Is it good for us to live our lives with high expectations? Will it make us happy? Or will we be happier if we lower our expectations?
But what if we keep our expectations high? If we do, there is a high likelihood we will experience disappointment. Not everyone, or every situation, can live up to our expectations all the time. More so if we set the bar too high.
To have a happier life is it as simple as lowering our expectations? We humans are complex beings. We might be alike in many ways, yet in many ways we are different. Thus, we have different expectations of ourselves, others, and life situations.
We create expectations through education, role models, and life experiences. These shape our way of thinking, our view of the world. A view that we are comfortable with. This is why change can be so difficult.
Self-reflection for a happy life
Self-reflection on how we see the world can help with our happiness thermostat. It can help if we get in touch with our feelings and emotions. Self-awareness can help us change what is not working for us. That is, events or people that creates unhappiness.
Have you ever been to a holiday destination or restaurant, one that you totally enjoyed? If you go back at a later date your expectations will be linked to the feeling and emotions of the previous time. Your expectations will we high.
You want your experience to match those of your earlier happy experience. If not, you are disappointed. So, there is good reason to lower our expectations on these occasions.
Lowering our expectations does not mean we expect the worst. But it will help us face less disappointment and disillusionment with people and situations.
Controlling our environment through expectations
It is impossible for us to control our environment, what is happening for us in life, all the time. If we try to control people and outcomes this can lead to disillusionment.
Yes, if we have high expectations of others, all the time, we are doomed for disappointment. Not everyone thinks and behaves the same as you or I do. So, for me, one of the keys to a happy life, is to lower our expectations.
To keep our happiness thermostat high, it all about our attitude – people are doing the best they can. Even if we find them or their behaviour annoying, we must lower our expectations. Then we will experience more happiness and less disappointment.
Getting the expectation balance right
There are steps we can take to balance our expectations in life. It is a good idea to do this because if our expectations are too high, our mood will be too low.
If we can accept where we are in life, embrace our situation we will feel better. That does not mean we cannot have high hopes that things will change for the better. But there are times when change happens slowly. So does acceptance and adapting to new circumstances.
It takes energy to try and change or control situations and people. So there comes a time when we must let the waters flow around us. Time to go with the flow. It is also a good time to create or change our goals and expectations. Ones that will help us not hinder us.
Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy, wrote the Gestalt Prayer. It is about a person living in harmony according to their own needs. It encourages us to do what feels right for ourselves instead of looking to outside influences to define our needs. For anyone who is struggling with high expectations, I hope this will help.
The Gestalt Prayer
I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.
End of story.