Expectations Met

“When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.”

Stephen Hawking

Let’s say you and a friend decide to go to the movies. You both have similar tastes so it’s usually easy to choose what to see. The one difference (this time) is you have high expectations for what you’re seeing (you’ve watched the trailers, you’ve skimmed the behind the scenes…) but your friend is coming in with low expectations.

Hypothetically, let’s also say we (the observers) know that the movie is getting decent reviews from critics and moviegoers alike.

Can you guess what happens nine out of ten after the movie ends?

Your friend thought it was fun and had a great time. But you were honestly a little disappointed.

What gives? Expectations.

Like a third wheel on a date, we bring our expectations with us.

Good and bad things can become better or worse depending on what expectations we are bringing with us. We don’t just experience an event — we experience an event plus the weight of our hopes (or lack thereof) about it.

Expectations aren’t thoughts, per se. They are more like a type of thought. A thought attached to a potential emotion. When we think something isn’t going to work out for us, we contribute to that negative reality. And when we think something is going to work out for us, we also contribute to that positive reality. However, when we think something is going to work in our favor, and it doesn’t, we feel disappointed or even defeated.

So what can we do?

I don’t think low expectations are quite the answer. Taking on the habit of always dismissing outcomes or avoiding the benefits that come from imagination and dreaming up new possibilities can lead to us walking around with negative and cynical outlooks on life.

High expectations aren’t necessarily bad for us. Unless we let them control our reactions. Then, we’ll just go through life constantly disappointment by everything not meeting our imagined standards.

I think there’s a happy medium between low and high expectations. It’s all about trying and practicing seeing things with an open mind.

An open mind leads to more enjoyable experiences.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #846

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