(DailyVibe) – Having high expectations can sometimes lead to a stronger sense of disappointment. Researchers have found that lower expectations can actually be correlated with greater happiness and more compassion for others. The question becomes–
How do we live life with fewer expectations?
Question Your Expectations
If we’re learning something new, do we expect to master it quickly? If so, we may end up being disappointed when we aren’t virtuosos of the brand new instrument we are learning or experts at a new language we just attempted. Managing our expectations to make them more realistic will keep us from setting ourselves up for disappointment with a grandiose idea of the experience.
Make Room for Imperfections
Just as we are not perfect, neither are other people. If we expect people in our lives to never make mistakes and to always behave perfectly, we are holding them to standards that even we cannot meet ourselves. Not only is this unrealistic (see the last point), but it also doesn’t allow a lot of room for compassion or forgiveness. To maintain healthy relationships, we need to make sure that we aren’t expecting from others behavior that would be impossible for anyone to maintain.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we should lower our standards in relationships–just our expectations of other people when it comes to normal human behavior. This applies to friendships and working relationships as well. If we expect people to always remember the things that are important to us and never forget or to always be on time, we may be operating in extremes and forgetting that everyone runs late or forgets from time to time.
Be Open to the Moment
If we have fixed ideas about what should happen or how things should be, we could end up being disappointed. When we take a fresh outlook into new experiences, we allow ourselves to experience the mindfulness of the present moment, and we welcome the experience of letting life surprise us. What’s interesting about this technique is that when we look for good things, we are more likely to find them. When we expect to see something negative, we’ll be more likely to see that, too.
As humans we have a natural negativity bias where we’re more likely to notice negative things, but when we cultivate optimism and look for the good in other people and in the world around us, we actually create a confirmation bias where we are more likely to find it.
When we adjust our expectations to reality, make room for imperfections, and practice mindfulness, we can learn to live with fewer expectations, which can lead to greater feelings of contentment.
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