What follows is a lovely question and answer from a series of questions Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin recently asked Christian author Heather King. It made my day and I hope it makes yours, too.
It’s on happiness, of course. And what happens, as your life progresses, when you change your expectations.
Is there anything that you see people around you doing or saying that adds a lot to their happiness, or detracts a lot from their happiness?
My friend Fr. Terry Richey, 40-plus-years sober alcoholic, says, “If you’re really lucky, you’ll eventually give up all hope of being happy in the way you thought you were going to be.” I mean youhave to maintain a sense of humor about all of this. And I do think age is a help here. You almost have to spend decades thinking, This is going to make me happy, and going after those things, and either not getting them, which is one kind of blow; or getting them, and finding they don’t make you happy after all, or they make you happy only temporarily, or they bring a whole slew of problems that you’re not emotionally or spiritually equipped to deal with, and that’s another kind of blow.
What happens is that you spiritually mature and you stop having expectations. You stop having expectations and that doesn’t make for bland mediocrity, as you’d feared: it opens the window to a richer, fuller, more joy-filled life than you ever would have thought possible. Again, you’re in contact with reality. You’re better able to accept life the way it is, not the way you wish it would be. Instead of feeling that nothing is ever enough, you’re grateful for the tiniest thing: a leaf, a basket of figs, a handshake.