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Perceptions and Expectations

Posted Jul 10 2011 5:11pm
“You expect the worst, and you always get your way...” -Cold War Kids, Out of the Wilderness
Have you ever noticed how our expectations and the way we perceive our circumstances dictate how we experience life? For example... Let’s say you live in a very dry area and there has been little to no rain for the last few months, but a storm is starting to roll in. Now, if you are a farmer, and you hope for a good rain to support your crops,  you will rejoice at the very first rain drop. Now, let’s say it’s your wedding day and an outside wedding has been planned. The much needed rain will not be met with the same hopeful anticipation, will it? In fact, it will most likely bring about anxiety and disappointment. This rain, although it is needed in the grand scheme of things, can bring about hope and dismay at the same time, depending on our expectations and perceptions. In this situation, our expectations and perceptions will have no impact on whether or not the rain comes, but it will determine how we react to and grow from our experience. If the bride, whose plans for a beautiful outside wedding have been ruined, is able to see this rain as the answer to the farmer’s plans, it may ease the disappointment she feels. She will not have to dwell on these feelings for long, and will be able to move on to her back-up plan and enjoy her big day. If, however, she is not able to see past her own misfortune, she will spend her whole day wallowing in self pity and her memories from this special day will most likely be of a negative nature. Which day would you prefer to have? The difference between a good day and a bad day lies within your perception- how do you see your life experiences? Are you able to see how everything that happens to you can serve a purpose? Or are you unable to see past your own disappointment? 
Switching gears here, have you ever met someone who is always able to find something negative to point out about every situation? If you always look for the negative, you will find it, but what good does that serve? These people tend to be exhausting to spend much time around. If you are excited about something, they like to point out why you shouldn’t be. If you stumble upon a great idea, they enjoy explaining to you why it won’t work, or what could possibly go wrong. If you receive a piece of good news, they will be there to show you the downside to your circumstances. What can this do except discourage you? And if they are there to refer you to the negative side of everything, can you imagine how negative their own lives must be? If your first response is always to assess the situation, find any potential complication, limitation, or trouble, and then assume you will undoubtedly encounter this issue, I guarantee you will. Now hear me out... I’m not saying that you shouldn’t logically think through your life choices and circumstances. What I am saying is, the way you expect things to turn out and the way you perceive what cards you have been dealt will determine the level of contentment and enjoyment you will experience in life. We are only given one life. We can either choose to spend it in fear of what could possibly go wrong or upset over what has gone wrong, or we can enjoy each moment we are given. There will be times of heartache, disappointment, and tragedy that are inevitable. But the way we perceive life... our relationships, our successes and failures, our passions, our purpose... Our perceptions of these things dictate the fullness with which our lives are experienced. We can either choose to live a life filled with anxiety, sadness, discouragement, and an expectation for the worst, or our lives can be marked with optimism, contentment, growth and peace in the midst of chaos. I truly believe that what our lives our filled with will determine the extent to which we can achieve optimal health- spiritually, mentally, and physically. 
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