William Penn, the great philosopher once wrote, “The secret to happiness is to count your blessings, while others are busy counting their troubles”. Wise words from a man so historically significant that he has an entire region in North America named after him (Pennsylvania, for those that missed the boat on that one).
It seems like a pretty simple formula to understand whether or not we are happy in our lives. Appreciate the good, pay little attention to the bad, and always be grateful for the people and things that make your life what it is.
But I think the greatest difficulty, is the fact that a ‘blessing’ can be quite subjective. We are all programmed in different ways, so much so that we fuel debate simply as a result of various perceptions. Some people come to expect things, others learn to expect nothing. If you expect your neighbour to take out the bins for you, you will be disappointed and bitter towards them when they don’t do it for you. If you don’t expect such behaviour, your life remains unaltered by your neighbours inaction.
So it begs the question, have we as a society, come to expect too much?
Social media and mobile internet has taught us to expect answers and information at our fingertips at any given second of the day. We then get upset, anxious and frustrated when reception is weak or the internet runs slow.
So what blessings can you count in your life?
The love of your family or cherished other half? Service with a smile from the shop attendant who just helped you try on twelve pairs of shoes to find the right one? Good health? A home? … Life?
We’re all guilty of falling victim to our own expectations. We lose our touch on reality and forget to smell the roses.
Whether or not each of us want to break this habit is another story. Expectations bring hope and excitement. We FEEL when we are disappointed. We are brought back to our reality. Perhaps humanity needs to feel the highs and lows that expectations bring?
At the end of the day, we are but creatures of habit. I suppose that is what William Penn thought also, “Experience is a safe guide”
Do you want to be safe, or do you want to live a life where you are challenged?