December 28, 2016

What we should all Expect from the New Year.


“An integral being knows without going, sees without looking, and accomplishes without doing.” ~ Lao Tzu


I was recently asked what I’m expecting from the new year.

There was an uncomfortable silence after the question and I could tell my friend who asked was puzzled. My mind went blank and I didn’t know how to answer.

Eventually, after giving it some thought, I said, “I’m not expecting anything.”

You may think I’m either lazy or joking. The truth is, I have a million plans and goals—I’ve just lowered my expectations.

In the past, I anxiously waited for the New Year. I liked the idea that something was ending, which meant something new was beginning. And beginnings, usually, are associated with positive expectations.

I used to make plans and set goals, overlooking if they were plausible or not. I put considerable effort into making these plans happen, but I had a fixed idea of how things should be that next day, the next week and the next month.

To my surprise, among 10 plans, maybe only one would work out. Everything I expected to happen was in vain. I saw myself as a failure—at times even “unlucky”—and deemed life unfair for not supplying me with my desired results.

I’m convinced now that the problem wasn’t a matter of luck or the unfairness of life. The problem was that I had too many expectations. I was attached to the result of my plans, and when they didn’t work, I was miserable.

When I answered my friend with, “I have no expectations,” I meant it in a joyous, positive way. I said it trusting that things will fall into place. I have plans and I have goals, but I’m open to the fact that there is a probability they might change, be canceled, or replaced with something better.

The only thing we need to expect from 2017 is that it’s okay to not expect anything.

The truth is, we lose a lot of energy and effort trying to force things to happen. And often times, our expectations exceed the sum of the goals we have set. But reality doesn’t always match our wish list—we simply don’t know what will happen.

I’m fond of what Deepak Chopra has to say about this. In his book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, he speaks of two laws which have helped me drop my expectations and trust in the power of the universe.

The first is the Law of Least Effort. Deepak says:

“If you observe nature at work, you will see that least effort is expended. Grass don’t try to grow, it just grows. Fish don’t try to swim, they just swim. Flowers don’t try to bloom, they bloom. Birds don’t try to fly, they fly. This is their intrinsic nature. The earth doesn’t try to spin on its own axis; it is the nature of the earth to spin with dizzying speed and to hurtle through space. It is the nature of babies to be in bliss. It is the nature of the sun to shine. It is the nature of the stars to glitter and sparkle. And it is human nature to make our dreams manifest into physical form, easily and effortlessly.”

This law is the principle of taking least action, without any resistance. Deepak says that anything we do or want—and which is motivated by love—multiplies and accumulates because there is no waste of energy. However, when we seek power and control over people and situations, we waste energy, and thus, cut off its flow to ourselves, interfering with the expression of nature’s intelligence.

To do less and accomplish more, we must practice acceptance. We can make a commitment by saying: “Today I will accept people, situations, circumstances, and events as they occur.” I actually have this line written on the wall next to my bed so I can read it every morning. We should believe that this moment is as it is because the entire universe is at it is. Therefore, when we struggle against it, we struggle against the whole universe. We simply need to accept things as they are and not as we wish them to be.

The second law is the Law of Detachment. Deepak says:

“In order to acquire anything in the physical universe, you have to relinquish your attachment to it. This doesn’t mean you give up the intention to create your desire. You don’t give up the intention, and you don’t give up the desire. You give up your attachment to the result.”

What we want can be acquired through detachment because detachment is based on the unquestioning belief in the power of our true self. Attachment, on the other hand, is based on fear and insecurity. Consequently, we have to relinquish our attachment to the known so we can step into the field of all possibilities. When we do, we open the door to uncertainty and experience the fun and the exhilaration of life.

This year, to avoid disappointment, the greatest thing we can do is to stop imposing our ideas on how things should be. Make plans, by all means, but expect them to change.

Let’s accept uncertainty and make it a part of our new year. It’s a profound ingredient to add to our upcoming days. Uncertainty is the only path toward freedom and security.

So, let’s drop our expectations so we can enjoy an abundant year full of love, success, and growth—whatever that may look like for us.


Author: Elyane Youssef

Image: Daniela Brown/Flickr

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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