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Raising Happiness by Lowering Expectations

bikeOver the course of a lifetime, it can be rewarding and motivating to dream big.  But day to day, it might be better to expect little and be pleasantly surprised.  Here are some ideas of how to scale back expectations in order to increase happiness.1)  Consider (and re-consider) whether your expectations are realistic.

I have a client who says, “Is it too much to ask that my kids eat their dinners without complaining?”  My answer is, “Yes, if they’re never meeting that standard.”

We all have ideals of how we’d like things to go.  But if our reality consistently fails to live up to that, and yet we keep hoping every (meal)time for it to happen, then we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and frustration.

2)  Notice what is.

The old adage about wanting what you already have is pretty good advice.  But sometimes we fail to notice what’s already working because our eyes are fixed on another prize.

3)  Maximize small moments.

Once you’ve noticed the good, try to maximize it.  That means that if your kids are at their best in a certain setting, stay there longer rather than rushing off to your next plan.  Which leads me to…

4)  Don’t overschedule your life, especially when you have kids.

It limits your flexibility, and creates more transitions, which often means more stress for you and your children.  Also, by lingering, you teach your children how to enjoy a moment rather than always hoping for the next bigger and better thing.

5)  Give yourself (and those around you) a break when expectations aren’t met.

When things go wrong, practice acceptance, and possibly reflect later on how you could do it better next time.  Practicing compassion–toward yourself and others–lowers stress and leaves more space for happiness.

Father and son image available from Shutterstock.

Raising Happiness by Lowering Expectations


Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda (http://hollybrownmft.com/ ). She is also a novelist (http://hollybrownbooks.com/). Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."


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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2014). Raising Happiness by Lowering Expectations. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 15, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/bonding-time/2014/02/raising-happiness-by-lowering-expectations/

 

Last updated: 3 Feb 2014
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