Source: The New Yorker
It’s a new year full of possibility and New Year’s resolutions. Is this the year we should lower our expectations? We all have expectations of ourselves, others, and how the world should work. But are your expectations making you unhappy?
Expectations in daily life
Expectations help you make sense of the world. Your boss expects you to show up to work on time, you expect your doctor to make you wait for an extra 30 minutes, and you expect your kids to come home at a certain time. Expectations are a normal part of life. But sometimes, your unfair expectations can hurt others and yourself.
When people or things don’t live up to our expectations, we’ll often end up sad or upset. Just think back on when you expected to get a job and got turned away. Of course you were upset! And if you didn’t expect to get the job, and they called you five minutes later with an offer, you’d be overjoyed. Expectations aren’t necessarily bad, but we just need to be careful about how what expectations we hold and how we react when our expectations aren’t met. Setting unfair or unrealistic expectations can lead to anxiety and leave you unhappy.
Creating realistic expectations
It will take some active work on your part to “lower” your expectations this year. Remember to be realistic, but not pessimistic. Expecting a doctor to keep you waiting is probably a realistic expectation. Expecting to get in and out of a doctor’s appointment in 5 minutes is probably an unrealistic expectation.
When you realize you hold an unfair or unrealistic expectation, first ask yourself what would be a more reasonable expectation. Ask yourself questions like, “Can I control this outcome?”
Working through expectations
If your hubby sends you a text saying he has a surprise for you, and you’re expecting flowers, but instead he brings you some chocolate you don’t like, you might be a little disappointed. But how do you deal with those expectations while still maintaining a positive relationship with your husband who made an effort?
If you start to feel disappointed your husband brought you gross chocolate instead of a beautiful bouquet, you’ll have to stop and ask yourself why you are feeling disappointed. When you realize it’s because you had an expectation to get flowers, you can reevaluate the unfair expectations you are placing on your husband. Your husband didn’t know you wanted flowers, so it’s unfair to be upset with him for not bringing flowers. Next time, let him know that you’d love for him to bring you flowers sometime. For now, just focus on the positive and thank your husband for making your day special.
Next time you feel disappointed or upset about the outcome of something, take some time to think about what expectations you had. Evaluating your expectations and setting more realistic expectations this year might just make you a little bit happier.