With our powerful and wonderful imaginations, we tend to create the perfect image of what we think will happen next, or as a consequence of something that we have done.
They are the sequence of events that are supposed to happen. Even though it is from our imagination, that is how the next part of our lives is going to be like, or how successful that meeting is going to be, or how romantic that blind date will turn out.
These mental images of our expectations can have quite an effect on us.
We experience disappointment and/or anger when things seem to go wrong. We can feel like giving up altogether. But things haven’t gone ‘wrong’ necessarily – they have simply just not fulfilled our expectations.
Surprisingly, pessimism could be the answer to dealing with unfulfilled expectations. Pessimism is somewhat regarded as the grumpy old man way of looking at life. It can be seen as a very negative way to live out your days as you only expect the worse in everything and everyone around you. It doesn’t sound particularly appealing to the dreamers out there (like me).
However, pessimism prepares you for the worst and protects you from disappointment. It makes a dreamer become more of a realist.
Our world is actually incredibly optimistic when you look at consumerism. Adverts constantly show you how products and purchases will fix problems in your life or make you feel better about yourself. Everything has a solution that you can buy. All the models in campaigns are either happy or beautiful – two things we chase after greatly throughout our lives. This constant reminder of happiness can influence our imaginations and therefore expectations about how our lives are going to turn out, especially if we buy that super expensive product that the pretty lady is holding.
I’m a big believer in dreams and making them happen, and would never tell anybody to aim for less, because if you aim for less, less is what you are probably going to get. I think pessimism can work for us dreamers by lowering our expectations of each step we take towards those big dreams. For example; that first pitch I send to make my first dollar with my writing. Pessimism can help me think that that first try was exactly that, a first try – it isn’t necessarily going to land me my dream job. Lowering my expectations will also make any victories seem even more special as they were unexpected. Therefore somewhat reducing expectations can lead to more contentment and therefore more happiness.
When things don’t go to plan, or don’t fulfil our expectation, we are easily persuaded to give up because of that perceived failure. With pessimism in mind, those expectations can be brought down to a more realistic level, making us more content with the outcome of the things that we actually achieve.
As that famous quote says:
Happiness = Expectations over Reality