Well What Did You Expect?

How many times have you heard that question?

Usually it is after a pretty disappointing situation. Where you expected something better than what happened.

I got hit with the idea for this article when I was driving in my car pondering the one two punch I received from Penelope over at The Brazen Careerist and JD over at Get Rich Slowly.

Penelope was talking about how happiness is often dependent on our level of self-discipline. How we need to find easy “entry points” to get back in the zone. And how more control over our lives brings us an increased level of happiness.

JD started off with a book review and ended with some insightful thoughts of his own. He stated that he always thought having more stuff would make him happier. However, over time he found out that he could actually be happier with less.

In my life, I have always been an “efficient” person. I always loved finding ways to do more with less. My unhappiness came about because I loved to be in control, and was always sad when things didn’t go my way.

I was and am still competitive. I like to win. No, I really like to win! In fact, I expect to win. And more often than not I do.

This may seem prideful, and it is to a certain degree, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I go after things that I want more than most people.

In other “positive psychology” studies it has been mentioned that happiness is mostly a mindset, and has little to do with external things. In fact, they are starting to make the argument that we have a base line level of happiness that is hard to change at all. It may fluctuate up and down based on events and circumstances, but it always returns to a certain level.

Back to my unhappiness about not being in control…

Some things you have control of in this life, and the main thing you have control of is you. You can’t control people, you can’t really control nature, and you can’t control the future. You can act upon all those things, but you can’t always control things with absolute certainty.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me unhappy sometimes. I want to be in control. I want to make things go my way. Alas, they certainly don’t always go my way…

Expect less, achieve more?

I think there is something to be said for not expecting to win, but to try anyhow and see what happens. If you know you are doing your best, how much does the outcome matter? How much can it matter? You did your best right?

The same goes for your expectations of other people. Sure, expect them to do their best. If they fail, you can be their encourager for next time. If they win, you can say you knew they had it in them all along. Just don’t hold unreasonable expectations of people. Don’t expect yourself or others to win all the time. And certainly don’t expect them to lose…

Just expect the best in everyone, including yourself. I think that is the real key that will help us all be happier people in the long run!

9 thoughts on “Well What Did You Expect?”

  1. Jeremy,

    I always try to expect the best from people. Sometimes they disappoint but usually not. Some of it may have to do with who it is we attract into our lives. I think if we are naturally positive then those are the kind of folks we generally attract and therefore the percentage of disappointments go down.

    Personally, I am *so* not a control person. I can lead, I can follow, I can get out of the way and I’m happy in all of those situations. I know I’m fortunate in that regard.

    .-= Tumblemoose´s last blog ..Let’s help a friend build momentum =-.

    1. I love the long replies guys!

      @ George – Thank you again for your help. It really is refreshing to see some of our regulars coming to visit my site! And yes you are fortunate in that regard. I am learning to be more like that as time goes on…

      @ Barbara – Love seeing you around. I still love your community of bloggers and I am glad you are still part of the Insight Writer community. I love your thoughts on acceptance and being optimistic and I share your thoughts about how we expect more from children. I think adults would be a lot happier with kids if they were more accepting of the fact that they are kids! haha.

      @ Milli – Thanks for swinging by and for your thoughtful comment. And glad I could help you with a little reminder. And I agree, its good to hang out with other optimistic enthausiastic people. 😉


  2. Hi Jeremy,

    I remember reading a book years ago about expectations we put on others. The author suggested we don’t put ANT expectations on others and/or how they perform or what they do. That way, we’re not setting ourselves up for disappointment. I took that as letting others “just be”. As I’ve experimented with that over time, I have found it helps me to accept others for who they truly are.

    Although this can work good with friends and acquaintances, it’s difficult to practice with our children. For some reason, we seem to “expect” more from them. Hmmmm.

    For me, happiness seems more of state of mind. Knowing how powerful our thoughts are and how we can choose what we think about, I tend to be more optimistic, thus feel happy most of the time.
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..How To Keep Your Blog Alive When Life Calls =-.

  3. Great post, Jeremy!

    I like to get reminders on this issue as I process it in my own life. Your writing on this subject has some extra oomph because you shared about the issue from your own bag of issues (as opposed to a self-help book that might not be as personal).

    Being a person who holds high standards on herself, I have definitely tended to do that too in regards to other people. And this has caused me mucho stress and disappointment. My #1 cure for that has been to learn to have more fun–in life and in my writing career.

    I’m also with Tumblemoose on who you hang out with. These days I surround myself with enthusiastic people: that way we swim in a big pool of enthusiasm and positive mutual support (with the occasional stumble, headache or complaint, but we help one another through it).

    Tumblemoose is a case in point. I found your blog because George is a generous, fun writer who loves to help others and he recommended your blog. I’m happy I’ve learned to have such good taste in friends. :~)

    Glad to be here! ~ Milli
    .-= milliverstravels´s last blog ..Kissing the Lucky Frog =-.

  4. I found you from George’s recommendation, and have subscribed via RSS to return.

    We don’t progress without striving to “win”, but we have to learn to strive for the right goals. I think everyone should refer to the Serenity Prayer when we are evaluating our goals: God, give me the patience to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living our lives is how we learn to tell the difference. Having wise and supportive friends to discuss it with makes it easier to see beyond our personal blind spots.

  5. I always try to expect the worse, but be prepared to the best. It is not easy and it is not a method for anyone. But it works for me. When something serious is becoming visible on the horizon I think of the worse thing that could happen, but to be prepared for anything else. In most cases the best thing does not happen, as far as the worse. And I’m satisfied because I was expecting something much worse than happen. With this scenario I’m almost always glad of the current situation and the events happening around.

  6. Humm that was alot to take in this one article. I think there is nothing wrong with having a winning attitude, I mean if you are not out there to do your best, and win, what are your intentions/goals? Sometimes though you know that you are not the best at something, so you humble yourself down to a lower goal to attain, but still trying hard at the same time, at least that’s what I do.

    Till then,


  7. Great article about expectations. Managing your expectations can certainly change your level of happiness. One needs to learn to trust others and themselves, which not getting too disappointed about failure.

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