MINIMIZE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
I used to be a person expecting a lot from everything and everybody around me. At one point, I realized that this attitude significantly reduced the satisfaction I get out of life. Cuz’ in its essence high expectations lead to deep disappointments if not met. So everything started with self-observation and trying to improve myself on taking the control of my expectations.
Well, from my experience I can say that expectations are all that prevent you from being fully happy. The more you expect, the less you feel satisfied. This can be formulated as this:
Happiness = Reality – Expectations
As seen in the formula, the less we expect, the happier we tend to be.
Why so though?
According to a research done by United College London (UCL), lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness. So, the path to more happiness is actually very easy! Just LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS!
Why do we enjoy it a lot when spontaneous things (that we not at all expect) happen? Meeting new people randomly, getting lost in the streets we’ve never been, travelling with no plan… Living with no expectations makes us much happier than we think. It allows us to enjoy the unexpected surprizes that life offers.
Normally, what we constantly do in life is that we unwittingly compare the actual reality with our expectations. If the reality seems better than our expectations, we feel more satisfied and happy.
Do you remember that time when you were impatiently waiting for that festival, concert, reunion or whatever event that you expected to be wonderful and got very disappointed because it was not at all like how you imagined in your mind?
Do you remember getting very upset because one of your best friends haven’t called/texted you as much as you did?
High expectations dominate your happiness. Because when the reality doesn’t exceed your expectations, you automatically get disappointed, upset and discontented.
WHAT TO DO THEN?
Of course, you will always have some expectations. We constantly take people’s recommendations about things, we hear comments, we read reviews, we empathize with those around us and expect certain things from them. The key point is to be aware of our own expectations. Being aware of your own thoughts, opinions, expectations and feelings is always a good start. Being able to look at them from outside helps you judge yourself in a neutral way. Once you are aware of your expectations, you can start working on minimizing them.
I had one friend to whom I was having hard feelings simply because she didn’t pay as much attention to me as I did to her. First I’ve come to think that everybody has their own ways of behaving in a friendship or a relationship. I decided to accept the way she acts in our friendship and everything started to go much more smoothly between us. Because there was no longer the negative vibe I carried towards her nor the anger.
Relationships with others are always more complex. But it is essential that we don’t expect others to behave exactly the same way as we do. Every single of us has our own priorities and set of beliefs. Therefore, an integral part of the process of lowering expectations from others lies in our ability to recognise and accept the differences in behaviours, reactions and expectations of one another.
When it comes to expecting less from the things around us, it requires self-observation. If you find yourself saying: “Geez, this trip/restaurant/concert/movie is gotta be the best.” you know you are expecting maybe too much. So you’ve got couple of options to overcome your high expectations:
1-Try to be like Tabula Rasa (blank sheet). Pretend as if you heard nothing about whatever you’re planning to do. Forget about all the things people told you, forget about all your expectations, fake yourself!
Too hard? Let’s move to Plan B
2-There can always be some randomness or spontaneity in every situation. You go to a highly recommended town abroad expecting certain things, you can still get spontaneous. Meet random people, visit places you were not told about, drink beer with the people you’ve just met, go skinny dipping, do things you’d say you’d never do… Remember, there is always some room for spontaneity in every situation.
Still not works for you?
Hey! The world is full of other amazing places to visit, some other amazing restaurants to try, other events to participate. Change whatever you’ve planned, do something totally different (or slightly different) that will save you from your expectations.
It’s obvious that all of us need some more spontaneity in life. That state of mind in which you feel like you are just flowing in the river… In today’s world where we have access to all the information we need (and don’t need!), it is almost impossible not to have pre-judgments, expectations or opinions about things. But if we can manage to observe our own self, we can control how we perceive the reality and become happier.
BE SPONTANEOUS BE HAPPY!
PS. That said, the last thing I want is to discourage you to challenge yourself in life. This is a path to happiness and peace that I discovered on my journey. Yet this mentality should never stop anyone to take risks and challenges to do better in life. I try to expect less from outside, but always keep expectations high from myself because there are tons of things I want to achieve in life. So my point here is: keeping your expectations low brings you more happiness and inner peace, but don’t bring them to a level where you feel no longer challenged to improve yourself!