Human beings love to imagine the future; we do it constantly.
And our imaginings tend to take two forms — expectation and hope.
They seem similar, but shape our perceptions and our emotional lives in quite different ways.
So the differences between them are worth noting:
Expectation is essentially a demand. I must have X, it says, or I’ll be unhappy.
Hope is more accepting and receptive. I look forward, it says, to what comes.
Expectation is like a closed hand, clinched and tense.
Hope is like an open hand, relaxed and patient.
Expectation wants to control reality, to impose its own selfish terms.
Hope trusts reality, has faith that the facts will be friendly.
Expectation is wary and defensive. It keeps one eye on what it wants and the other on what it fears.
Hope is optimistic and inclusive. Unfocused on any particular outcome, it stays flexible enough to make room for whatever.
Expectation kills. By crushing flexibility, spontaneity, creativity and joy, it squeezes the life out of life.
Hope is life-giving, promoting patience, courage, power and growth.
Expectation is restrictive, tying you to a particular desire.
Hope is inclusive, freeing you to play with whatever comes next.
Expectation is an emotional anchor that drags you down.
Hope is a spiritual wind that lifts you up.