so to speak! I am grateful that things weren't worse for you.

    It's so easy to get enmeshed in the ever-present negativity around us - and boy, have things been hard for everyone. Top off the floundering economy and rising prices with an election year and it's a wonder we manage to put a smile on our faces!

    I guess it's up to us to change the world!

  10. I'm hoping this minor accident will be a turning point for my attitude. I've had a good week as far as that's concerned, and have been looking for the positive as much as possible.

  11. It is scary to be in a fender bender even if you aren't hurt. It can certainly be good cause for a bad mood as I would figure you two had plans for your day that did not include that interruption! But you are right that dwelling on it too long can make the year seem to be going down hill at a faster and faster rate. I too need to be thinking more positive thoughts. It can be hard work if you aren't a glass is ALWAYS full kind of person but lets say it can be done and start doing the thinking!

  12. It's jarring in more ways than one to be in a fender bender, that's for sure. But I've been feeling a lot more cheerful lately, and I think it helped to make the decision not to expect bad things to happen. My glass is filling up!