Zero Expectations!

Posted on Posted in A-Z, LIfe's Questions

When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.

– Stephen Hawking

What do I miss out on if I try to live life without any expectations?

I find it very confusing whenever I read quotes which talk about living a life without any expectations. It has easily succeeded in confusing me in two ends –

Then what am I doing it for?

1) If I am doing something without any expectations, what am I doing it for? What is my motivation to do that something? And how do I sustain the energy to keep doing that something.

What is the motivation for me?

2) If there are no expectations, how can I attach myself emotionally to what I do and if I don’t attach myself emotionally, how can I feel for something and if I can’t feel, doesn’t everything around become mechanical and also sort of meaningless defeating its own purpose?

There seems to be an explanation here!

Well I was quite satisfied to find the answers for both of these when I came across Karmayoga and its interpretations. The reason someone would talk about life without expectations is to give you a cushion so that you don’t hurt yourself. But Karmayoga comes with a twist, it says the expectations are not to be from the external surroundings. The expectations are to be about you, about living your life to your own standards and dimensions, about pushing ourselves to achieve that something and keep going ahead. That way, it teaches us the brilliance in continuous motion and enhancement, it teaches us how to keep up the motivation and it also teaches how capable we are when we take things in our control.

As for the second question! 

As for the second question, what would someone do something for, the answer being – For the sheer fun of doing it! We have heard quotes where we say – Success is not the destination, it is the journey and the process. The journey comes with multitude emotions, the amazing dreams, the perspiration, the persistence to achieve it, the challenges which stare us in the eye, the challenges which bring out the incredible strength in us to do that something we so strongly believe in. And the answer is – Be Attached but don’t be attached at the same time! Well doesn’t this sound paradoxical?

Does it sound like a self defeating statement? 

I agree, it does sound like a self defeating statement, but if you look closely at what it says – it says be attached to the process, to the effort, to the zeal which brings out the beautiful emotions in you. Be attached to those emotions which you are in control of, be attached to those which can make you grow. At the same time, be detached from the results, the outcomes which are not in your control, something which you alone cannot determine.

Should we be satisfied with every small thing then? What about reaching our potential? 

I am not saying that we should be satisfied with everything we have, if that is the case then there is no motive to do anything further in life. I am saying, we probably need to find ways – both in the beauty of struggle and the solace of detachment. The perfect exemplification of the same being of a lotus plant which stays in water but doesn’t get wet.

I do understand it is a very abstrat thought to be writing about, I would love a further discussion on the same below 🙂

Related :

What is in it for me? 

What if things are uncertain?

What if it was all temporary? 


11 thoughts on “Zero Expectations!

  1. I guess you took it wrong Vinay, when we say don’t expect anything, it is not about not excepting results from things which you do, but it is all about expecting something from a person.

    To be very frank, there are chances that person in your life would have selfish nature and will take benefits from you only, but won’t do anything for you. So we normally say that don’t expect from him/her, as expecting something from that person will definitely give you pain.

    Similarly when you are doing some work, you should expect the tangible and feasible results from it, don’t expect something which you yourself know that it is hard to be possible. Like I published my first book, and there might be chances that I could have thought that this book will become a bestseller, then it would not be a fair expectation.

    I know my limitation and hence I thought one purchase of the same will be more than enough and to be my surprise so far its 3 copies has been sold. So that comes as a surprise to me.

    1. Perhaps Alok. Karmayoga has struck me as a concept which keeps offering me a different perspective each time I read it and it sort of keeps providing me an alternative view each time. I have seen my beliefs changing with that prospect so many times that I wonder what to believe in now!
      The idea of expecting from a person definitely offers a nicer brand of thought Alok. That is perhaps something which we can own as a mistake cos we certainly do not have the authority to expect something from someone. It is a greater feeling to get something without that expectation.
      I agree, the tangible expectations are straighter to track and that is perhaps something in our control to work on and make a difference in. I am very glad to hear that 3 copies have been sold so far Alok, I am sure there will be lots more orders to come. Wishing you the very best on that front.

      PS: I have been following this site –, the way they market their book is pretty impressive. Thought it might help, worth checking it out once 🙂

  2. There is an analogy. Act like an actor. A good actor makes his role as real as possible. At the bottom of his heart he knows it is all an act.

    1. That fits in so aptly Abhijit ji :). Kinda reminds me of Bhagawadgita where we all take the roles of a protagonist and the strings are being held with an unknown but yet a very powerful force.. At the bottom of the heart – knowing that it is all an act 🙂

  3. I’m with you on the philosophy of karma yoga. Nothing is more fulfilling than giving back to the society what you take from it. It comes a full circle. With expectations also.

    1. Thank you Vinodinii :). I agree, it is a very fulfilling feeling to be doing something without many expectations out of it. Although it does get hard sometimes, sometimes just to realize that we can be grown up enough to let go of our expectations is a very reassuring feeling 🙂

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