The Key to Happiness

Have you ever started reading a book that a good friend recommended, a book they were completely ga-ga over, then realized by page 50 that you *hated* the book? Or have you ever been so excited to see a movie, the one that you’ve been waiting for over a year to see, that after you see it you desperately wish you could get those two hours back because it was one of the worst things you had ever seen?

We’ve all been in these situations, haven’t we? So how do we possibly prevent them from happening?


Lower your expectations.


About two years ago, I wrote a blog post about having high expectations and wanting everything to be wonderful and Disney-like.  I even mentioned a vacation I was about to go on, hoping it would be lovely weather–which it wasn’t. It was in Florida and it rained or was cloudy nearly every day. I was pretty pissed, and honestly, foolish! It may be the Sunshine State, but it doesn’t mean it’s sunny every single day (especially when I roll into town!). If I had only just kept my wants to a minimum–want to be away for a week, want to rest, want to not work. That’s it. If I had lowered my expectations: if I just expected my son and husband to argue, if I expected my husband to not want to do anything, if I expected the sun to not show its face again–then I would have been very happy.

People always say, “If you expect the worst to happen, then it probably will.” Well you know what? When I expect the worst, do you know how happy I am when something good happens?


For example, I recently facilitated a book discussion at my library. We all read books by a not well-known Maine author. Admittedly, when I’m reading a Maine author I know little about, I immediately think it’s going to be bad. You might not think that’s a good thing to do, but when you’ve read a lot of bad literature it comes with the territory. So, I had very low expectations for this author. But you know what? The book wasn’t bad! It wasn’t great but it wasn’t horrible. I actually enjoyed reading it. BUT, if I went into it thinking,”This is going to be such a great novel!”, I never would have made it past page 30.

The only problem with my new way of thinking, is that I can’t seem to lower my expectations when it comes to people. And this is when I should lower them to subterranean levels. I can’t believe how much I’m constantly disappointed by human beings. But I shouldn’t be. No one is perfect, and although I am completely aware of that fact, I still wish it wasn’t true.

But really no one has to be perfect, either. I just want them to do what I know they can, to live up to their potential. Hell, I’d be happy if people would stop being assholes.

But see? Right there. I need to lower my expectations and realize that there will always be jerks in the world. There will always be people hating people for stupid reasons. Which is why someday, instead of aliens arriving to destroy the human race like in Avengers, we humans will just destroy ourselves and the planet we live on. Apparently there are no super heroes or meta humans or any other cool beings out there to save us from ourselves.

And doesn’t that suck?

Yet if we don’t destroy ourselves, I’ll be so happy and surprised because I thought we were doomed. And if we do self-combust like I think we will?

Well…I’ll be happy then, too, because I was right.




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