Many people say that the world we live in isn’t fair to everyone. When asked for a reason, the generic answer is that there are many who get great opportunities to live a decent life, and there are many, who are so terribly unlucky to not even get proper food to eat. They say that the world doesn’t equally reward everyone. Some get away with a bigger prize through little efforts, and some don’t get anything even after putting in the best efforts possible.
Here, people think of a ‘decent life’ as a time filled with happiness, where there are no sorrows and not much to worry about. A ‘reward’ in life refers to the fulfillment of desires, needs, and expectations a person might have from their life. But in the midst of wanting to fulfill the desires for getting that reward, and expecting it to be a symbol of a decent life. People seem to not notice that they are trapped in a vicious cycle.
The Vicious Cycle of Desire and Expectations
This vicious cycle involves the creation of desires, the expectation for the desire to be fulfilled, the fulfillment of the desire, and the cultivation of another desire and new expectations as a consequence of the happiness received through the completion of initial desire and expectations.
Think of a child who is going to school, and his Mom promises to give him a chocolate when he comes back home. In the mind of the child, there is a desire to have the chocolate, and the expectation to have that chocolate when he returns home. He craves for the chocolate the whole time during school hours, and this causes him to get distracted from everything else around him. Unfortunately though, when the child returns home, he gets angry and sad when he finds out that his Mom didn’t bring a chocolate for him.
No matter what explanation the mother gives to the child, his anger and sadness won’t get low anytime soon, as she just shattered her son’s desires and expectations. The mother would be truly sad to see her son in agony due to the absence of the chocolate, and she might think in her mind “I wish my child was more tolerant and would just have accepted the genuine reason I gave him for not getting the chocolate”.
Another case deals with a college guy who desperately falls in love with a girl of his batch. Out of his desire to be in a relationship with her and his expectation that she might feel the same for him, he confidently goes to her and proposes his love to her. The girl though didn’t actually have the same feelings as he did, and thus she rejects him. The desperate lover here is totally heart broken and has a feeling of hatred and disgust towards the girl he so greatly loved before proposing.
His new-found hatred for her is probably due to the fact that the girl shattered his expectations, and does not feel for him about the same way as he did for her. As the rejection by the girl has already broken his desire, his expectations also broke with it. The nature of his perception and expectation would make him hold the girl responsible for the sadness caused to him.
There is one thing common in both these cases, both the victims; i.e., the Little Boy and the College Guy were filled with a desire and had the expectation of having it fulfilled the way they wanted. When things didn’t go the way they desired and expected it to go, it left them with painful sadness.
This is the vicious cycle of Desire and Expectations. These two go hand-in-hand. With more desire, comes more expectation. If a child gets one chocolate each day instead of two. He would desire for two chocolates. His parents buy him two chocolates per day for a month, then switch back to giving him only one per day. This is when his expectation for getting two chocolates tomorrow and the desire for having two chocolates just like he had yesterday, would completely be destroyed when his parents give him only one chocolate the next day.
Desires are fueled by the past of an individual. For him/her, a desire could stem from the past, when they were happy and had fewer responsibilities, or when they see someone more happier than them. With the fulfillment of a desire, or during its fulfillment comes an expectation that everything would go just as planned. Expectations consist of the future. Something which hasn’t been known yet is perceived to be exactly the way as the mind perceives it to be.
The period of sadness comes only when there is a crack in these two elements. When either a desire is not fulfilled, or something is not done the way it was expected to be. In cases when a desire does get fulfilled, and things go just as expected or even better; the mind becomes calm and happy, but at the same time, this is what triggers this vicious cycle.
The fulfillment of desires and expectations gives rise to complacency, which in turn, stops all growth and makes people perceive that things would always be just as they were in the past. Believing in this past is also a desire, and the expectation to have that past be in the present and the future only creates another chain of events which definitely would end up in sadness if one stops trying to grow out of it.
The past can’t be the same forever. Think about the world of technology for an instance. The revolution of Smartphones has completely changed the way we live. Back in the 1980s, nobody ever thought that one day, we could explore the internet and browse through social media sites like Facebook through a device that fits into a pocket.
The growth and development of smartphones caused companies like Apple and Samsung to rise, as these companies adopted and grew themselves with the present. Companies like Nokia and Blackberry failed to have a concrete place in this era as they stuck to their past, and did not adapt to the presently changing world. By the time they realized their mistake, it was too late.
How could this Vicious cycle ever end?
The cycle of desire and expectations take place primarily due to the perspective of people, which makes them either look at their past glory or hope for a better future. When the mind of people works that way, they forget to look at the present, at what they are doing, and what could be done. Such a perception makes them rely on and get dependent on elements completely out of their control.
