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How To Be Happy By Lowering Expectations

Updated on December 19, 2016
Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 is a science buff with 11 years of experience writing about of psychology and related-topics.

Can you live a happier life by lowering the expectations you have from life? Can you moderate your expectations and live a more fulfilling, content and happier life? I believe you can. On the face of it, lowering the expectations you have from your life might seem like a defeatist/negative strategy. One could argue that by lowering your expectations, you might achieve less. I am not sure I agree with this thought process. You should not aim low, but you should keep your expectations in check. In my own personal experience, I've observed that by lowering my expectations about a particular outcome, I've gotten the strength to deal with setbacks better. If on the other hand, instead of a setback, you were pleasantly surprised, the happiness you would derive from it would be that much more.

I've come across people through my life, who have been extremely positive, which in the general sense is a good thing. It would be hard to argue against a positive mindset. All the literature would tell you that being positive is a good thing and an essential trait to achieve success. I couldn't agree more, but most people with a positive mindset also tend to have high expectations. Well, nothing wrong in that too. Provided that the outcome of their expectations is positive, all ends well, but what if things don't go to plan and instead of a success, they come face to face with failure?

How would a person with high expectations or sky-high expectations, who would have thought of the outcome to be a 100% favorable to him/her, react? In most cases, the reaction is one of depression, varying from mild to severe depending on the event/importance of that event to the person concerned. One could argue that in the normal course, a person is likely to suffer more disappointments than successes, and hence the stress these negative outcomes can have can only be harmful to the person.

Ground Your Expectations - It's Easy To Do So

It is, therefore, a far better strategy to always ground your expectations. You may want a certain thing to happen in the way you envisaged and could desperately hope that it would turn out the way you anticipated, but if they don't happen to your expectations, you should always be prepared to deal with the consequences of the unfavorable outcome. If one were to train one's mind to always ground one's expectations by anticipating both success and failure in a 50:50 ratio, one could avoid being shocked or feel let down immensely by a negative outcome.

An overtly positive person (and I've met many of these persons) needs to learn to lower his/her expectations. Now, this doesn't mean that you stop being ambitious or being positive, just that you learn to anticipate failures just as you would successes. The higher your expectations, the more disappointed and heartbroken you would be if things don't work out.

On the other hand, by having moderate expectations of life, you find yourself more pleasantly surprised at your successes and be better prepared to deal with failures. I really do believe that your perception of happiness has a direct bearing on your expectations. If you can learn to manage expectations, you would find yourself a happier person and in the long term would achieve more as a direct consequence of being healthier, without the added stress, and be a more well-rounded individual.

© 2010 Shil1978


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