Featured Motivation & Mindset

How your expectations are ruining your happiness

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Our attitude can make a tremendous impact on our outlook. It changes everything from how we feel about others to how we perceive and interpret what goes on in the world.

Expecting something versus appreciating something is a very distinct change. Rather than feeling as though we are “owed” something by those us, we are grateful for what we already have. Having expectations leaves you focusing on what you could gain from the situation, or what you haven’t received in the past. Expectation doesn’t concentrate on the present. Contrary to this, appreciation focuses completely on the present. Appreciating the things you have and what surrounds you already is a much more productive mindset.

There is a saying that declares, ‘Your attitude determines your altitude,” and it couldn’t be truer. To succeed, a positive attitude is key. Of course, everything isn’t perfect all the time, but being realistic and focusing on the future can accomplish a lot. Focusing on the negative all the time will stifle your success rather than propel you forward.

Also, our attitude makes a tremendous impact on the people that surround us. Many of us have been in the midst of a great conversation when a negative person suddenly joins us. Often, the difference is palpable–and the opposite can happen as well. A regular discussion can suddenly become an animated conversation when a positive, energetic person joins the crowd. Think about the phrase “positive buzz,” and how it originated. While we often think about this “buzz” as only benefiting those who are selling a product, it can undoubtedly apply to other facets of life. Highlighting your qualifications during a job interview, showcasing your personality to a romantic interest, or influencing someone in your life can all be considered “sales.” Consequently, a positive outlook will yield far greater results than focusing on the negative.

Any facet of your life that is being impacted by your preset expectations could benefit by injecting a dose of appreciation in their place. While this may seem like a relatively small change, having expectations is expecting someone else to comply with our desires. While it’s natural to expect some things from others, many of us have a tendency to demand too much.

Having an attitude of appreciation doesn’t mean becoming a pushover, accepting whatever you get from others. Of course, some standards need to be met for a personal or professional relationship to flourish. However, if you’re placing too many demands on others, you are likely causing unnecessary stress for yourself.

There is a common saying that says you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. Likewise, when dealing with a person, showing appreciation for what they’ve accomplished will give them a sense of pride and motivation that will accomplish much more than a lecture about expectations could.

Consider instances where you’ve had a tendency to expect something from the people in your life, rather than expressing gratitude. Think about your friends, family, and professional network. How often are you expecting from those around you, and how frequently do you appreciating what you receive?

Take a mental tally of these situations, or perhaps even write them down. Are there situations where you consistently expect, rather than appreciate? Think about what is driving this type of behavior. Does it stem from your desire to be in charge, or control the situation? How could you reverse this trend? If you want to become more self-aware, consider spending an entire day focusing on “appreciating,” rather than “expecting,” and catch yourself every time your expectations start creeping in.

If you swap your expectation for appreciation, you’ll begin to feel an incredible sense of gratitude. Regardless of our financial or material wealth, having a sense of gratitude can go a long way in making our lives and relationships feel healthy and prosperous. I will end this article with a famous quote by Stephen Hawking:

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”


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