“Happiness is reality minus expectations”
I heard this quote in a recent podcast from Adam Grant, though I believe it’s attributed to Tom Magliozzi, former co-host of the popular “Car Talk” radio show on NPR.
As I thought about it, it’s kind of a tricky thing. I wrote earlier this year about setting proper expectations, and it aligns nicely with that. If we know a particular restaurant is going to be slow, and we keep that expectation in mind going in, our happiness with the experience rises quite a lot.
On the flip side, if you always keep very low expectations it can lead to a rather unfulfilling life. Chasing dreams can lead to wonderful places, even if they sometimes fall short.
Ultimately, your expectations really make a big difference in how you see life. There have been studies that show that in the Olympic Games, bronze medal winners are generally happier with their result than silver medal winners. Silver medal winners almost won gold, but fell short. On the other hand, bronze medal winners almost got nothing at all, but ended up on the medal stand.
Trying to find happiness in more situations is a good way to go through life, and proper expectations will greatly increase your chances of staying happy.