How To Start Enjoying Life
There’s no worse feeling than frustration.
That horrible feeling in your stomach.
The sensation nothing ever goes how it should.
Today I would like to tell you a story about frustration but more precisely about the root of frustration – expectation!
It’s the story of a young couple, Emma and John. They are celebrating their two-years anniversary. John decided to give his girlfriend the best night ever. He rented a beautiful car to drive them out of town for the night. The car was so comfortable and shiny. During the car ride, he played the most romantic tunes in his playlist to set the mood. He drove slowly. He took the opportunity to look from time to time at Emma sitting next to him on the passenger’s seat.
They arrived at the location just in time to catch the sun going down. They parked the car, sat on a bench and watched the sun going down, while wrapped in each other’s arms. It’s now dark and getting cold, so they go to the restaurant where John booked a table for their anniversary dinner. It’s the most beautiful restaurant Emma has ever been in – white tablecloths on the tables, luxury cushioned chairs, crystal lamps hanging from the ceiling, silver cutlery, embroidered napkins. You could see that John put all his heart into choosing the best location to celebrate his love for her. He ordered her the finest food and best champagne. They were served with all courtesy from the staff and their food is from the highest quality and cooked to perfection.
After dessert, they went to the hotel where John booked a suite for them to spend their anniversary night. When they got there more champagne awaited them in the room. He also had a card for her in which he wrote in his own words how much he loves her and how happy he is to have her in his life. They went to bed and slept happily in each other’s arms.
The next morning, they went down for breakfast and John was so happy after such a perfect anniversary night – everything went so well. While sitting at breakfast, he looked up at Emma and she didn’t look happy at all. She actually looked like she was fuming. He tried to remember what happened the night before to try and find out what he may have done to deserve such treatment at breakfast the next day. However, as much as he tried to think about it, he really didn’t see anything wrong. He decided to ask her the scariest question a man can ask his girlfriend: “Are you okay?” She answers with a snappy “yes”. It’s worse than he thought. He could feel cold sweat starting to build up on his spine. So, he built up his courage and asked: “Are you sure?” Another “yes”. He’s a dead man!
They ate breakfast in silence, went back to the room to pack their overnight bags and left. It was a long and silent drive back home. He left her at home and brought back the rental car. On his way home he was trembling with fear. He tried again and again to replay the night before. Everything went according to plan and even better. The car was fine, the sun going down was a bonus, the dinner was delicious, the suite was beautiful. Maybe she didn’t like the card or the poem? Maybe it was too much? Maybe he snored all night and prevented her from sleeping? What did he do? What did he do?
He went back home and found her sitting in the kitchen still looking angry. If he asked again, she may explode. What should he do? Then again, he needs to know. It was weeks of efforts and preparations and all he gets in return is the silent-treatment. He needs to ask. “Baby, I have the feeling something is wrong. Tell me what’s going on.” As expected, a nuclear explosion happens right in front of his eyes. He should have taken a picture for a science journal. It was a medley of screams, cries, hands gesticulating in every direction, tears. In the midst of it all he manages to hear the word ‘ring’. “Where is the ring? Two years we’ve been dating now and you still didn’t propose! What is wrong with you? What is wrong with me? Where’s the ring, John? Where is it?” John is flabbergasted and stays there, not knowing what to say. “Well, say something!” He tries. “What ring, baby? I didn’t know you wanted to get married in the first place.”
You see all this time John was giving her the best anniversary ever with the rented luxury car, the sun going down, while in each other’s arms, the gourmet dinner with champagne, the beautiful suite. She, on the other side, had only one thing in mind: when is he going to propose? She didn’t see any of the attentions he had for her that night. All of them went above her head, as all she could think about was: where’s the ring? She could have had the night of her life, instead she had the argument that may have ended the relationship with a man that wants to create the most magical night to show how much he loves her.
All she felt all along was frustration. She was frustrated because there was no ring, there was no proposal. She led herself to feeling miserable instead of blissfully happy. If she had her mind in the moment, she would have been able to see how much she means to her boyfriend. She could have been delighted the next morning and thankful to him for such a display of affection. Instead she showed anger and bitterness over something he didn’t do.
This happens to us all the time in life. We let expectation lead us to frustration. Instead of appreciating the moment and what it brings us, we focus on what we thought it would be like and how it’s not what we wanted it to be.
Next time you’re presented with a good time in a beautiful setting, don’t overthink it. Enjoy what is. Be present in the moment. Focus on the enjoyment of the present. The past is done. The future is unknown. Only the present counts.