The Puppiness Project – Let Go of Expectations

Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever, and Chérie, our visiting Foster Pup.

Maybe She Will; Maybe She Won’t

Golden Retriever in Doggy Ride Bike Cart

I certainly will ride happily in this contraption. Every time I get into it, liverwurst comes out of the heavens.

Yeah, I like to try to predict the future. So several months ago, I asked our dog trainer, based on what he had seen so far, was it likely Honey could adapt to live on a boat and learn to ride in our bike cart.

He replied that Honey would probably adapt to life on a boat. But the bike cart? He thought she had perhaps a 50/50 chance of riding comfortably in it.

Russ’s words caused me to hold lightly to my dreams. If Honey didn’t feel comfortable in the cart, we’d never take her any farther than walking distance. And if she didn’t look able to handle the stress of life on a boat, we wouldn’t go. Honey is family.  We all have to feel comfortable with the decisions that affect us as a family.

Based on Russ’s words, I decided to let go of my expectations. Whether we achieved our goals with Honey or not, we’d both learn things. She’d probably become more confident. And hours spent training together would strengthen our relationship.

Letting go of my expectations made the work we did together easier. And Honey has made great progress. Now she is riding short distances, happily (and that’s the important part), in our bike cart.

Give Without Expectations

Writing Something Wagging This Way Comes is usually easy work.

I began this blog to track our lives with Honey and to reflect on life with dogs in general. I didn’t think anyone else would read it. Because my photos of Honey were just a record of our time together, they didn’t have to be artistic or fabulous. And in the past 2 1/2 years of blogging, it has remained easy.

I’ve held on to my low expectations and every friend I’ve made, every comment I receive, is a precious gift. It keeps blogging fun.

My other blog, Hands on Home Buyer, was hard from the very beginning.

In part because blogging in the morning followed by a long work day had me working 16 hours with first home buyers. That’s a lot of time to spend on one subject.

But I also had expectations. I knew my content was better than most of my competitors. But I found myself being dragged down by demands and questions. I found myself less cheerful about emails. And, eventually, I stopped posting.

I don’t think it was my readers who were dragging me down. I think it was my expectations.

Honey the Golden Retriever

I expect everyone will love me. Is there anything wrong with that?

I wasn’t giving generously because I liked to help people. But I was thinking that if I did a little research and crafted a thoughtful reply, it should eventually benefit me in some way. And that didn’t seem to happen.

I’ve been thinking about getting back to Hands on Home Buyer. And now I think I know how to do it well. I need to give without expectations of return. If I want to help people make smart choices about homeownership because it’s important and there aren’t enough independent voices giving good advice, then I need to want to do it regardless of expectations I’ll get more from it.

And, if I can’t give with that generosity of spirit, than maybe it’s not what I should be doing.

Expectations are a Curse 

When I look at any of my relationships, the biggest problems come when I expect something from someone else.

I’m better off accepting the person in front of me. And not expecting them to do or be something they may not be suited to.

For now, I’ll only hold a few expectations:

  • that I will love Honey no matter what our time together holds
  • that everything Chèrie learns will make her more comfortable in this world even if she never becomes fearless
  • that my husband loves me far better than expectations created out of my head could ever be
  • and that if I want to give something, I should just give it without expecting anything in return

And who knows? Perhaps if I drop enough expectations, I’ll make more room for mischief.

Welcome to Monday Mischief – The pet blog hop that wraps up the weekend! This Blog Hop is brought to you by Alfie’s Blog, Snoopy’s Dog Blog, My Brown Newfies and Luna, A Dog’s Life and you can read more about how to link up here.

Monday Mischief Pet Blog Hop

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  1. So inspirational! I’m still trying to keep my expectations low. When I do, I never fail to be surprised. :)

  2. As always, very well said Pamela. I think as human beings it is hard not to have expectations.

    I can only speak for myself when I say this, I give because I have a deep-seated need to help and nurture others, and while I don’t expect anything in return for this, it is nice when the need arises to have someone there to extend their hand as well.

    Am I disappointed sometimes, yes. But I will never stop giving, it’s just not in my nature and somehow I suspect it is not in yours either. :-)

  3. I think we all have expectation of others– expectations of love, expectations of loyalty, or expectation that your neighbour will return borrowed lawn mower. Sometimes the world revolves around those expectations. If no one returns returns borrowed items, we would all neither a borrower nor a lender be. And life would be a lot less kind.

    We do have to battle our unrealistic expectations– that every reader will love every post, that everyone will agree with all our opinions. I hope that your lack of unrealistic expectations will reap you unbelievable rewards. You deserve them!

  4. I was just thinking something similar to myself this week… Good words to remember!

  5. Hi Y’all!

    Just hoppin’ by to say “hi”.

    Honey looks like a real honey. My Human says she thinks your remarks about expectations hit the mark.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  6. Judith Gouveia says:

    Thank you once again for an insightful blog. Letting go of expectations can be hard. There are things I do because I want to do and I consider it a good deed. Other things I do because I want to, but in the back of my mind I expect something in return. I have to try to do more things because I want to, not because I might expect something in return. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Great post :) I’m certain that much of my suffering is a direct result of my high expectations. That is why dogs are really so easy to love, isn’t it? They have very little expectations and give with no need for something in return (okay, sometimes they REALLY want a yummy treat, or a good belly rub!). I’ve had trouble writing for my blog recently. Vacation is coming up and I’ve been busy, and I’m still having trouble accepting that my dog is getting old :(

    I need to go out and buy The Happiness Project . .maybe that will be good reading for my vacation!!

  8. Nice post Pamela we will make sure our peeps keep their expectations as low as possible to avoid feeling let down and then I can do as I please! Have a great day.
    Best wishes Molly

  9. I don’t think it is a bad thing to have goals and expectations as long as they are grounded in reality. I am a big believer in goal setting as something to work towards. However I also think the journey is the important part.

  10. I think it’s hard not to have expectations of others, especially people close to us. But for a blog project, I think it is a great idea to try and go in without expectations – then if it takes off – like this one did – you will be pleasantly surprised. :-)