Relationships are possibly the most complicated things in our lives. From long-standing battles with co-workers to the history of scars and joys we have with our
significant others to the frustrations and miracles of parenting, every relationship becomes a multitude of layers of meaning and past actions and the emotions that result from those actions.
How can we simplify those relationships? By learning to be present, and forget about past
injustices. By giving up our complicated expectations of the people we live and work with, and
simply accepting them for who they are. You can wake up and still be mad at your wife for an
imagined slight from the night before, or you can wake up and see her beautiful face and
appreciate her for the wonder she is. Those past injustices only live on if we dwell in the past.
If we learn to live in the present moment, they disappear, because all we have is what is
happening right now: another person, breathing like we are, wanting to be loved like we do.
Practice being present in your next interaction with a friend or loved one.
Don’t worry about what has happened before, or what will happen later. Just enjoy being with that person, pay full attention to that person, and be grateful you are in their presence. Practice letting go of expectations of other people.
It’s these expectations that cause us to be frustrated and angry and disappointed. When your co-worker pisses you off, it’s because you expect them to be
better, to be different. They aren’t. They’re exactly how they are, and wishing they were different will get you nothing but frustration. So accept how they are, and work within that reality.
That doesn’t mean you have to take crap from everybody. It means that in your mind, you don’t wish people were different and weren’t rude. Instead, you deal with that rudeness evenly and
appropriately, and perhaps even learn about humanity in the process. Letting go of expectations
can be extremely difficult.
It first entails mindfulness — the realization that we have expectations of people, and that these expectations are causing frustration. That’s a tough first step, but letting go of the expectations is even tougher. It means taking a deep breath, and saying, “This is the way the world is right now, and it is perfect.” And those expectations, and resulting frustrations, are
When we get mad at other drivers in traffic, it’s because we expect them to drive a certain way, when the reality is, there will always be rude drivers. Expecting different is useless. When we’re in line and the person serving the line is slow, we expect them to be faster, and it makes us angry. When our child misbehaves, we expect them to act perfectly. When our friend doesn’t show up for a date, we expect them to be better. Those expectations serve no purpose but to cause us grief. Letting go of them simplifies every relationship.