Happiness from Lowering Your Expectations

February 13, 2018 - 4 minutes read

I created an equation years ago: Happiness equals expectations minus perception of reality.

This means that if you are expecting a bonus of $100.00 and receive only $50.00, you will be disappointed.  If you expect a bonus of $25.00, however, and receive $45.00, then you will be pleased even though the absolute amount of the bonus is $5.00 less.

So, for increased happiness, my advice to you is don’t expect more than you think you will receive.

At the Winter Olympics Red Gerard, 17 years old, was the first gold medal winner for the United States.  Did he expect to win the gold medal?  In his own words:

“I’m absolutely just mind-blown. I can’t believe everything worked out, and honestly I don’t think I’ve really had time to let it set in yet. I’m just so happy I got to land a run, and just to end up on the podium is awesome.”

He didn’t even talk about winning the gold medal.  For him, just ending up on the podium was awesome.

On to my own athletic saga:  Alan and the Pogo Stick.

Originally I thought I would buy the pogo stick and accessories as a fun way to get some exercise. Upon delivery, I adjusted that plan, but still intended to take some jumps on it while Sprite took a few photos or a video, and then I would be finished.  I didn’t expect a gold medal.  I didn’t even expect to stand on a podium.  I only expected to accomplish my goal of jumping on the pogo stick, at least once. If you have been following my blog for the past few weeks you may have expected the same thing.

It hasn’t been that easy.  First of all, it is not a kid’s pogo stick.  It has a pressurized air chamber.  When my young techie friend Kevin pumped air into the pogo stick he jumped on for a test ride and ended up smashed against the corner of his desk.  I was not encouraged.  In fact, I was scared.

In my office, with Kevin holding on for balance, I tried to step onto my pogo stick and try it out.  That was easier said than done.  I think I have pretty good balance.  My pogo stick disagrees.  It tried to tip me over.  Pogo stick 1, Alan 0.

Kevin suggested that I try it out on a grass field.  “Better to fall on grass than on concrete.”  He was right.  But I was not encouraged.  In fact, I was discouraged.

I am not eager to go to the park to fall on the ground.  But it’s now or never time.  This coming week I will either take a few jumps on it, or donate the darned thing to the Olympic Committee for Pogo Sticking.  Or to Red Gerard.  I’ll bet he would be leaping ten feet into the air within a few minutes.  But I’m sixty years older than he is, and anyway he’s going to be too busy signing autographs for the next several years.

I’m sorry about not meeting your expectations.  Or mine.  Give me just one more week.  Please.  And I’ve decided not to buy a big dog with an enormous appetite.

Stay tuned.  Just don’t expect too much.



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