A few days ago, I needed to transfer money from my Spanish bank account to my U.S. one, to ensure that my debt monsters received their monthly feeding. I’d done this a few times last year, and didn’t foresee it taking longer than ten minutes. Two hours later, I found myself waiting in line at the bank, laptop in hand, so that I could physically show someone the error message I had received.
As I stood in line, I became more and more frustrated with what I perceived to be each wasted minute of my day: “I should have already gotten groceries, gone to the gym, and cooked lunch by now. Instead, I’m standing in this fucking bank”.
After thirty minutes in line, it was my turn at the desk. They were able to resolve my transfer problem, but as I left the bank, I found myself faced with a new problem: my shit mood. I walked out grumpy as hell, and realized that if I didn’t change something, the rest of my day would be blanketed in bitterness. I forced myself to sit down at a bus-stop to relax, which is when I had an “a-ha!” moment.
Why was I upset? Because I had allotted a specific amount of time in my head for a task to take, and then the time required to perform that task had far exceeded my expectation. Something that didn’t exist (my expectation) was negatively influencing me in a real way (my mood). Then I remembered an equation I had seen in a “Wait, but Why” article http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/09/why-generation-y-yuppies-are-unhappy.html.
Happiness = reality – expectations
The difference between what I expected, and what had really happened, had created unhappiness.
However, this equation isn’t foolproof. I don’t think that the key to happiness is to start off each day expecting that I’m going to get brutally murdered by my best friend and when that doesn’t happen, score! I’m happy!
What I think is that “expectations” can be eliminated entirely from the equation. Happiness = reality. In this way, there will never be any disappointment. There will only be what is.
I need to stop my mind from projecting what it thinks should happen, because that doesn’t matter. All that matters is what’s really happening, in this moment. But what if I’m sad? Then I will be sad. Although, if my reality is sad, that does throw a bit of a kink in the equation: happiness = sadness. Kinda makes me sound like a badass zen master though: “Happiness is sadness, my son”.
Forget the equation. Reality is all that is important – not what happened in the past, not what my brain has projected for the future. All that matters is right now. That’s it. I need to totally accept this moment – there is no other way that it could be, other than the way that it is.
To quote Morpheus, “what happened, happened, and couldn’t have happened any other way”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2if5mg60D8