Day 7 – Let Go of the Outcome
Happiness is a fickle thing. We, as INFJs, like to plan things out and make sure that they are the way that we think they should be. We get so stuck on one idea that we invest everything, all of our hope, desire and expectations, into this one thing. We sacrifice our immediate happiness to put in the work to get this one thing, whatever it is.
My “thing” has been different at different times in my life. Early on it was gaining the approval of my family, then finishing college, then working in a career that I loved, then starting my own business. For some people, it’s chasing a person for love or some other “impossible” dream.
Whatever the dream was, I put everything I had into gaining that dream. I’ve moved half-way across the United States a few times, leaving all of my friends and family behind. I’ve sacrificed more time and money than I can count. Even when I’d given all of my blood, sweat and tears, somehow I found more to give.
Once I have this thing…
I never worried about the sacrifices. I always expected that they would be repaid, that the thing that I was after would be so good that the time and effort put in to get it would be more than worth it. I just knew that once I had that one thing that I was after, THEN I would be happy. But I couldn’t really be happy until I had the thing.
I’ve been really good at getting the things that I want in my life. While I’d like to brag and say that it always worked out the way that I had planned, that would be a lie. Most of the time I got the thing, but the coveted happiness was still elusive. So, not to be deterred, I’d set a new, bigger goal and start making a plan. It was a cycle that I never thought I would break.
I was listening to a podcast about current events. The two guys discussing the news wondered into religion. One of them mentioned a quote from Buddha.
“The cause of all suffering is desire and expectations.”
I felt like I ran into a brick wall. Desire, but even more so, expectations are the cause of all of my sufferings. You see, we as INFJs, are amazing at planning the future. It’s our favorite pass time. We’re good at seeing things coming and knowing what we want out of life – maybe not the small details, but the big things.
Half of the pleasure that we get from things and experiences comes from the anticipation of getting the thing. It’s the looking forward to it, the desire for it. So it’s natural for us to look forward to things with a desire to experience them. The desire for them also brings up expectations of what we hope them to be.
The Mixtape Tour
I’m going to throw some of my favorite people under the bus now, so brace yourself. I absolutely love the New Kids on the Block, a boy band from Boston. I was a bit late to find them, as I’ve only been a fan since 2016. I feel like I need to make up for lost time.
I love to go to their concerts. Every time they go on tour, usually every other year, I go to four or five shows. The first tour that I went to was called the Total Package Tour. Before I went to a show I wasn’t really sure what to expect, so my expectations were set by watching videos on YouTube and Facebook. I was hoping it would be a good show and was expecting it to be better than I hoped. And boy did they deliver! It was an amazing show!! They sang 28 songs and were on stage non-stop for almost 2 hours. I couldn’t have been happier!!
The next year seemed long and boring because I had no concert tickets as the New Kids didn’t tour that year. I had nothing to hope for but another tour. When they finally announced one in October I was so excited that I went to New York to the Today Show to be there live when they made the announcement. This tour would be called The Mixtape Tour.
The Mixtape Tour was a show like a mixtape: a show with five different acts that performed all within the same two hours. The New Kids were technically the headliners of the show, but their time on stage was significantly shorter than the previous tour. They only say 18 songs and were on stage for barely an hour.
I couldn’t have been more devastated. It’s not the Mixtape Tour was a bad show. If you liked all of the acts or even half of them you probably would say it was decent. The problem was that I desired and expected something different. I wanted the Total Package Tour or a facsimile of it. I wanted 28 songs for 2 hours and that’s so not what it was.
I know that my example isn’t life-threatening. It’s not the unexpected death of a father or the abduction of a child. It’s not torturing 6 million people to death. It’s just a silly concert. How can the belief that “the cause of all suffering is desire and expectations” apply to something more important and devastating?
When you break it down it’s easier to understand. Take the death of a father. Your suffering isn’t from the fact that he died. Your dad is older than you and human. We all understand that death is a part of life. It will happen to all of us. There’s no escape. When someone dies unexpectedly the suffering comes from the desire for them to be alive and for the expectation that they would be alive for longer. Even when people are older and we know they are going to pass away there is still a desire to spend more time with them. Maybe there’s regret to, or a desire to change the past. Still, it’s desire and expectations that cause us the most pain.
So what’s the fix? How do you find happiness in the midst of life? The best thing you can do is let go of the expectations. Put your faith in whatever Higher Power that you believe in and let go of what you want. Focus on the feeling that you are looking for, the happiness, the peace, the calm, rather than the thing that you hope will bring these things.
My INFJ Happiness Project
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“When I merge my desire with faith, I can take action from a place of peace rather than control.”Gabby Bernstein