to Out on a Limb,
a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine
is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in
“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” ~ William Shakespeare
This month’s topic started out as a verb, ADAPT, because I continue to observe and believe in a correlation between adaptability and joy. Don’t worry: I am not going to go all “survival of the fittest” on you but I just want to make a pitch for the benefits of elasticity.
Expectations are a huge culprit. If you hear the phrase “cup of coffee,” do you have a picture in your mind of how or where or by whom it should be made? And what, if anything, should be available to add to that beverage? Cream, sugar, honey, soymilk? All of these are expectations that may or may not be met. If they are not met, how would you rate your ability to roll with it? If 0 is terrible, and 10 is excellent, I hope you are in the 7’s, 8’s or 9’s on this scale.
The example above was just about a hot caffeinated drink. Maybe it isn’t a big deal if you cannot have a cuppa to your specifications each time you want one. But for some, it is a problem. I worry about how much joy they have in their lives.
We have expectations about much more complicated things such as what qualifies as success, what a friendship or marriage should look like, or how someone should behave. We impose those expectations on ourselves, or others, and it causes problems because someone is bound to fall short. This reminds me of one of my most favorite phrases of all time:
“Expectations are premeditated resentments.” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous
It is easy to say, “hey, check your expectations,” but so much harder to do. The older I get, the more I see how patterns established when we were young can set us up to tend toward inflexibility. The antidote is stretching. If we make it a practice or intention to stretch not just our bodies, but our minds, and expectations, we have a greater chance of overall elasticity as we age. It could start with something as simple as drinking a cup of black coffee, instead of an expected mocha, and just observing the difference. Or movement from a belief that “this plane has to leave on time” to “I wonder how this journey will unfold and no matter what, it is an adventure.”
I changed the topic from a verb to a noun because verbs can be interpreted as commands, and that is not my intent for you, nor my expectation of myself. Instead, this noun, elasticity, is a quality that holds tons of appeal. May we be drawn to it more and more.
Prompts for Joy:
Click here to s-t-r-e-t-c-h any ideas you might have about what comprises talent.
(Thanks, Geoff Brown!)
Click here for a brilliant short, short film about gifts that transform.
All previous Prompts for Joy (PFJs) can be found at my website, unless the video url is no longer functional.
Upper left corner: blooming hibiscus in my office garden.
By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT · 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ·