Friday, December 28, 2018

Your Unhappiness is Due to Your Expectations

Your unhappiness is due to your expectations

I was having a meal with a friend and there were a couple kids lightly horsing around at the table next to use. Which brought us to a conversation.

"Do you think kids being loud at restaurants is annoying?"

I reply "no it doesn't really bother me, kids are kids and I'm sure the parents are trying their best to quiet their crying baby"

He replies "yea I'm not annoyed either, but I know some people who would be so irritated"

So I think "hmm well it depends, if you were on a date with your wife and the table next to you had a screaming baby then you would be annoyed because it would ruin the experience"

"Oh right" he agrees in that case it makes sense. Maybe at a nice restaurant it'd be different, but at a family it would be expected.

And that conversation triggered a memory of what Tony Robbins had said: we are unhappy when our expectations do not match reality.

If we expect our body to be in good shape but we have a beer gut then we are sad. But maybe don't expect to have low body fat because we love food and "want to live a little" and instead feel lucky to have been promoted at work. Then we are ecstatic.

In our restaurant discussion, the reason we are unhappy on our date at the nice restaurant with the screaming baby is because we didn't expect that. At the family restaurant we would have expected a noise and so our expectations would match reality.

So if we go with the idea that happiness is based off our expectations, we have 2 ways of being happy: either raise reality or lower expectations.

Raising reality is certainly possible in many cases. If you lose those 15 pounds you will be happy with your body again.

But for many cases, changing reality is the only way to go because our version of reality might be false. Think about how many young men and women are depressed because they see their friend's highlight reals on Instagram and Facebook and think that that is the norm.

But once you know the formula for happiness, then you can put together a plan to increase it.

For myself, being in the bay area, I always felt like I was "behind" as peers of mine got ever nicer cars and prestigious job titles. Another way I shifted my reality was through travel; stepping out of the bubble and realizing again how much I have to be thankful for. I continue to gratitude journal each day to keep that reality in check.