“There are two ways to be happy: improve your reality or lower your expectations.” Jodi Picoult
In my younger years, I was adamant that I had no expectations about my life. I gave off an ‘I don’t care’ vibe, and managed to pull it off quite well – to an extent.
In reality, I had very little control of my expectations and displayed an unrealistic view of how life should be. This was especially reflected in my relationships with others, and in particular my romantic relationships.
A few years ago, my boyfriend at the time was returning from a business trip and I was excited to see him after a week apart. Throughout the day at work, I was in a fantastic mood, cheerfully buoyant and ready for our reunion later that evening.
However, when he actually arrived home, he was tired after a long drive and seemed preoccupied with work, complaining about his manager and stomping around the house.
In the end, deprived of the reunion I had envisioned, I flounced off to bed early and left him to brood alone.
The next morning, I realised quickly that my reaction had been unfair. When my high expectations of our reunion had not been met, I had taken it personally and become angry and frustrated. I hadn’t taken into account the possibility of my boyfriend being tired and withdrawn, which was kind of selfish.
This is the most normal example I can bring to mind of my ridiculously high or stupidly low expectations causing unnecessary hurt and misery to both myself and those involved.
Our expectations create a view of how we think things should be, but very often people fail to live up to them. We cannot control how others feel, think and act, and by continuing to attempt to, we are setting ourselves up for a whole world of disappointment and unhappiness.
Losing all expectations brings us into any situation with an open mind, and clears the way for a happier communion with the people in our lives. But freeing ourselves of expectations is easier said than done.
Here are a few tips on how to lead a happier life expectation-free.
- Start with a clean slate. Go forward with an open mind. Forget about anything that has happened in the past, or that you think should happen in the future. Concentrate on the present and put one foot in front of the other. Stay in the moment and accept it for what it is.
- Concentrate on yourself. It may sound self-centred, but by concentrating on yourself and your own happiness, you won’t have quite so much time to wonder about other people’s actions. Plus, the only thing you really have control over is YOU.
- Embrace your life. Learn to appreciate the things you do have in your life rather than hankering after the things you don’t. Life is pretty amazing when you begin to live it day-by-day instead of constantly expecting things to go exactly the way you want them to. Okay, so your life may not be perfect, but nothing is.
- Be realistic. When you find yourself starting to expect something from a situation, stop! Take a step back and have a hard look at whether or not your belief or expectation matches reality. Is it really likely to pan out the way you think it will? Or are you being unrealistic? Sometimes, giving yourself the time to think it through rationally is all the help you will need.