The past cannot be changed, it would always remain as it was. The experiences of the past, however, are important and serve as important tools to be used when shaping the present. Expecting the future events is a waste of time as they make you perceive future events based on only what you know currently. There is no person who could boast of having the knowledge about everything, hence there is no way an individual could expect a correct estimation of events in his future.
In such a case, living with the past or the future in mind won’t make the present any better. So far, we’ve known that desire and expectations could result in sadness. But the achievement of these two things is what makes most people happy. So if one has to find the key to happiness, one needs to know where exactly does happiness exist: In the past, future or in the present?
Hoping for a better future and expecting a better outcome from something done in the present doesn’t create real happiness. Hope only acts as a cover for hiding the uncertainty that comes with having expectations. Nobody can feel real happiness through hope.
Living with the past glory is also not enough for keeping one go through a happy and satisfied life. Having pride in one’s past without trying to make a better present is like looking through a mirror knowing the fact that the image visible on the mirror isn’t the real one between the two.
If one chooses to live in the present though, there are a plethora of opportunities which get open. For one, seeing the present allows someone to know what they have, and what they don’t. In the present, there is no sadness due to expectations or desires, but only opportunities that one can see. The pride of the past and the hope for the future makes people complacent and makes them procrastinate everything important to them. In the present, what’s visible are only chances. Living in the present would make a person work and develop themselves without caring for the future, or being scared of making a change in a pattern followed from the past.
The future would automatically play itself out if one chooses to live in the present. All around the world, we see people who get tired of their jobs or don’t like working continuously. This happens because their work is not something they love, and makes them seek to find happiness through a desire or an expectation. Those who don’t love their work usually work for the sake of money, which, in turn, helps them to do everything which is important to them, like taking care of the family, maintaining health, and myriad other things a person could love and consider valuable.
When people work while expecting or desiring something,( i.e., money, respect), they constantly work while thinking about the reward. Sure, money and respect can motivate people to work harder. But the expectation of these rewards causes them to undervalue the importance of the goodness of their work, which in-turn makes them get tired of it easily. People all around the world whine about their workplace conditions and their monotonous work, but they often forget that they’re working not because they like the work, but because it gets them something they expect to obtain.
There are many people on Earth who often say that they love what they do. This doesn’t mean that they have some weird brain pattern that other don’t seem to recognize. It’s just that they do what makes them live in the present. They do stuff which doesn’t make them expect or desire anything else, and that stuff is something which already has enough goodness to allow a person to be constantly happy and make them develop themselves.
That stuff or passion, as they say, could be anything. Anything that they know about really well, and feel confident about themselves while doing it. It could be an art like dancing and singing, something like writing or coding, or anything else. A person tends to like doing they know about. Having knowledge in that thing opens up the mind, resulting in more curiosity and growth.
Take an example of a simple game of cricket. Many children and teenagers like to go out and play the game at any time, any weather or any season. The happiness these children find while playing the game stems from the knowledge they have about it, which in-turn keeps them focused on their game without worrying about anything else.
Sachin Tendulkar, the iconic Indian cricketer started playing for the Indian team from the age of 16. In a career spanning over 22 years, Tendulkar became the highest run scorer in the game of Cricket. One of the key things he always said was that the game was his passion. Thinking about it, one can understand what he meant. The confidence he had in his ability to play the game, coupled with the knowledge he acquired while playing it, enabled him to love the game so much that it became a part of his life.
Tendulkar’s passion for the game didn’t stem from his desires for money or expectations of fame. Playing cricket was just something he loved to do. When Tendulkar came into the field to bat, he didn’t really care about the runs he would be going to make, or how much fame he will get if he scores a century, all he cared about is playing. He just wanted to play, that’s what he enjoyed to do, and that’s how he had such a long career while staying content with himself.
A person generally doesn’t like to do something which he doesn’t know about or doesn’t think of it having any importance. Sachin Tendulkar knew how his work needs to be done and felt confident about its purpose and the importance of what he did. At the same time, there was no expectancy of any reward or a desire which was needed to be fulfilled after playing the game. Sure, money and fame came as a result of his success in cricket, but Sachin Tendulkar most likely didn’t expect any of it when he first stepped on the field when playing his first match with India.
The Present is the Key to Happiness
Seeing the present as it is, and the efforts to make it worthwhile are what creates happiness. Sure, one cannot always stay happy even when living in the present, but, it frees them from negative values like jealousy and greed. At the same time, being in the present makes a person work in the best way possible, with a rate of efficiency that could surpass even the best in their field of work.
The past is a memory and the Future is a hope. But the present is a responsibility, which gives meaning and reason to the past and the future. The Past, Present and the Future are the parts of an individual’s life. The purpose for life is happiness, and that’s what gives the life its reason and meaning. The pursuit of happiness is what makes people live through their entire lives. Some try to find it in the hopes for a better future, and a few try to find it in the memories of the past, but it’s truly rare for someone to look beyond these parts and seek happiness in everything that exists in the present.