Our expectations shape our world.
I think many of us wonder if we'll ever find someone to spend our lives with.
I was certainly no different. I spent many years worried about whether or not I would find someone to love me. With scars ravaging my body, a noticeable limp when I walk, and no fingers, that was a very real fear when I was a little boy.
I fell for Beth the very first time we met in college. After three years of friendship, a period of time during which I asked her out repeatedly and was rejected repeatedly, she finally realized we could be something more.
What I loved the most about Beth was her heart. She was unpretentious, nonjudgmental, humble, focused, and faithful. I remain amazed that she chose me, married me, and loves me.
But even a guy who understands how good he's got it can lose sight of that fact. Life can get in the way and cause us to forget to treasure the very things that we know in our hearts are priceless.
So on January 1, 2017, I bought a new journal, opened it to the first page, and wrote the words "Dear Beth."
What followed was a note from me, committing to her that each night for the next year, instead of missing out on how good our life was, or focusing on something that went wrong, I would record something she said, she did, she shared that was remarkable. I wanted to capture, in the midst of the busyness of our lives, not only how fortunate we were but how remarkable she was, every single day.
So, without her knowledge, each evening I wrote down something beautiful that she said, she did, or that we experienced together. I wrote about enjoying coffee on our screened-in-porch, our walks around the neighborhood together with our dog, the way she glowed as she descended the steps in an evening dress before we headed out for a special event.
The longer I did this practice, the more of her kind acts I noticed. The cataracts of daily living and missing what matters most were removed; my eyes were opened to the marvelous ways my wife improved the lives of all of us around her.
On December 25, 360 days after the journal journey began, I handed her the poorly wrapped gift.
She unwrapped the package to discover a well-traveled, scuffed, coffee-stained leather journal. She saw my handwriting as well as movie-ticket stubs, receipts from restaurants, and a simple love note she had written to me. As she turned the pages, she saw several hundred entries tracking our year together.
Listen, relationships are hard. Try adding four kids to the mix, and our busy lives are even harder.
When I started that journal, in preparation for each day's entry, I was actively looking for Beth's kindness, her support, her empathy, her patience, her beauty. I was seeking it out, expecting it. And that sense of expectancy opened my eyes to everything that was already there in the first place.
Look for good and find good.
The concept is transformative in a romantic relationship, although the exercises of seeking the good in others, tracking their actions, expecting the best, and recording the journey apply in every facet of life.
You see, our expectations shape our world.
Expect amazing. Expect beauty. Expect awesome. Expect joy.
It will dramatically influence what you see. And what happens next.
Adapted from In Awe: Rediscover Your Childlike Wonder to Unleash Inspiration, Meaning, and Joy. Copyright ©2020 by John O'Leary. Used by permission of Currency, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. Learn more at www.readinawe.com.
It's time to rediscover our childlike sense of wonder to unleash inspiration, meaning and joy. John O'Leary invites us to return to the joy of navigating life like a child. Strengthened by the past, and empowered for the future, IN AWE shows us how to seek fresh insights, reach for new solutions, connect with those around us, and live our best lives.