Great Expectations: Why Having Things 'In Mind' Ensures Unhappiness

A story we never seem to double check restricts our lives. Most people don’t like for their beliefs or interests to be challenged. So, in order to be void of embarrassment or shame, people go along with what others think.

By participating in the opinions of the masses, people expect approval and safety from others by remaining passive.

Eventually, we expect our time will come or good things come to those who wait. What I am trying to say is that by having expectations, we allow ourselves to become mentally lazy.

We need to rid ourselves of expectations and understand that life, especially freedom and happiness, are not given — they are earned.

You might be thinking, “It’s easier said than done to get rid of expectations,” and you’d be right. See, we expect behaviors and attitudes from others based on our own ideas of ourselves.

For example, when someone has a bad day, we expect others to know we're mad without having to say anything about it. You shouldn't have to say a word about this to your true friends; they should just know.

I believe Tony Robbins stated it best:

"Trade your expectations for appreciations and the world changes instantly."

Expectations lead only to inner tribulation and turmoil. By definition, an expectation is a belief that something will happen in the future.

When what we expect doesn't turn out as we planned, we become disappointed. Expectations are equivalent to searching while appreciations are equivalent to finding.

When we search for something, we start to think narrow-mindedly and become unable to take part in what’s going on around us because we are only concerned with that one particular thing.

Appreciations, on the other hand, are similar to finding money in a jean-pocket; you didn't expect it to be there, but you were grateful that it was.

Like gratitude, appreciation brings us more happiness and allows us to be more aware of our surroundings. By appreciating situations, we are no longer oblivious to what's right under our noses.

Expectations will always leave us disappointed because things generally aren't what we think they are.

Appreciations always lead to a sense of fulfillment because we are grateful for the things that do happen rather than focused on the things that didn't.

Passivity and patience are not the same thing. Passivity is the confused result of deciding between waiting and tolerance. This confusion drives us to continually wait for something that may never happen.

In believing that things will just happen, we become more and more passive. Typical examples of this are when people make excuses, like "I’m not in the mood" or "I’m just too tired."

Our expectations lead us to take things for granted because we assume they will always be there. We believe that the more we think we can accomplish, the more fulfilled we will feel. You will never find fulfillment in meaninglessly accomplishing tasks.

Also, ironically, whether or not you actually meet your expectations, you could still be unhappy by taking the guaranteed route.

Here’s the bottom line: You have two choices. You can either do things the easy way or the right way. You will rarely be in the mood, so stop assuming things will get better later and make a decision.

I, too, am guilty of having expectations and being passive. It’s mentally much easier to expect than it is to actually do. I believe this is because we have two selves: Our short-term self and our long-term self.

Expectations and passivity help us satisfy our short-term selves because it allows us to relax and push off responsibilities for later.

This is why passivity is not beneficial; if you keep on satisfying your short-term self, you’re not allowing your long-term self enough time and maturity to develop and grow.