Three Expectations that Kill Happiness

Blog by Tracy Stock, CSP

Expectations are strong beliefs—unyielding personal perceptions—that something will happen or be the case.

This past Sunday I heard a thought-provoking message about expectations and how they are sometimes about hope and other times about things not going our way. Regardless, expectations are about what we perceive them to be and if they are viewed through a pessimistic lens, some can be real happiness killers.

For example, “Life should be fair.” If you have this expectation, you will certainly be disappointed…often. Life isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people all the time for no reason. And likewise, good things happen to bad people too. Expecting that you will have a similar number of difficulties/failures and wins/successes as everyone else is not logical. Instead, ask yourself, “How will I push forward and persevere when faced with an inevitable hardship?”

Another expectation to be mindful of is “Everyone should like and accept me.” The truth is, they don’t and won’t. You don’t like everyone you come into contact with, so why should others feel an unwavering admiration toward you? Instead, focus on earning the trust and respect of those individuals who mean the most and let go of trying to catch the disease to please.

“That thing will make me happy,” is another dangerous expectation. What do you predict will make you the happiest? This is a tough question to answer and even tougher to actually guess right. Will becoming rich make you ecstatically euphoric? Will buying a new car drive elated heel-clicking happiness? Will earning that next promotion yield enduring cloud-nine blissfulness? These enticing dangling carrots do not cause or bring happiness. And worst yet, as we adapt our circumstances, our new normal will emerge, and the continued quest for extraordinary exhilaration ensues. Instead of looking for things to make you happy, being consciously aware of what you’re grateful for can actually change your level of happiness. Gratitude is a powerful antidote and one often overlooked to remedy discontentment and dissatisfaction. What are you grateful for?

Rather than expecting things should always go your way, being hopeful and optimistic that goodness will come and then choosing to take action to help make that happen—will likely result in a positive expectation that becomes reality.

During November—a month designated for giving thanks—choose to be hopeful about positive changes on the horizon, exercise focus and discipline to help you attain your goals and what you desire most, and then challenge yourself to exercise gratitude every day this month. Don’t be a happiness slayer; instead, the key is being the architect for designing a new reality for you.

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