Last week, I talked about expectation and how developing it can create positive action toward a desired goal. Well, this week I was watching a bit of TV and my program was interrupted by a commercial for Red Lobster, an East Coast seafood chain that serves some great food. It also happens to be one of my favorite restaurants. The commercial proceeded to display larger than life dishes of succulent crab legs being dipped in butter, juicy shrimp basted on the grill with garlic and parsley, tender lobster tails split open, and salmon dripping juice as it roasted on a cedar plank. It was only an hour or so after dinner, but that commercial made me hungry. I sat there on the couch and my mouth was watering! I could almost taste the crab and lobster I wanted it so bad.

My mouth was watering in expectation of tasting that food. However, I wasn’t about to get in my truck and drive half an hour to eat lobster, especially not after having eaten dinner just a short hour before. I found myself harrumphing on the couch, even a little bit frustrated. I wanted that lobster and I was upset my expectation of eating it wasn’t going to be fulfilled.

I did a little bit of research and found out that expectation causes dopamine to be released in the brain. Dopamine is neurotransmitter that helps stimulate pleasure and motivation. If you think about that for moment, it is startling. Expectation is not only a great mental principle to cultivate so that it propels you forward in life like Napoleon Bonaparte and Claude Bristol, it is also a physical reality.

With this truth also comes a problem, one I was experiencing on my couch because I wasn’t going to be able to eat lobster. What happens when an expectation is not met? Dopamine is suppressed and frustration, anger and even despair occur. The cause of these emotions can be so subtle, that most of us might not even be aware of it. We walk into our favorite restaurant only to find the wait is an hour. We get frustrated. Or we go to a movie we waited a month to see and it is awful. We are disappointed. Our wife gets pregnant and we lose the baby and depression sets in. These are all aborted expectations that have negative impacts on our lives.

So expectation can be good or bad. A key to really controlling the effects of negative expectation is developing patience. The definition of expect is “anticipating with confidence of fulfillment.” Or “something looked forward to, eager anticipation, hope.” And even “the feeling that something is about to happen.” But what happens if nothing happens, or that hope is not realized or the fulfillment never comes, or it comes late? Frustration, anger, depression? Most of us can control these effects by being patient.

I looked the word expectation up in the Bible and found something very interesting. In Hebrew, it means “lean forward, await, wait for.” The key is right there! There is a period of waiting, a period of patience, determined patience, but patience nonetheless. Digging a little deeper, I even found a reference to “watch tower” which further suggests a period of waiting.

So what does all of this mean? Sometimes the things we hope for won’t occur immediately. They can take time. Don’t miss out on what you expect, what you hope for, because you don’t have the patience to wait. I can make the mistake of compromising. I am hungry, so instead of waiting for dinner I snack on fattening chips or donuts and it ruins my meal. Some of us are impatient waiting for the right man or woman to come along and so we compromise and begin relationships with the wrong people that end up leaving us hurt and broken and disillusioned. I could go on, but the idea here is that good expectation is persistent until the thing hoped for is at last achieved.

© Seth Crossman

image courtesy of Red Lobster