My fortieth birthday was the worst. I was certain my family would go out of their way to make me forget about the number I was reaching by celebrating . . . me. Big mistake. My teen, tween, and pre-school age children felt no need to smother me with adoration and affection as I crossed into a new decade. And because I was upset by my children’s lack of attentiveness, no effort on Rev’s part was appreciated.
It’s funny, but all I remember from the day is how I ruined it with a bad attitude.
Have you ever observed a family having a meltdown on vacation? Maybe you’ve been that family. Parents can expect their darlings to be so appreciative of the effort and money being spent that they will stop being children for a few days and morph into happy angelic gratitude machines. That’s probably not going to happen.
Think about some of the times you’ve been disappointed. Was it because someone, something, or someplace failed to deliver what you expected?
There is a better way.
Let’s look at the difference between expectation and anticipation.
To expect is to:
- consider probable or certain
- consider reasonable, owed, or necessary
- consider bound in duty or obligated
To anticipate is to:
- look forward to
- regard as likely
- hope for
The difference is in our attitude. One is hope and one is entitlement. Hope allows for any number of things to happen. Hope keeps us open to possibilities we couldn’t even imagine. Entitlement usually has a very specific outcome. It relies on other people to react and behave in the way we want them to.
Today’s Fun Activity
1. Plan a fun night for your family . . . favorite food night, movie night, game night, karaoke night, photo/scrapbook night, or family pajama party night.
2. Choose a date together so everyone can participate. Have each person save the date. Don’t give them any details. Tell them you want them to anticipate a fun time together without knowing what to expect.
3. Make all the necessary preparations . . . grocery shopping and preparing the space.
4. Make a list of your reasons for planning family fun night:
- you love your family
- you want to show them you love them
- you want to make happy memories
- you want them to feel special
- you want to have fun with them
5. Anticipate that each of your reasons will play out exactly as you hope, but expect:
- at least one family member to try to bail out
- your children to argue and complain
- your husband to have to work late
- the power to go out, the microwave to break, or the TV to die
- it to not turn out the way you hope
6. If your family fun night turns out as expected . . . well you won’t be disappointed or upset. If it turns out as anticipated you will be thrilled and celebrate. Either way you did something nice for your family.
7. Later take some time to talk with your family about the difference between anticipation and expectation.
Hope or entitlement.
Anticipation or expectation.
You may not be able to control your circumstances or change the way the people around you react, but you can change your attitude. Will you choose anticipation?
I promise it’s the one that will give you the most peace and happiness.