Set your expectations low to be happy - GulfToday

Set your expectations low to be happy

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.


Schoolchildren in Thimphu, Bhutan. Reuters

Apparently getting to the stage you’re happy is not easy and requires a fair amount of mental juggling. It’s about juggling facts, figures and our state of mind, that is to say, our existing state of mind. It’s also about considering what your expectations are.

According to experts, the best way to be really happy is to lower your expectations but to not so low that it makes you miserable.

Being happy is a very complicated thing. What makes one person happy doesn’t necessarily make another happy too. Moreover, how low is too low? One person’s low is likely to be higher or lower than another’s depending upon their individual socioeconomic circumstances. It’s also difficult for people to be realistic about their expectations without sounding either overly optimistic (in other words, having too high an expectation that is not realistic) or downright pessimistic (in other words, having too low and expectation that is also not realistic).

Let’s take job hunting, for example, and let’s imagine it’s the year 2001 when jobs were aplenty. Let’s say that you’re a qualified accountant looking for work and your previous work experience has been that of an assistant account and now you’re looking for an Account Manager’s role. Let’s say that you’ve started sending out your CV. At the time you send out your application you will have either of two mindsets. You’ll either hope you’ll get a very high salary or a CFO role or they’ll offer you an Office Boy’s job. This is known as setting your expectations either so high or so low so that neither is realistic and will, therefore, make you miserable just thinking about it.

So what might be the lower expectation that is realistic and likely to make your happy? Thinking that you will be offered another Assistant Manager’s role or maybe a Junior Accountant will set your expectations at the right level so that whatever you are subsequently offered will make you happy because that is what your expected. On the other hand, if your expectation was firmly fixed on a CFO role, something that is highly optimistic and thus unrealistic, you’ll be very disappointed with any role you are offered and will, therefore, be miserable in that role.

That being said, someone who is not very educated, is likely to have the lowest expectation in life and, therefore, is likely to be content just being able to make an honest living. If he were to get anything better than his lowest expectation, it’s likely to come as a welcome surprise to him and it will be something for which he will be most grateful.

Just as expectations differ from one person to the next, so does the meaning of happiness. What makes one person happy may not necessarily make someone else happy because everyone’s idea of happiness is different. But expectations aside, one thing is for sure; I think most people will agree that there are certain common factors in our lives that make everyone happy. These include things like having enough money to live without worrying about having to worry about when it will come or not. Being in good health, having a happy family life and good friends is also an important factor. Having a great job or being able to do what you enjoy and being grateful for what you have been give rather than lamenting about the things you wish you had is another.

But the problem is that, sometimes no amount of money is enough and not having more makes people miserable. Jobs come and go as do good friends, especially in the UAE where people are like fleeting winds. They come for a few years (maybe 2 to 3 maximum) and then they go back to their home countries or move to North American or Australia. It’s hard to make good friends in some countries and when you do you have to be prepared for them to move on at some stage. It’s happened to me repeatedly. They moved to America, Australia and Canada.

The biggest and most important cause of happiness should, therefore, be your good health because when you have good health, everything else is achievable.

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