Expectations are what we think is going to happen. We imagine what something will be like before we experience it. We imagine how wonderful or horrible something is going to be and we prepare ourselves for the experience. Our expectations become a big part of any experience.
Our expectations are experiences in themselves. If we are afraid of something we are preparing to do, we experience fear long before the event. This fear may interfere with our ability to sleep before a big exam. Expectations can be exciting too, like when we anticipate a vacation or meeting with friends. The anticipation can be as enjoyable as the event. The expectations can also get in the way of the enjoyment, if our activity does not turn out to be as wonderful as we imagined it. Those expectations create disappointment.
Expectations are neither good nor bad, it’s just something we do. They are good for practical purposes, like when we expect it to be cold, we wear a sweater. They are bad when they cause us undue stress and worry. If we practice mindfulness, keeping our attention focused on the present moment, we can be aware of our expectations, and see how they influence our experiences. When we don’t know what to expect, we experience things more directly, because our mind is not clouded with how we think something should be. This is being present.