Yes, Together We Can
by (Capt) Ravi K Mahajan
11. EXPECTATIONS – COMPARISON
Expectation, Comparison & Greed Live side by side. Shun them for a Graceful and Empowered Living.
Having unrealistic expectations from others, is the root cause of most tense and spoilt relationships. Well, it may sound a little off the way, but to have nil or least expectations from others, will definitely ease many relationships.
Often, we stand under an orange tree, but expect apples to fall from it. Often, we do nothing for others, but when it comes to expectations from others, we expect everything. And when our inflated and unrealistic expectations are not met, we blame others for something for which we can only blame ourselves, that is having unrealistic expectations. Even God cannot meet anyone’s unrealistic expectations. To have unrealistic expectations is to compress the mind and make it week. We can only work on realistic needs and necessities, not on desires or wishful thinking. Expectations hinder the performance and, in turn, the result.
Either happily get along with a friend or get away. Basic Rule in all relationships should be - change the changeable. Manage the manageable. But accept the unchangeable or unmanageable. When you do not have expectations from others, whatever you get in the relationship, is a bonus and would make you happy, because you have got much more than what you had expected which, in this case is, nil expectations. One is disappointed only when your expectations are not fully met. Then you feel slighted or let down or not looked up by the other person. Disappointments, caused by your unrealistic expectations, which are not met, turn to frustration in due course and is the root cause of most of the acrimonious, unsatisfying and uneasy relationships.
These days, most of us have become very much used to our way of living, our routine and lifestyle. We do not like to have any intrusion in that routine. I have seen a number of people not reacting very favourably or cribbing, when some guests come to their house. Normally, these guests are their own cousins or other close relatives. Their unfortunate reaction exhibits their intolerance. In some extreme cases, children or even elders make the guest’s position very untenable. Now reverse this situation. Sometime, you also might have to stay at your relative’s house as guest. How would you like your host or his family, behaving in such a manner. You will definitely expect to be treated with respect.
People have become so much used to having unrealistic expectations from others, most of the people will laugh at you and suggest ‘how is it possible not to have expectations.’ They equate expectations with bonding of relationships. A simple example can be that, it is the natural duty of every parent to bring up their children to the best of their ability and capacity. They forget that this is the nature’s law that when parent give birth to a child, it is their natural duty to bring up the child, educate the child and make the child worthy enough to fend for himself and his family. Parents are not doing any special favors to the children by bringing them up but are only doing their natural duty and responsibility.
But often, it is seen, parents become too possessive about their children and feel let down by them, when they are not looked after well in old age. Some parents take it to their heart and would keep cursing their children about their plight. Their expectations may be natural, but that only makes them unhappy and disappointed. Hence, the formula to live a happy and vibrant life is that you do your duty as parents, which your parents did towards you and if your children also do their duty looking after you, it’s ok. Otherwise, in old age, having unmet expectations makes you doubly unhappy.
In Hindi, there is a saying ‘Neki kar, kuain men daal’ translated into English, it means ‘do your duty and then forget about it’. Do good for the sake of doing good, not expecting any returns, because if you do good and expect the returns in the same way, then, when your expectations are not met, you will feel very much let down. Doing good for the sake of doing good, would give you great satisfaction and joy. When you do good and in return expect to be paid back, you have lost that blissful feeling of joy and eternal peace.
Same way, Comparison in life can be the root cause of most of our relationship problems. Sometimes, comparison is also the basis of our expectations. Comparison means that unintentionally, we start comparing our life with others, of which we can only have a superfluous idea. For example, a couple may appear to be leading a very good happy life. Looking at them, when we start comparing our own life, we may feel many discrepancies in our lives. But mostly, it is because we know everything about our lives, but hardly anything about others’ life. Comparison can only be made, when we have 100% idea of others’ life also, which can never be the case. That is why, it is said ‘grass appears greener on the other side of the fence’.
Life is to be lived by your own standards, in your own ways, if you want to really enjoy it. No one should belittle or demean himself, by comparison factor, by belittling others or by one-up-man ship. I have seen people stooping very low on ostentatious and pretentious living. Trying to look down others, even their close friends, gives them great sadistic pleasure. These are the people who need to be shown their place in any gathering or whenever the opportunity is there. By talking directly or by oblique references, such people always steer the topic to big houses, big cars, jewelry or things like that.
One such family known to me, went for a conducted Europe tour, couple of months back which also included a sea cruise. After their return, whenever and where ever we met, both husband and wife veered the talk around their tour, to the discomfiture of others present. Then one day I had to ask them ‘have you been to Kashmir, Himachal, Kerala or Val Parai’?. They looked at each other with total embarrassment, never expecting such a difficult question. Once, in their childhood they had been to Delhi, very embarrassingly, they told me. They had never even heard the name Val Parai, living in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. To their great embarrassment, I had to tell them where Val Parai was and how serene and more beautiful it was compared to most foreign locales. Their embarrassment was complete when very politely, I had to tell them that only after one has visited all the places of tourist interest in his own country, then only one should go abroad to see those so-called exotic lands. Their faces were ash-struck. I also had to tell them to talk to any of so many foreign tourists. They shall find that only after having seen all the spots of tourist interest in their own country, they have come to India to see our tourist spots in our country. These are everyday occurrences and because of human nature of subjugation, one person or set of persons enjoys to show other people low and themselves better. Unless you are outspoken and brash against such people, you will always find people in search of scoring brownie points against timid or not so aggressive gentle people who tolerate such people because of shy nature or consideration towards others.
