Think back to a time when you recently felt hurt, disappointed, angry, frustrated or annoyed. Now explore the reasons why you might’ve had these emotions. In most cases, we feel these things because of the power of our expectations. Our expectations of the world, of ourselves and of other people. We expect things to happen a certain way and when they don’t fall into place, we can become hurt and feel disappointed.
The Unexpected Power of Expectations
It’s natural to have standards and build up a world full of expectations inside our heads. After all, we grow up in a certain environment with certain people and do things a certain way. So when we enforce our expectations on how someone should act, behave, drive or live their life, we inevitably, almost certainly, will become disappointed. Just remember, that person grew up in their own world with their own values and ideals too.
We also have a lot of expectations for ourselves too. Our looks, personality, job, friends, possessions; our life. While they do set a baseline for our goals and ambitions, more often than not, they bring negative emotions and stress into our lives.
An Unexpected Alternative
That is why we all should lower our expectations. Better yet, have no expectations at all. It opens up a world full of acceptance and kindness. We start to accept things for what they are, events as they come and people for who they are. The reality is what it is and instead of trying to force the world into one that we prefer, we can direct that energy into our acceptance and a more helpful response. Instead of harbouring any negative feelings, we let go and move on.
The more we practice this expectation-free living, the easier it will become. We also start to reap the rewards; it’s utterly freeing and we become more content and happy with our lives.
Expect Less, Accept More
When a friend is late to lunch, instead of holding onto the expectation that they should have been here on time, we can focus on enjoying the time spent together. When the same friend is again late to lunch, we can maybe explore why they were late without judgement or just accept the reality of the situation and enjoy each other’s company.
Previously, I lived my life with lots of expectations. My upbringing, personality and perception of the world caused me a lot of grief. I was somehow always disappointed, hurt or frustrated at my life. My finger was always pointed towards at the events that had unfolded, people’s behaviour, politics, myself and the list goes on. What I didn’t realise was that I was trying to bend things to fit into my margins of life. So when I lowered my expectations and accepted things as they came, it was amazing to see the negative energy become dimmer and dimmer.
Living a life without expectations doesn’t mean we have no values or integrity. The world isn’t faultless. There are broken systems, unfortunate events and hurtful actions where we may feel inclined to take action upon and that we should. Lowering our expectations just means we can protect ourselves and prevent that negative light from outshining our spirit.
The Determinants of Happiness
The power of expectations isn’t the only thing that determines our happiness. There are other factors that play a part too.
Check out these other happiness-related articles!