Expectations (part 2)

With the knowledge that our expectations affect our feelings, what can we do to produce more positive feelings?

A couple weeks ago, I was texting a friend and had thought she would call me later in the evening. Although we didn’t explicitly say this arrangement, I had still thought and expected her to call. In the evening, I heard my phone ring as I was taking a shower. I was very excited that my friend called. After finishing my shower, I picked up my phone to call my friend back but the caller display made me stop… I realized the call was actually from my mom! My excitement changed into disappointment almost immediately because my expectation and belief on the truthfulness of my expectations were suddenly proved to be wrong. Had I instead not expected a call (since we didn’t actually agree upon it), I would surely not had felt disappointed. This leads to my guideline for producing happy feelings:

Expect events when you are confident that they will happen (eg, when you directly produce the outcome)

There are exceptions to this guideline (after all, a guideline is a general rule of thumb that usually applies but doesn’t apply in every situation) but applying it ensures we limit the number of unreliable or blind expectations and that we think critically about our beliefs before committing to expect certain outcomes. In addition, by only expecting events that we are confident will happen, we appreciate other outcomes more because we had less expectations of them than before.

Some people choose inaccurate information over uncertainty and by extension, would rather expect a certain outcome even when there are few reasons for that outcome to be true. I used to think this way but after a couple heartbreaking personal experiences, I decided to accept uncertainty and expect outcomes only when I have reason to believe they will happen because they were more practical and emotionally safer than the alternative.


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