Though I received lots of back slapping from other friends later, this poor couple never talked of their foreign tour again and mostly avoided this group. Be bold at such times. Take charge. And finish the matter once for all. Never dilly-dally at such time. You are doing a social service by being bold and embarrassing people who embarrass so many others by show off, comparison and trying to put down others. Get out of the shell and never hesitate to express when such a situation is created for the discomfiture of others.
Either shun such company or do not ignore their insidious remarks and overtures. Put such people in place emphatically, on their face, meaning that such things have no place in mature and dignified peoples’ gatherings. If you are bold enough to tell them on their face, you will see that you have elevated yourself in the heart of all those around. Such people are fearful of people like you. Even if they avoid your company, you have rid so many people of such bad company and influence, but you can be assured that you will have replacements in ten folds in due course. Out of decency, lack of guts or just not wanting to appear rude, people simply tolerate mean intentions of such people trying to put them down.
Your attitude should be that you should neither create comparison factor, nor tolerate it. You will always find people talking a lot about their strong point. For example, often you will find in get togethers and parties, people boasting a lot about their house, car, jewelry or other such possessions. If you keep tolerating them, such people will only get bolder. You need to snub them before such things become the topic of discussion. You may start talking about books, current events, art or such things in which such people are genetically weak. Talk of material possessions only creates inadequacy, jealousy, envy, anger or such negative unwanted feelings in a person. Some people are mild or timid, and will keep going through the agony of such wasteful talks, but as a seasoned operator, you should put your foot down and say an emphatic no to such useless talk once for all.
Why I am writing so much about Comparison is because during last fifty years, I have seen great tension, suppressed anger, feeling of inadequacy and let-down, because of the comparison factor in people, families and society. As a practical and balanced thinker, once again I will stress that most enjoyable and happy living, is when you live life the way you want it as the king of your life, not by comparing yourself with others and feeling low. Always know your strong points and live with them. Do not ever try to put yourself on a higher pedestal against others, nor make anyone feel small in your presence.
It is a perverted side of human nature that people seek to suppress others or look others down by tall talks, show-off, unhealthy comparison and ostentatious lifestyle. This one factor is killing our social fabric and reason for so many ills of our society. Keep the book away and just think how often it happens to you but most of the people tolerate such crude behavior. Perpetrators go scot free with that most destructive feeling of misplaced self importance. Not anymore. Show zero tolerance and never let such people get away with such inglorious acts. Whenever you see anyone doing such deplorable show-offs, put him in his place emphatically, boldly and mercilessly, if need be.
For a life full of bliss, serenity and tranquility, do not itch for things which are not yours, do not ape others or their lifestyle, take pride in yourself, your family and heritage, always count your blessings and be thankful to God for all these things you are blessed with. God has created the creations inhabiting this world but existing disparities and discriminations are all man-made. If you consider yourself as the king of your kingdom and do things right, not hurting others, spread love, compassion and kindness, no one can displace you from your kingdom. Keep Greed out from your life, keep working hard, put in your best, count your blessings, see and feel how rich you are because of your contentment, peace, harmony, goodness and love.
Comparison, not necessarily is a negative factor, but can also be a motivating and positive factor, when we are objective about it and then it can lift us up. Though comparison can, often, lead to jealousy and envy, but it can also motivate and inspire us to do better. Sometimes, we will be very much dejected and disappointed when we see people with lesser merit than us, appear to be doing better than us. It may cause negativity in us. Since, mostly we are prompt to compare ourselves with those who have done better than us and are better off than us, we may develop a kind of inferiority complex in us. This habit of needless comparison, may make us frustrated, disappointed and sometimes, make us feel even inadequate. But we do need to look our self up, to get over such negative phases in life. Adopting an attitude of gratitude, too, mitigates the negative feelings of frustration and disappointments over comparisons & expectations.
Yes, there are healthy comparisons also which take us to the positive side of this otherwise negative factor. Such as comparisons between the nations, in industrial, infrastructure and economic progress. You can see such difference in the progress made by China and other far east countries, and many nations of the European block. If we see in last sixty years, where these countries have reached and where we are? Why is it so? Simple answer is that we want to progress on money and wealth alone, not the values while those countries have kept a fine balance between the two. Unless we improve the intrinsic quality of our human resource, such as Discipline and Character and educate ourselves on many other lessons of this book, no industrial or economic progress of value will ever be there. Please read the front inner cover of this book.
We must understand that every human being has some positive and negative features and talents. We should nurture and focus on our positive talents and shed our negative features. Our success in life depends on how much we are able to do in this regard. But life itself is much more important than success or failure. And for a rewarding, joyful happy blissful life, if you have least expectations from others or comparisons with others, it would be that much easier & better for you, lighter for you. Ultimately, the best attitude in life is, as said above ‘Neki kar aur kuan men daal’. Meaning thereby ‘do good and forget about it’.