“There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations.” - Jodi Picoult
Having expectations is expected in western culture. We are brought up to expect great things from our self, our future and the people in our lives. The issue is when our expectations are unfulfilled, we become disappointed.
It’s important to manage expectations for no other reason than our sense of happiness, because the less disappointment we face, the happier we are. When we live with strong desires for certain outcomes, it tends to create demands on other people, which can cause stress in relationships.
When I was younger my mom told me one of the main reasons she is happily married is because she doesn’t expect anything from my dad. She doesn’t expect him to be home for dinner, so when he is, she is pleasantly surprised, rather than constantly upset when he has to work late. She adjusted her way of thinking early on in their marriage so she could appreciate the good things, rather than dwell on the times things didn’t happen like she thought they would.
“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” –Donald Miller
The relationships in your life will improve when you release people from your expectations. Nothing is worse than a friend bailing on plans or forgetting your birthday, but the reality is people are always going to disappoint you. Alter your mindset to be thankful for the time you spend with the people you love, rather than letting their imperfections bring you down. Letting go of expectations creates opportunity for more deep and meaningful relationships. Gratitude is more fulfilling than expectation.
“It is not the cares of today, but the cares of tomorrow, that weigh a man down.” - George MacDonald
Living without expectations leads to less stress because you no longer feel angry or disappointed when things don’t work out the way you hoped. Many people think that worry is a natural human emotion, but that isn’t true. Things will happen the way they are meant to happen whether you worry about it or not. When you are focused on the present rather than the future, your body can remain calm and you will be happier.
“Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not.” Valery Satterwhite
If you can master a life of no expectations, you will achieve a greater inner peace. When you stop analyzing how something should work out, it gives to time to enjoy the beauty of the present moment. When your mind is more focused, your energy can be put toward things that can actually improve your quality life.
Instead of being disappointed in an outcome, learn to be disappointed in your own expectations. When you rework your mindset toward expectations, you will gradually change your way of thinking. It’s okay to anticipate something working out well, just learn to be okay when it doesn’t.
The sooner you release people and situations from your expectations, the sooner you will see that the best things in life are usually things we don’t anticipate. It’s the times things don’t go as expected that open our eyes to new ways of living.