I've learned as I've gotten older that the best way to avoid disappointment is to lower my expectations. I'm a bit of a dreamer and I used to spend far too much time anticipating how lovely a holiday, birthday, celebration, party, date, relationship... would be. And I would inevitably end up disappointed.
But the problem now with keeping myself perpetually un-anticipating is that I seem to have lost a bit of that fun, childish excitment. My birthday is tomorrow and for the first time in years I actually have reasons to look forward to it. I have a lovely man and good friends to celebrate with. My mother has already sent a couple little gifts I can open when I wake up... But I don't feel anything besides a vague contentment. Of course there is something about celebrating less then a week after my great-uncle died, but more than that I think the effort over the last few years to suppress any anticipation.
Is this really the secret to happiness - live fully in the moment and not in the future or past? What if part of living in the present is to savour the anticipation of future pleasure?
By not anticipating that my birthday would be anything particularly special this year, I didn't bother to invite friends till late this afternoon. You could say I didn't put any effort into making it special. Keeping expectations low means I didn't really try.
There must be a balance here between expectations that drive you to achieve more, build better, etc and those that lead to disappointment. I'm thinking I may have gone too far on the side of lowering my hopes. I no longer really think I'll get published, so I'm not sending out much stuff. I don't expect friendships to last, so I don't put much work into them. I even wonder sometimes if I am holding out in my relationship since there is that voice in the back of my head telling me not to expect too much, not to really expect him to still be around when things get bad, grow old....
So I think I've found my resolution for my 31st year:
Dare to hope a bit more
Risk more. Strive more. Dream big.
Disappointment be damned.