Happiness Without The Lens of Expectations

How to live without having expectation hangover.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

You wouldn’t be disappointed, if you didn’t have expectations, right?

People often confuse hope and illusion passively hoping for something to happen and assuming no responsibility for their life, which consequently leads to disappointment.

But what actually leads to disappointments and this vicious circles?

These are the preliminary expectations and ideas one sets for him or herself.

People are usually taught to expect the best, to believe in the favorable outcomes of everything, to “tune” themselves for the good and it will come?

Here comes a subtle fact.

It is true that you need to “see” your goals and to imagine as clearly as you can what you want.

The difficulty is that you mentally put a specific scenario in which you believe a situation must develop in. And with this scenario, you set limits. For instance:

The expectation of someone behaving a certain way.

There are expectations you see that others need to do a certain way. Yet, in the other person’s mind things are completely different and his or her thoughts are nothing like yours.

Ultimately, this leads to disappointment, offensiveness and anxiousness, spoiling your mood. Your focus becomes centered on the fact that things were not as you wished them to be and you discard the focus on something else that precluded enjoyment.

Why were you disappointed and why was your mood impaired because the other individual did not behave as you had decided? Does your happiness depend on this?

Why do you determine that the other person’s behavior may be a criterion for your happiness? And why do you want at all cost for everything to be exactly the way you want it?

Is it because you’ve seen that this is how it happens on the big movie screen? Or is it that you have heard that it makes people happy?

In fact, you place specific conditions on your mind and mood, which impacts your decision of feeling good. As you’ve identified, “If this person is so, I’ll be happy, if not, I’ll be unhappy.”

During this interaction many surprising things could happen and other ones could develop that are also exciting, yet you do not allow yourself to be happy when things do not go according to your plan.

The higher expectations one places for him or herself, the more narrow the boundaries become and the more the individual becomes disappointed.

Here, I’m not saying that you have to approve of or like any or all behaviors of others. Yet, why should something that the other person did not say make you unhappy?

You make a choice in every situation. You can leave the situation, or enjoy the moments as they are and learn something about the other person.

Have you thought why you’ve chosen to be unhappy?

Too often people plan something for a long time and something happens at the last minute, which springs something unexpected.

For instance, for months you have imagined the details of a trip you have planned. A trip to a tropical island with views of the ocean. When you arrive there, an error has occurred in the reservation system — there is no room available in your hotel and you cannot be accommodated. The closest hotel you can reserve a room in is far away from the beach environment you’ve been waiting for for such a long time.

This small change in the plan is able to make you feel unhappy. It makes you think, “I planned this for months and was imaging the views of the beach. This situation ruined by entire vacation. I don’t want to stay at another hotel.”

Thus, you end up spending the entire vacation week murmuring and complaining.

At such situations, do you find yourself objecting or looking for the positives in the situation? Do you ever think that there might’ve been a better option for you to stay at a different hotel, not at the one you reserved? But no, you most likely choose to be as offended as a child, stamping your foot to the ground and refusing to enjoy your vacation.

In such instances, you end up seeing the decision of a questionable situation or condition in a certain way.

For instance, you dream of a big house and because of your current pay or other situations within your life, you do not see this “big house” as achievable.

You clung to this option, waiting for something to happen by being disappointed that nothing is happening, while missing many unexpected opportunities and rejecting good options that arise.

You don’t realize that while you’re expecting things to happen in a certain way, you’re only increasing the likelihood to miss other opportunities. As you close the doors to the news ones.

In her book The Totality of Possibilities, Louise Hay writes:

“I live in the totality of possibilities. There is always another way.”

Sometimes in life there are periods when nothing happens, as you want. You plan something, yet your plans become something else. As everything is against you. You begin to convince yourself that the more you prepare for something, the more likely is that you fail.

Your interpretation comes as everything is against you. As life is spoiling your plans, it’s bad luck and bad fate.

The person that is against you is you. You set the conditions and limitations for yourself. And when things fail, life is actually trying to open your eyes and tell you:

“Hey you, look around, look at what is happening around you, don’t set limitation and conditions for yourself, look at what I’m sending you.”

What makes you unhappy is illusionary image that you create, trying to align it with reality. It prevents you from seeing the good that exists in every situation.

I am convinced that when something does not happen, as we want, there’s a reason for that and it is always good (as banal as this may sound).

While blaming others, fate, luck, you are not realizing that the Universe, God, Higher Power, or anything else you believe or you do not believe in, actually has given you a gift.

What do you think? Is it possible to remove the preliminary images we’ve created for ourselves throughout life and to enjoy the surprise life brings us?

What would life look like if you could look at things as they happen in their pure natures without being burdened by preliminary expectations?

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About The Author

Dr. Kachovska is an internationally known Change Catalyst. She teaches individuals and organizations about awareness, connection and the need for change — personally, socially, and professionally.

You can connect with her on Thrive Global, Medium, Twitter and LinkedIn