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Expectations vs Reality – Nerdful Mind #17

May 10, 2020 by Simon Mannes

Most negative feelings exist because our expectations do not match reality. Whether you planned a day at the beach only to find it raining the entire day, or a family member personally attacks you in a discussion.

What you feel is that tension between how things are and how you want them to be. This is great news. It means that when you learn to let go and be in the present moment, you can reduce your own suffering.

“Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different than they are.” - Allan Lokos

The way out of this is awareness:

  • When you have negative feelings like stress, anger, or anxiety, ask yourself what your expectations are.
  • Examine these expectations. Are they realistic? Where did they come from?
  • If your expectations were realistic, make a plan on how to achieve them next time.
  • Finally, let go of your expectations and return to the present moment.

This helps you to get your expectations right:

  • Always assume other people did their best.
  • You did what was possible for yourself.
  • Don’t expect anything from others when you did not communicate it clearly. And even then: let go of your expectations.
  • You don’t control what other people do. Only how you respond.
“Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happen the way it happens: then you will be happy.” – Epictetus

Note: this does not mean to accept it when other people attack you. Always put your own (emotional) safety first. Try to stay calm and empathetic. It is totally okay to leave when the other person doesn’t calm down or if you don’t feel safe.

Reading Recommendations

Equation to predict happiness | UCL News - UCL – University College London

The happiness of over 18,000 people worldwide has been predicted by a mathematical equation developed by researchers at UCL, with results showing that moment-to-moment happiness reflects not just how well things are going, but whether things are going better than expected.

How Expectations Undermine Our Relationships and Happiness By Jen Picicci

The only way to find peace is to drop your expectations of others, let go of what you think they should or shouldn’t do, and create your own happiness.

How to manage expectations and prevent ad-hoc tasks derailing a software project

When delivering a software project, you’ll need to balance short-term priorities with the long-term goal of fulfilling a product vision

Weekly Mindfulness Practice

I have a simple, 3-minute breathing exercise for you:

The first minute, answer the question “how am I doing right now?” Focus on your feelings, thoughts and sensations and name them.

The second minute, keep awareness of your breath.

The third minute, expand your attention outwards from the breath to. How does your breath affect the rest of your body?

At the end, smile and thank yourself for taking the time to do this exercise.

End note

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Have a great week


PS: If you found an article you think others might like and that fits this newsletter, I’d love it if you write me an email.