As an American who didn’t get to travel at all in her childhood (except to the State Fair), there’s something about foreigners that always intrigued me. It’s always been like this. In college, all my friends were from France, Germany, Japan, or Poland. And by time I was 20, I wanted nothing more than to live in Europe. I never been there. Didn’t speak any foreign languages, and certainly didn’t have enough money to get there. I could barely fill my Chevy with gas let alone travel overseas.
But why sweat the small stuff, right?
One day I was sitting in the student commons reading the school paper and discovered an article about two students who just returned from a year in Germany…as exchange students. There was a lot that they had and I didn’t…like having studied German in high school and let’s not dismiss their shiny 4.0 GPA’s. Both of which were out of my grasp. But I could take a German course and maybe find a tutor.
So I did. I went to class four times a week and met my tutor at least twice.
And by the end of the 2nd semester I knew enough German to say my name, age and probably order a beer. Enough to apply for a scholarship to study in Germany for a year, which I actually won.
Even before reading that article, I knew I was going to live in Europe one day….so much, that I expected to win the scholarship even with my poor GPA and basic German.
And this KNOWING and EXPECTING is key to unlocking anything you want in life.
See, when you expect something, you have fun getting there. You enjoy the challenges and your mind finds ways to make it all come together.
But when you expect NOT to have something…to fail…then you live in a state of anxiety and fear. And that holds you back. It sucks your momentum, energy, and passion.
And the main reason you feel anxious is because you’re expectations are based on past experiences. Our brains aren’t wired to keep us happy. They’re wired to keep us ALIVE.
Thankfully I didn’t have any past experiences with learning another language, applying for a scholarship or traveling overseas. This is what we like to call “beginner’s luck”. Which is basically just expecting the best because you don’t know anything else.
Now, had I listened to my dear loved ones who tried to talk me out of it all…not because they want me to be miserable…quite the opposite…but because they didn’t want me to be disappointed if I didn’t win it. They knew my history first hand, they felt the odds were pretty low.
But the grey matter in my mind didn’t have past histories to scare me out of trying. It didn’t have any beliefs that would hold me back.
Because, really, that’s all that is holding us back…living in a state of anxiety because our beliefs try to protect us.
And what is a belief? Just an idea that we keep thinking.
So how do we change our expectations? I’m glad you asked.
When you focus on gratitude, write about the best moments of your life, appreciate all that you have, you start to recognize new patterns. Your brain rewires so that it expects positive outcomes, because it’s been witnessing them all day every day.
That’s why a gratitude practice is so important. Not just once a day for five minutes. But all day.
Appreciation, love, joy…these emotions not only make us happy, they make us feel alive, youthful, and healthy. They unlock our potential, new ideas, and allow us to grab our dream by the horns and make it ours.
Starting today, write down what you appreciate most. Write down your biggest wins. Text someone what you appreciate about them.
Hustle is for people who EXPECT it to be hard. Appreciation is for those who EXPECT it to be the most amazing ride of their life.