How Eliminating Unrealistic Expectations Can Make You A Happier Person
Do you feel like you're constantly being let down? Do you feel like nothing ever goes as planned? Are you frustrated? Do you know why? Well, it probably has to do with your expectations.
Don't lower or raise your expectations — just eradicate them entirely.
I'm not suggesting that you should never expect anything of anyone or any situation — that would be ridiculous and leave you living a very strange, monotonous and probably friend-less, cat-laden lifestyle. When we expect specific outcomes in each situation we encounter, we're bound to end up distraught and disappointed for the simple fact that things don't always happen the way we want them to happen. This throws our internal balances out-of-whack, which we obviously don't want.
To restore balance, it's important to separate your expectations into realistic and unrealistic.
1. Unrealistic Expectations
Let's say I know I'm going to In 'N Out. I can realistically expect that I am about to eat something straight from the heavens. It is not realistic for me to expect that I would be able to enjoy my double meat and fries while sitting next to Ryan Gosling. If I get my hopes up about this, they will be crushed into millions of pieces.
It's best to abandon unrealistic expectations. If the unexpected miraculously occurs, it would be a pleasant surprise. The deluded expectation only causes pain and it's a completely unnecessary downer. Understood? Good.
2. Realistic Expectations And Unnecessary Expectations
Now we're left with the realistic, valid expectations. We judge what is realistic based on past experiences and information that we have. Continuing with the hamburger scenario, years of evidence leads me to expect an amazing fast-food-coma-inducing experience. There's still a chance that something could go wrong, though. If it does, I'll be devastated.
But, is this worth getting upset over? Is it significant? How much will it really impact my life? Should I let it impact my life? For the sake of this example, we'll say no. And if the answer in real life is no, move the expectation to the 'unnecessary' pile along with other expectations to eradicate. This pile is full of expectations that don't revolve around the real, important and core qualities that you value highly.
We go through our days expecting things from each other and from situations, which is not inherently negative. We should expect certain qualities and values from our peers, coworkers and kin — from our careers and our daily lives. But if we expect towers of things from each of these, they will all collapse. It's best to analyze first and decide what's actually worth the potential crush before building it up high and tall.
Perhaps there are certain qualities of friendship — for instance, loyalty and support — that you find more significant than others. Hold your friends accountable to those and make sure they know those are the things that are important to you. Do not carry a list of many items you expect from all of your friends — they will constantly disappoint you. Focus your energies on the things that are most important to help you better understand yourself.
It's important to work on removing the extra, unnecessary expectations that weigh us down. It's a matter of remembering that expectations are just a projection into the future and a product of your mind. There's always a chance that they may turn out unexpectedly. Why create all of that room for disappointment, defeat and negativity? Try to minimize your expectations. Try to focus them around the values and qualities that matter most to you — they're worth it. Expectations for your Friday night out? Not so much. Enough disappointment — it's time for happiness.
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