When Life Doesn’t Meet Our Expectations

I love going to the beach. There’s hardly anything more relaxing than sitting on the beach. It’s so calming and peaceful. The sounds of the ocean rushing in and out, the blue sky above giving the perfect hue of blue to your view, the heat of the sun shining on your skin and reflecting up off the sand, and the wind blowing in from the expansive sea bringing with it the aroma of freedom and possibilities.

Blue skies, Blue ocean

My first trip to the beach ever, though, was not so glorious.

When I was a senior in high school I was presented with the opportunity to go on a “Senior Trip” with my classmates to Galveston, Texas. I was pretty excited about it since I had never been to the ocean in my life and was really looking forward to diving right in and enjoying the water. Unfortunately, we went during our Spring Break in March and the weather didn’t cooperate with the warm temperatures we had hoped for. Instead, it was in the sixties and raining for most of our stay. Undaunted, we traveled down to the beach to walk around and really take in the sights.

Remember, this was my first time ever to the ocean and I had my expectations set pretty high. I was dreaming of standing on the shore and looking out at the beautiful blue sky with the sun dancing off the amazingly clear water. But that wasn’t my reality. Instead, we were standing on the densely-packed sand of the Texas island coast, looking out at an overcast sky, staring at a large body of blue-gray water, and experiencing the rush of the brown waves of tide rolling in and hitting our bare skin with all the force of its 50 degree temperature! Not exactly the fulfillment of my dreams.

Sometimes life doesn’t quite meet our expectations, but should that stop us in our tracks hoping for some other reality to take the place of the one we’re living? Or would we be better served by embracing what comes and making the most of it?

A lot of what we call “happiness” is really just a simple equation that looks something like:

life conditions = life expectations

When the conditions of our lives meet our expectations, then we are happy. When the conditions of our lives (in my case the trip to the murky, cold gulf coast) don’t meet our expectations (the dream of seeing blue skies and clear, blue water) then we aren’t happy.

The great part about seeing our happiness as an equation is that, when we are unhappy there are two choices we can make: wait for our conditions to change, or change our expectations. Obviously, the former option keeps you waiting for something new to come into your life, while the latter option supposes that something new can come out of you.

“Only two things change your life: either something new comes into your life, or something new comes out of you.” -Brendon Burchard

Maybe you’re having a moment in your life right now like the one I was having on the beach in Galveston, Texas. The circumstances that surround you just aren’t in sync with your expectations of how things should be. Maybe you’re being treated poorly by someone who you think should be treating you well. Maybe you’re being taken for granted by someone who you think should be showing more appreciation. Maybe your position in life just isn’t at all the way you had planned it and you’re having trouble moving forward.

The great news is, we don’t have to wait for something new to come into our lives in order to be happy. We can change what we are expecting from the world around us, employ some new strategies, and create happiness with what we’ve got.

So, what are you waiting for? Something new to come into your life? Or will you stop waiting for your conditions to change and, instead, alter your expectations? The choice is yours.


Have you ever experienced this crossroads between conditions and expectations? If so, please share it with us and inspire others in the comments section below.


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