Expectations…

benjamin_mugExpectation: (noun) confident belief or strong hope that a particular event will happen. In my conversations with people lately the topic of expectations has been coming up more and more often, usually presenting itself one way or another in the form of frustration.

An expectation, which is a belief that is centered on the future, may or may not be realistic. In the case of uncertainty, expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen. A less advantageous result gives rise to disappointment. If something happens that is not at all expected it is a surprise.

Richard Lazarus asserts that people become accustomed to positive or negative life experiences which lead to favorable or unfavorable expectations with regard to present and near-future circumstances. Lazarus notes the widely accepted, philosophical principle that “happiness depends on the background psychological status of the person”. That is, the overall pattern of expectations and mood cannot be well predicted without reference to one’s expectations.

Also with regard to happiness or unhappiness, Lazarus notes that “people whose objective conditions of life are those of hardship and deprivation often make a positive assessment of their well-being,” while “people who are objectively well off often make a negative assessment of their well-being.” Lazarus argues that “the most sensible explanation of this apparent paradox is that people develop favorable or unfavorable expectations that guide such assessments.

I find the varied range of these expectations to be really interesting, with the common thread being projected expectation. Each case however, comes to the same basic point, the parties involved had expectations the other party was not living up to, expressed or otherwise.

Can it be that we are no longer able to communicate what we truly want from ourselves and others? Is it possible that when others make a request from us it just goes in one ear and out the other? That we are giving them Lip Service and that we are unwilling to fulfill the request? Married couples are a perfect example of this. Are we unwilling or unable to express that we won’t do what is being asked of us, thus misleading the person who is making the request so they will have or create unreasonable expectations?

Accountability or lack of it seems to go hand in hand with expectations. All you have to do is look to our government for a prime example of a lack of accountability. It appears we have become a nation of finger pointers. As individuals, we need to step up to the plate, take a deep breath and say I am responsible for where I am right now. If you are responsible for others, be accountable. Let them know what they can or cannot expect from you. Most of all, challenge yourself to have high expectations and do the same with the people in your life.

Henry Ford said if you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right. I have a saying, what you focus on, you bring life to.

While researching this topic I read several quotes saying if you have low expectations you will never be disappointed. Sounds to me like racing just to finish the event. What’s the point?

Benjamin