My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus. Stephen Hawking

I took the long weekend to unplug in nature, rising early Saturday morning to camp in the South Bay, near Pinnacles National Park. As the newest National Park, it is less developed and has minimal services. That, coupled with our slow to lan nature, pushed us towards using Hipcamp to secure a campsite on private land within minutes of the park.

We pulled into the designated camping field and disappointment struck me immediately. My definition of camping is not an open field filled with tents, but that was the reality of the designated camping area. The ranch was overrun with 60 people gathering for their annual college reunion. They were blasting music too loud to hear the birds and animals of the ranch. I immediately went in two directions.

1) I beat myself up for not having done more research in advance of signing on to the weekend

2) Anger at the ranch for their poor hospitality and camping accommodations.

Upon checking in with the hosts, we began to inquire about the property. We learned about how long it had been under their care and how they run their business. We came to understand that 100% of their bottom line comes from renting their land. Once we gained an understanding of their world, they offered us access to camp anywhere on their 61 acres. We ventured out to scout the property to find the perfect location to pitch our tent. We drove 5 minutes down a dirt road, crossed a narrow river and spotted a breathtaking flat-topped hill. At the top of the hill was a single, massive tree adorned with two rope swings. From the top of the hill, the people and music that had consumed our experience moments before were far in the distance. The site evolved into a weekend home beyond my wildest imagination.

I enjoyed my coffee beneath the tree our first morning and began to think about the relative value of our site. It increased 10 fold when compared to the original fear of camping in a packed field. Our exposure to a less than ideal option opened the gates to revel in the beauty of where we camped. When we expected very little, we received a lot.

This experience repeats itself in any camping adventure. When I pull away from the conveniences of my home in Oakland, the value of inside my house, the value of simple things exponentially increases. A warm cup of coffee cooked outside on a camp stove becomes a miracle. The warmth from the campfire blows you away because the experience would be much colder without the fire's flames. A scrambled egg and sweet potato breakfast resembles a five-star meal because one cannot easily expect a well spiced, warm meal cooked outside.

By adjusting our expectations to be primitive and basic, anything that we experience above that line is a gift. We have the power to see everything through this lens. Our inflated expectations are the single greatest killer of seeing the joy in our lives. When we can adjust our expectations, we open the door to abundance. The joy we extract is real. It is not something we had to trick ourselves into seeing.

Where might you extract joy from adjusting your expectations?