Expectation Is the Death of Happiness

“Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”


I’ve always enjoyed that quote. It is attributed to, Ol’ Honest Abe. Reality is no one knows for sure if he said. I say, whoever said it was incredibly astute.

There is a problem that we all face and that is reality v. expectation. The happiest people that I know of live in the moment. They tend to take what is and enjoy it as such. I often look at those people with a not too small amount of jealousy. The truth is I am a person who is cursed by forward thought. I want to be moving in a direction that is accomplishing a goal I have set.

Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. The problem that comes in is when I set those goals, they come with expectations.

Think of it like when going to watch a movie. If you go into that movie expecting certain things and they don’t happen or happen in a way you didn’t hope then you are almost guaranteed to have less of an enjoyable experience. Take another movie, something maybe you don’t care as much about or didn’t come to with preconceived ideas about, I can say with some amount of surety that you will enjoy it much more and not be as hard on the outcome.

Part of being a planner is to enact goals that have certain outcomes. Again, not a problem, the issue comes in when those expectations are not realized. Disappointment follows with a swift kick and leaves us feeling like failures.

So, what is the point of all of this? Am I asking you to not make goals? To not expect things?

No not at all.

There was a phrase I heard early in life and wish I had taken closer to heart. Manage your expectations. Give yourself options. Understand the reality of your situation. Let your goals have room to breath by understanding there are many ways to succeed and everything is a learning process if allowed to be.

We are the only ones responsible for how we react to the things around us. Learn to let yourself be happy in the things you wish to accomplish. Enjoy the process, enjoy the journey, time moves too quickly for regrets and is gone to swiftly to be occupied by worry.

At a certain point we as people have to find the love of doing, the love of living. We can’t just pursue the outcome. We need to take each step for what it is. Maybe it is something we needed to learn. Maybe it is just the next step before moving forward. Maybe it is a small victory that we ignore because it wasn’t a larger version of itself.

Maybe—it is just a bad day.

Whatever it is, I ask you, dear reader, to manage your expectations.



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