When Happiness Becomes A Trap
On Saturday, I was reminded of something I already know. Every now and then everyone needs a reminder: Expectations lead to unhappiness.
I’m part of a group, TWINC (Traveling Women in Need of Cocktails), that meets up every month. We do anything from going to restaurants to sports events to wine tastings. Saturday we were going to Del Frisco’s, a very nice restaurant, for Restaurant Week. I always have fun at our events, and this one is one of my favorites – this was our third year going to Del Frisco’s.
However, this Saturday I wasn’t feeling well. I was considering skipping dinner, because I was more than a little cranky. I was snappy. I thought that if I went, I wouldn’t have fun, and that my cranky mood might ruin the fun for my friends. But I really wanted to go, and even had a new outfit. I decided to suck it up and go. My plan was to leave early if I found myself getting snappy, because I didn’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.
After getting dressed and doing my hair and make-up, I did start feeling a bit better. Seeing my friends diminished my crankiness, even though I still wasn’t feeling my best. It’s true that happiness can be contagious – and the VIP Martini probably helped, too 🙂
After an evening of chatting, laughing and smiling, I ended up leaving at 11 pm with the group. I was surprised I had such a good time, and don’t think I snapped at anyone beyond my normal wit.
Expectations, Happiness, Surprises
This is one of those times that my expectation of being cranky didn’t happen. I had a better time than I expected, which was a happy surprise. A recent study confirmed that a Pleasant Surprise Beats the Sure Thing. The only way we can be pleasantly surprised is to get rid of our expectations.
On a side note, I’m not saying that we can’t or shouldn’t expect others to treat us with respect. In this case I’m referring to our expectations of how something we are planning to do will make us feel. We also can’t expect other people to make us happy – that’s not their job, and we can’t make others happy, either.
Sometimes our expectations get skewed because we try to recreate a past happy experience. We only live any moment once, so no two experiences are ever going to be the same.
For example, if we went to a new restaurant and had a great experience, we can’t repeat that exact experience even at the same restaurant. The next time we go it might just be an OK experience. There are many tiny things that make up a restaurant experience – our mood, the people we’re with, the food, and the wait person to name a few. All of these things will never be the exact same each time we go somewhere. If they were, wouldn’t it be boring or monotonous like the movie Groundhog Day? But when we try something for the first time we may have a hope of happiness, but not an expectation of it. When our expectations are low, we’re not trapped by them, so the door to being surprised is wide open.
If you want more happiness, lower your expectations. Try to be childlike, and approach each moment for the wondrous one of a kind moment it is. Remember, you only experience each moment once. The fewer expectations we have, the more surprises we’ll also have, which will increase our happiness.