Suffering is the gap between what we expect and what our reality is.
If I expect to have a Tesla Model 3 (sooo sweet) but instead have a first generation Prius that smells like dog, I might be pretty miserable. If, on the other hand, I’d love to have a Tesla Model 3 but change my expectation to having a reliable vehicle regardless of flashy eco-cred, I shrink the gap between what I want and what I have. Harder said than done but no less true.
This also happens to be the foundation of non attachment. When we are attached to an outcome (eg. our kids will get an ‘A’ on their Calc test) we create an expectation. If our expectation is not met (eg. ‘A’) we suffer (eg. or get really pissed because we know they are totally smart and capable but probably didn’t study enough….). When we suffer we try to change our reality to fit our expectation (eg. ‘Study harder next time!’).
Peace (not happiness) comes from changing the expectation, not the reality. Having goals is super important. But goals are not the same as expectations. Goals are things we are working towards. Expectations are assumptions we make about the future.
Next time you get angry (or anxious or depressed), ask yourself what your expectation is compared to your reality and observe the gap between the two. Try changing the expectation just a bit.