Keys to Happiness #7: Manage Your Expectations

Do you want to be happy? Then learn to manage your expectations about people, circumstances, and your future. This is not to say that you should lower your expectations of the people in your life or curb your enthusiasm about your future, but it does mean that you may want to take a look at the how your expectations are controlling your happiness.

If you get disappointed, upset, frustrated, or angry when things don’t go the way you’d hoped they’d go (and who doesn’t), rather than automatically plunging into sadness or anger and directing your negative emotions toward whoever let you down (or worse, everyone in your vicinity), ask yourself if you could avoid some of that negativity by adjusting your expectations. For example, we could tell the friend who’s always late that in the future we’re going to go ahead and eat dinner while it’s still warm (with a smile, of course). We could tell the kids that if they’re not in the car when it’s time to leave for school, we’re going to leave and let them walk to school (hopefully it’ll only take one time). We could let the person who betrayed a confidence know that he or she has lost our trust, and will have to earn it back. Many of the issues that diminish or destroy our peace can be dealt with by clearly spelling out, directly to the people involved, our expectations. (Notice I said, “directly to the people involved.” I do not suggest speaking to others in the hopes that it’ll eventually get around to the person you hope will change. That doesn’t work, and often makes things worse.)

If you don’t like confrontation, you still have options.

  • You can simply distance yourself emotionally and/or physically from people who consistently let you down.
  • You can put the situation in the context of the rest of the other person’s life. Is the person burdened with overwhelming responsibility? Is the person not feeling well? Is the person struggling with something you have no idea about? Did the person understand what you expected of him or her? Does the person have the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) or EQ (Emotional Quotient) to fully understand and meet your expectations?

If you’re not sure about any of these questions, do yourself a favor and give the person the benefit of your doubt. Let it go. And determine to clearly communicate your expectations in the future.

  • Or you can lower your expectations or eliminate them entirely! Yes, YOU can decide that you’re not going to give anyone the power to steal your peace and happiness. By losing your peace, you’ve given the other person control over your happiness. Don’t give anyone that much control over your attitude, words, behaviors, peace, and joy. This doesn’t mean that you’re condoning bad behavior. It simply means that regardless of what anyone else says or does, you are determined not to allow anyone or any situation to steal your peace and joy. In this life, suffering is optional.

Guard your peace and joy

Check back for more happiness tips.

About the author:  Rhonda Sciortino, author of Successful Survivors, used the coping skills from an abusive childhood to achieve real success which she measures by good relationships, good health, peace, joy, and financial prosperity. Through her writing, speaking, and media appearances, she shares how others can use the obstacles in their lives as stepping stones to their real success. Rhonda can be reached at [email protected]

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