Tips on How to Live With No Expectations
Updated: Apr 28
Learn how to live with no expectations by cultivating gratitude, practicing mindfulness, setting boundaries, embracing change, and finding purpose.
by Andrew H. Housley
Is it possible to live without expectations? Or do our histories and need for constant control get in the way of living free? In our latest episode, we discussed what life is like without expectations.
Here are a few takeaways and tips.
In Buddhism, we talk about the "wanting mind." This sort of thinking chases titles, sex, power, and other things we consider important. When we think like this, we imagine an outcome. We create an expectation. We create suffering because this assumption rarely aligns with reality.
Here are a few ways we can begin to limit our expectations.
Tip #1 - Limit Desires
Left untrained, our minds are constantly searching and wanting to be satisfied. Start to believe that what you have right here, right now, is enough.
Separate your wants from shoulds. Shoulds are other people's expectations that they place on you. Focus on your wants - your core values, the thing that you hold sacred.
Tip #2 - It Is Enough
All that you have is plenty. Don't complain. See the beauty in simplicity. The Zen master Dogen used the word shikantaza to describe how we should approach our meditation practice of "just sitting,"
"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour." - William Blake
Tip #3 - Take Responsibility
Take sole responsibility for your decisions. Don't blame someone or let someone "make you" or expect you to do something.
Tip #4 - No One Likes A Pretend Martyr
Living free of expectations also requires you to stop attaching strings to others. Stop placing expectations on others. An example: doing something and expecting someone to reciprocate. "I washed the dishes, so now you owe me _____."
Do your karmic duty without reward or accolade.
Lastly, apply the tools of compassion, gratitude, and remaining grounded in the present that you've been cultivating. As with anything, this takes practice, so be kind to yourself.
Is it possible to live a life free of expectations? No, probably not. We are conditioned to some things as humans and might never overcome them. When we work hard, we can lessen the suffering that expectations cause us and others if we begin to be mindful and live in this moment. One day we can live free.