Tag Archives: Teamwork

If You Want to Be Happy, Tame Your Expectations

I wanted to finish 2012 with what I think is my biggest “insight.” That is, the thing that I felt taught me the most about myself and other people. As you know, if you follow me on Twitter  Facebook, or read what I write about here (follow button on the right-hand side!), I like to learn. I think that learning doesn’t end once you leave school (whether we like it or not) and I think that learning about ourselves never ends.

I’ve certainly came across quite a few techniques, perspectives, and ways for being in the world and handling stress. In particular, I think that Byron Katie‘s The Work can be quite powerful. While I’ve never attended one of her seminars, watching the videos of people “doing The Work” can have its own cathartic experience.

I’ve noticed that one of the revelations I’ve come to this year is very similar to what Katie has said, but I still feel it to be slightly different. It’s the idea that our expectations about the world are what cause us stress, unhappiness, and you name it. I’m speaking very abstractly, so let me give you a concrete example.

Let’s say I’m having a problem with a coworker. Let’s say that coworker does something that I don’t like. Why does this upset me? Without getting into any psychological underpinnings and staying right at the surface, it’s simply about my expectations of what that coworker should (or shouldn’t) be doing that’s causing me trouble. How? Well, assuming you believe that each human being is entitled to their own autonomy, they have free will to do as they please (within the law, I suppose). If the person is acting in a way that displeases me, it’s probably because I expect them to be acting in some other way — and they aren’t. Again, still kind of abstract, so let’s make it really concrete.

Let’s say that this coworker (by the way, this example works for family, friends, spouses, pets, pretty much anything), has a particular way of answering a question with a question. And let’s say that I find this really annoying (in fact, I’d find it intriguing, but let’s go with annoying, for now). Every time I see this coworker, I’m going to remember that this coworker asks me questions whenever I ask them questions — so it’s going to make me unhappy, just seeing this person! If I happen to need to ask them something and they ask me a question back, I might begin to feel angry. Why am I feeling angry? Simply because my expectations are that this coworker should not ask me questions when I ask them questions. Should this really matter? No! This coworker can ask me questions when I ask them questions — they’re certainly allowed to do that.

Let’s try another example for which I’m sure we can all relate: traffic. Have you ever been sitting in traffic, late for something? I know I have. While sitting in this traffic, do you ever notice that sometimes people will try to “jump the line?” Does that bother you? If I’m being honest, this has certainly bothered me at times. Why should this bother me (or you)? Well, we expect that people will be kind and wait their turn right. We expect… Oh boy — there it is again! Expectations! If I didn’t have expectations that people wouldn’t try to jump the line, this wouldn’t make me upset. I might think, ‘Oh, maybe they’re in a really big hurry. Maybe someone they know is in trouble and they’re trying to go save them.’ It’s really impossible to know why someone would try to jump the line in traffic, so far be it from me to expect something from them in the way that they behave to the other drivers.

So, if I had to choose one thing to offer you from 2012, moving into 2013, it would be your expectations. Notice when you get upset/angry about something and try to discern what it is that you’re expecting should be happening in that situation. If you want to take it a step beyond, try to tame that expectations. Though, for starters, I think it’s important to notice what it is that you’re expecting in a situation. From here, you’ll certainly be well on your way to determining the root of your unhappiness.

Mass Collaboration Will Change the World

One of the benefits to being a , is that you’re able to subscribe to other users. If there is a particular user that publishes videos that you’ve liked in the past, say maybe (you may have seen one of their videos — they’re the ones who write on a whiteboard depicting the ideas from the presenter’s presentation), then when you login to YouTube, if this user has published any new videos, you’ll see it right on your homepage. Additionally, you can also get notifications of new videos via email, but who likes a cluttered inbox, right?

I recently logged into YouTube to find that one of users I’ve subscribed to, [the same user that has uploaded such popular videos as: ] had uploaded a new video called: . I like music, but I like collaboration even more, and most importantly, I was intrigued by the idea of a ‘virtual choir.’ I clicked on the video and watched the presentation by Eric Whitacre. Wow! Wow! Wow! I’ve embedded the video into this post to the right of this paragraph and strongly suggest spending the 15 minutes to watch it [Be sure to watch it in full screen mode, too!].

What struck me most about watching Eric’s presentation is the element of collaboration. In the first video [embedded in the next paragraph], , there were 185 voices in over 12 countries. In the second video [embedded at the end of this post], (which debuted quite recently, April 6th of this year to be exact), , there were 2052 voices in over 58 countries. Can you imagine singing with over 2000 people in person much less, virtually and across the world? This project reminds me a bit of , where they had people in over 156 countries join together and sing at the exact same time. Projects like these get me really excited!

Projects like these give me hope for the future of the world. It is absolutely moving that there are causes that motivate people to gather together across obscure places. The first (Lux Aurumque) of Eric’s videos was moving, but the second, was even more moving! More than two-thousand people decided that this was something that they wanted to be part of. This project was something that they wanted to contribute a piece of their creativity and flare to. This project was something that they thought was inspiring. And can you really disagree with that?

This bit of collaboration demonstrated by the people who spent hours perfecting a video to send to Eric Whitacre makes me think of the possibilities… What if we could get 10,000 people singing together? What if we could get 100,000 people singing together? What if we could get a whole country to sing together? I wonder what kind of positive emotion and inspiration we could invoke from the people of a nation, if they were all singing a song (like the ones in these videos) at the same time. I wonder what that could do for “world peace.”