Expectations are things that we imagine, predict or assume will happen. They tend to influence a broad range of outcomes — namely our stress levels!
As such, identifying, setting, managing and controlling expectations can improve our thinking, and approach to life.
Put another way, expectations are typically premeditated resentments. Why?
First, merely expecting something to happen will not make it happen.
Second, we have a natural tendency to pin our hopes for happiness on fulfilled expectations.
The stress caused is afflicting us more these days than ever because our expectations keep rising, thanks in part to exponential improvements in our technology.
So what can you do about the stress and frustration that comes from unmet expectations? You have two choices: Either change the reality around you or change your expectations.
In my experience, trying to change reality isn’t usually a stress reliever, it’s a stress creator.
Which leaves us with what I’ve come to believe is the best strategy for reducing stress: Change your expectations.
If changing your expectations proves too hard, your next best move is to get some perspective.
Imagine a scale from 1-10 with 10 being the worst reality you can imagine. Like living in a war zone or being in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Maybe 9 is a serious illness that most probably will result in death. Perhaps 8 is something that will forever alter your life, like going to jail or an accident that puts you in a wheelchair. Let’s say 7 is something that temporarily alters your life like losing your job or having to move out of a home you can no longer afford.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Almost everything we freak out about is somewhere in the 1-2 range of dashed expectations. In other words, our moods and our stress levels are determined by events that actually matter remarkably little.
That’s not always easy. A number of small stressors add up to a lot of stress and it’s natural to be stressed by things that don’t really matter in the whole scheme of things. I do it all the time.
But we can substantially reduce our stress by recognising that in many situations, we have become perfectionists in realms where perfection isn’t necessary, realistic, or even useful.
For the animal to be happy it is enough that this moment be enjoyable. But man is hardly satisfied with this at all. He is much more concerned to have enjoyable memories and expectations — especially the latter. With these assured, he can put up wit an extremely miserable present. Without this assurance, he can be extremely miserable in the midst of immediate physical pleasure.Alan Watts — The Wisdom of Insecurity
This was the seventh post in my latest challenge to write daily. I’m working on developing my communication skills, and making my writing more personable, and enjoyable for anyone who takes the time to read. If you made it to the end, thank you for spending the time!8