Researchers make the case for lowering your expectations: “It may be the key to happiness”

Monday, March 05, 2018 by

Have you ever been worried about doing well on a particular task, only to fail to meet your own expectations, leading you to feel major disappointment? It’s something that happens to many people every single day. Whether it’s at work, at school, or just with social interactions in general, people often fail to meet their own targets as far as their expectations are concerned.

There have been many studies going over the fact that personal expectations play a huge role in how individuals feel about themselves and their work. Now a new report highlights the fact that it is lowered expectations, not higher ones, that can better help people achieve their best possible results.

According to a piece on titled, “The Case for Lowering Your Expectations,” the less pressure and slightly more relaxed attitude that comes with lower expectations could be “the key to happiness and sustainable performance.” The author points to the case of Amelia Boone, an active athlete that participates in ultra-marathons and other sporting activities, who discovered that it’s possible to feel good about seemingly sub-par performance levels simply by not subjecting to herself to the ridiculous demands of high expectations.

According to Boone, it became apparent to hear that not succumbing to the pressure of high expectations is what helped her deal with reduced performance levels due to recent personal setbacks. “[I realized] I could set aside my ego, toe the start line feeling less than confident, and accept what my current limitations were,” she explained. “I could accept that I’m rusty, accept that I’m scared, and accept that the results may not be what I like.”

Boone further added that lowering her expectations helped her to accept where she was “in the process” and be totally okay with it. She said that there’s freedom in realizing your own expectations are nothing more than mere constructs that you create in your own head yourself, and you have the power to change things in this regard.

As far as the world population is concerned, life satisfaction levels vary widely on a per country basis, and the level of expectations could also have something to do with it. A study conducted by researchers from the University of Southern Denmark once showed exactly why Danish citizens found themselves to be more satisfied with their lives compare to other Western countries. According to the researchers, it’s simply because of the fact that they don’t set ridiculously high expectations for themselves. “If expectations are unrealistically high they could be the basis of disappointment and low life satisfaction,” the researchers said. “While the Danes are very satisfied, their expectations [compared to other countries] are rather low.”

Setting high expectations isn’t always such a bad thing, of course. It can be helpful to set high goals for yourself in order to maintain a certain level of performance, and also to achieve better results than you may be accustomed to. But it’s also useful to remember that unrealistic goals can be harmful in the long run, as you may become used to focusing on nothing more than the outcome and forget about the process that takes you there in the first place.

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