I’m finishing-up my third Peace Corps assignment, and will be heading back to the States on Valentine’s Day – a sweet treat for sure. I served with the Peace Corps from 2006-2009 in the Republic of Macedonia, 3.5 months in the Republic of Georgia, 2011-2012, and I’m now finishing a 3.5 month assignment in Macedonia.
A big part of the joy I have experienced in my work here and in Georgia has to do with being open to exploring and understanding different cultures. So, earlier this week, when I opened my email and read an e-newsletter about “Cultural Intelligence”, I started thinking about what I’ve learned by living and traveling abroad and how those lessons have shaped my life.
My favorite line in the article is . . . “The last part of cultural intelligence relates to how you behave, and, in particular, how well you adapt when things don’t go according to plan.”
While living abroad I quickly learned that some of my richest and most rewarding moments were dependent on how well I adapted when things turned out differently than I expected, which led to an even more valuable lesson - to be truly happy abroad – it’s best to check your expectations with your luggage!
And, guess what? The amazing part of that lesson is it works just as well at home as it does abroad! Letting go of your expectations, is one of the keys to being truly happy – anywhere, anytime. When we let go of what we expect to happen and how we expect others to act and react, the happier and more fulfilling our lives become.
Expectations take-up a great deal of room in our hearts and in our heads and require loads of effort to maintain, which leaves very little space and energy for understanding, communication, growth, and happiness.
Think about it.
- How many times a day do you get frustrated with the actions or non-actions of yourself or others?
- How many times in your life have you look backward or forward through a very narrow lens, shaped almost entirely by your or other’s expectations, and felt embarrassed, sad or stressed?
- Wouldn’t it be nice to leave all that behind?
Why not give yourself a special gift this Valentine’s Day and lessen your expectations for yourself and others (past, present and future) and increase the likelihood that happiness will find a special place in your heart and grow to become the sweetest part of your life?
“Sreken pat” or happy journey, as they say to travelers in Macedonia, and may your happiest journey be your life.