A recent study by British scientists showed that people with lowered expectations actually lead much happier lives. It was found that lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness. The scientists even put their findings into equation form:To translate the above algorithm into layman’s terms, this theory is hogwash, poppycock, balderdash, and any other old-timey saying I can use to say that this is a big steaming pile of horses*#t. Come on, it was discovered by BRITISH scientists. The British always have low expectations. Look at their weather. If there is even a single ray of sunshine for twelve minutes of their day then they consider that day to be a win.
Yes, the research may be there. The studies may be conclusive. And I certainly cannot dispute that algorithm because I am a mathematically-challenged idiot who barely got through tenth-grade geometry. (Proofs. God, how I hate proofs.) But what I do know is this: As happy a life with lowered expectations may actually be, it is an absolutely s*#tty way to live your life.
High expectations are what make good human beings great. You can live a fine life without them, but you cannot live a special life if your expectations are not at least above average. High expectations are what keep you from quitting. It’s what keeps you keeping on. It’s what helps you weather the storm, even when that storm is the sadness you feel from having such high expectations in the first place.
It is hard not to think that lowering expectations is just the nicer version of shooting for mediocrity. It’s an exercise in boredom. It’s also really hard to do. How do you not have high expectations in life? Yes there are methods, habits, and practices that you can use that will help temper your outlook. But while you are hard at work being “realistic,” in the back of your head is still that nagging little thing called optimism. And keeping your natural optimism in check, regardless if it is on the high side, is no way to go through life.
Besides, lowering expectations never really works. If you have low expectations and the results are exactly as you expected, are you really that happy? If you ask a hot girl out on a date and she says “no,” do you feel fine with that because you didn’t think she’d say yes anyway? No! You are still bummed the hell out. Expectations are expectations — it doesn’t matter if they are high or low. Either way you are still disappointed regardless of the level of expectation. The only way you could be happy with the outcome (other than it being what you wanted) is to have absolutely zero expectations, which is near impossible if you have a pulse and care about anything in life.
Another way to look at it is this; replace the word “expectations” with “hope.” How is “lowering your hope” a good thing? Don’t we always aspire to have high hope? Sure, there are people who love to throw out that old gem, “Don’t get your hopes up.” But we hate those people. No one ever likes hearing that said to them. You never go, “Huh. Sage advice. I will commence the dashing of my hopes posthaste. Many thanks.” Au contraire, you want to get your hopes up even higher now, followed by taint-kicking the person who said those five miserable words to you.
Lowered expectations may be good in theory – again, I suck at math so I still can’t be sure – but in the long run it feels like settling. And very few successful people in life got successful by settling and being realistic. I am pretty sure the Wright Brothers didn’t lower their expectations about inventing the airplane. If they had, we wouldn’t be able to fly at 37,000 feet and bitch about how we have no legroom.