I got to thinking about expectations the other day. When I started studying this philosophy, I had no expectations except that maybe my life would become bearable. Then I started classes and was told my life could be transformed. There is often a learning curve in this kind of life and thinking transformation that many of us aren’t expecting. At some point, I began to believe that if I could just really learn this stuff, I would never have any real problems again. I don’t mean bad haircuts, I mean no loss of friends or fear of not being able to pay bills or challenges dealing with difficult family members. I mean never being really sick again or expensive repairs to my home. If I got really, really good, I’d never need to use my emergency credit card and I could transform my prudent reserve account into a dream vacation account. Funny, but that’s not where I’ve ended up. What I found for myself, and see in many others every day, is that we learn very quickly in the beginning. Maybe that’s because it all sounds so magical and we have no resistance to playing along. Maybe that’s because our painful issues, the ones that brought us here, have the majority of our attention and any relief feels huge. Or maybe because we just learn a lot of new information in the first few months and that makes a big difference. Real change takes time. Deep change requires a great deal of attention and effort, especially as we become less and less driven by pain. By now, I have mostly what I call “first-world problems.” I get irritated because my cell phone seems smarter than I am. I notice I get a little tense because I have big bills coming up (as opposed to going into complete denial or meltdown). I am happier in general, so I need to really pay attention to the ways I can deepen my practice and become calmer and more centered. The truth is, this philosophy will change your life. Mostly it will change you on the inside. Some of the same types of tragedy or challenges might occur, but how I look at them has changed so radically that the experience of those challenges feels like a different thing. This philosophy is a tool. We use it to handle the life we live. It’s not a deterrent to life but a means of living more happily and more successfully.