You Get What you Expect

Thanksgiving launches us full-speed into the holiday season, potentially a time of great stress. Certainly it is fraught with many emotions, both positive and negative.

As you look ahead to your Thanksgiving plans, you may want to do what my teacher Abraham Hicks calls “pre-paving.” Actually, most of us have already done quite a lot of pre-paving in the form of expectations. You may want to do some deliberate pre-paving.

If you expect Thanksgiving to be a problem, you are probably basing that expectation on past years when things did not go so well. Conversely, those of you who cannot wait to sit around the table visiting with the friends and family you love have used your memories of past holidays to fuel an expectation of a good time.

Either way, you get what you expect.

It is a rare one among us who completely ignores what has happened in the past and decides what kind of holiday they intend to have. This is pre-paving—shaping your experience in advance.

You will be pleasantly surprised by what you can accomplish when you decide beforehand the kind of experience you intend to have. For example, if you think ahead to the things Uncle Fred typically says that make you want to scream, you can decide that this year you will listen to his particular brand of craziness and regard it as humorously eccentric. In fact, you may want to take notes so that, after the holiday, you can entertain your friends with stories of his antics.

You can also use your fertile imagination to turn your cousin Maria (the one who is always trying to tell you how to run your life) into an Oprah gone horribly wrong. Imagine her as a talk show host and picture the audience’s reaction to the bad advice she spouts. You’ll (almost) feel sorry for her as she continues to regale you with her good ideas for how your life ought to be.

You can even listen to those things your parents say every year that trigger the four-year-old inside you to stage a tantrum and instead smilingly respond, “I know you say that because you love me. I love you, too.” Wouldn’t that be worth the looks of shock on their faces? After all, their memories of holidays past are probably that you usually “overreact” to things.

What’s interesting about the holidays is how they so clearly demonstrate that you get what you expect. Oh sure, I know that you think you expect everyone to link arms, sing a happy song and be lovey-dovey. That’s not an expectation, it’s a hope. Consider that the Law of Attraction says you get more of what you focus on. In reality, you’re not focused on having a happy holiday you’re worried that it will all go wrong and that you’ll be disappointed one more time. The more worried you are, the more likely that the holidays will be a rough ride.

You get what you expect.

What if you approached Thanksgiving with the expectation that you’re going to have a good time–period? It isn’t contingent on the behavior of others. The meal you sit down to needn’t be perfect. Heck, your favorite football team doesn’t even need to win. (Gasp—such blasphemy!) No matter what happens, you fully intend to have a good time.

You get what you expect.

This is something you can put into play every single day, holiday or not. Pre-paving can mean using the time in your shower each morning to decide to have a great day. If you think about it, you’re probably already deciding to have a not-so-good day by spending your shower time focused on problems you have to deal with in the hours ahead.

You can also use this technique of pre-paving any time you like. You can stop yourself in the course of your day and decide that, in the next hour things are going to improve considerably (even if they are already great).

You get what you expect.

Whatever your expectations for Thanksgiving, I wish you a holiday of focusing on what you are grateful for and whispering, “Thank you” to your higher power. While you’re at it, you may want to express gratitude for the incredible freedom that lies in your ability to get what you expect.

Download a PDF of this column