I’m a big fan of lowering expectations. It’s literally free happiness.
Reality – Expectation = Perceived Contentment (Happiness)
Theoretically, you can be content with any circumstance as long as you’re expecting worse.1Think of the time when you were actually satisfied because things weren’t as bad as you expected. Shouldn’t you’ve been unhappy?2Think deeply enough: “life” is already an impossible event. If life itself is unexpected, every event in life is unexpected!
In a sense, “happiness” is a simple question.3“Lowering expectations” made the biggest change in my happiness.
Expectations borrow emotions from the future.
You fantasize (about the future) and feel good, for a moment. This deal isn’t worth it; you’re trading away reality for imaginations4which is never as good.
We instinctively grow expectations. We look for signs of good outcomes5even if it doesn’t change the way we act. Our monkey brains are hardwired to optimize for immediate pleasures.
Hence, you have to learn to lower expectations (in order to maximize happiness).
Lowering expectations is mostly a skill…actually it’s not even a skill,6for the most partit’s a choice.
Choose to expect less. It’s that simple. In my experience, telling myself, “I’m expecting this7much less than I typically would expectresult.” made the fastest change in happiness. Telling others work wonders, too.
Get happiness with this one weird trick: “If I end up with this, I’ll be happy.”
It’s sort of a skill because you get better at it over time.
As Far As It Goes
The truth is, you don’t deserve anything. Nobody deserves anything. Things just happen. “Right” is no more than a social construct.
You can go very far with low expectations. After all, life itself is a near-impossible event; no event in life is less probable than life itself.9“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
(If anything, death10which takes everything back to 0is always an option.)
Expectations come from the past.
From comparing the past to the present. When if you’re in pain, a harsher pain 2 minutes ago makes the current pain more bearable. On the contrary: if Messi scores 10 goals in a season,11he typically scores 50+he’ll consider retiring. If Lingard scores 10,12would be his career-besthe’ll be ecstatic.13This is why peace feels like happiness, when it’s actually nothing. The typical human state is misery; “contrast to 0” is (+).14This is true in general; not just about thoughts.
Although, time flows; the “past” becomes irrelevant, and the “present” becomes the “new past”. Humans are phenomenal at adapting. Wherever you are, will soon be your new norm.15Lingard won’t be as happy with 10 goals in his next season.
Expectations come from sacrifices.16Sacrifices” also mean time/effort/pain.
Humans run on reward systems. We inevitably expect things in response to our sacrifices. So, it’s important to make as little sacrifice as possible (for maximizing happiness).
“How am I supposed to work for something without expecting anything out of it?”
You can’t…if the “work” is a sacrifice. Do something “for its own sake”, the results are a bonus.17Hence, I think that: If you’re going to do something great, you better love the process. If not, the sacrifices just aren’t worth it; you’ll grind through the whole process, the suffering is too much.18Also, the most successful people tend to like their activities. Artists like drawing, youtubers like filming videos, bodybuilders like lifting weights, etc. Perhaps you shouldn’t try to rank in the billboard charts, if you hate making music…
If you see something as a sacrifice, it becomes a sacrifice; it creates resistance19from doing the work, requiring more effortand a craving for reward.
It’s easy to make yourself hate doing something20that you don’t mind doing, or even, like doingby telling yourself. Don’t. It’s unnecessary suffering.
Questions & comments are welcome!