I had a bit of Monday-morning-coffee clarity today, and thought I’d share.
(This no doubt a credit to the countless School of Life videos I watch… alongside years of therapy now)
Your happiness is determined by your expectations.
And that’s it, really.
What happens when you find a dollar on the street?
You’re gonna feel amazing.
I remember once walking through my Whittier neighborhood with a friend and finding a $50 bill (!) on the sidewalk. No one else around, no evidence of an owner, just us and this pure luck, and an absolute SURGE of happiness. (Not to mention an extra round of drinks that evening)
No one expects to find money on the ground.
And it’s for that reason alone that it feels like such a gift.
Now what if you’ve landed a seat at a Michelin 5-star restaurant and are expecting the best steak of your life. But you receive just an incredibly delicious steak.
You’re gonna be eating an incredibly delicious meal, and feel unhappy. Nagged by a sense of being let down in some way.
It’s the same thing with a partner. If you’re expecting your partner to be your superhero, your saviour, your everything – you’re gonna be miserable.
Because no human can be all those things for you.
Or should, after you’re about 10 years old.
It’s not about LoWeRiNg expectations… it’s about developing awareness of what your expectations actually are.
Pulling them into the conscious part of your brain to see “Wow, I didn’t even realize that I was holding these expectations.. and now I have the agency to change them. To make them more realistic. To make them more appropriate to a situation.”
It’s not lowering an expectation to have a spouse be a loving caring human in your life.
It’s a very inappropriate expectation to have that spouse be your rescuer, savior, superhero, therapist, everything.
It was a revolutionary idea for me when I realized I could choose what I expect out of people. Out of the world. Out of myself.
That I had access to the agency to say “hey is this expectation something I need to carry around with me in this life – would I be happier if I stopped needing everyone to be something they aren’t.”
What if you walked around everyday expecting to find a dollar on the ground?
Everyday would be a let down, right? You’d get frustrated that the world was such a dollar-less place.
But your misery would be entirely self-inflicted – because expecting to find a dollar on the ground everyday is not reasonable.
It’s not appropriate.
And you could remove 100% of that misery yourself, with just a small shift in your expectation.
I’m starting to learn how to free myself of some of those lies, and develop awareness of where my expectations of the world are a little f*cked up.
It’s such a slight shift in how you see the world around you.. but it might just be the real secret to a happier life.