Expectations vs reality

8 Aug

What’s the key to enjoying life? Or at the very least, what is the key to a non-shitty existence? 

I think it is having the ability to be happy by yourself. 

There are many things that can be sources of self-fulfillment: work perfomance, an artwork, a personal goal that you are able to reach. It makes a person happy in the sense that for something that they spend time and effort on, there are tangible or at least conceivable results, which can be a source of pride and feelings of fulfillment. 

But often we need other people to reach happiness and self-actualization. We want someone to appreciate our efforts, comment on a job well done, made to feel that our achievements also make them proud and happy on our behalf. Someone to do things that make us feel special. Especially in an age of oversharing, our desire to be noticed and appreciated even gets more intense. Like posting something on social media and waiting for the “likes” to pour in. 

It is this desire that often lead us to feel underappreciated. But we have to remember: everyone has their own lives to worry about. Just like how we fidget about something great (or even just mundane stuff), so do other people. Maybe if we care about others genuinely, we might get reciprocation. 

Or maybe not. Expecting something in return is a recipe for disappointment. Even if it is, and especially if it is, from people we care deeply about, if our expectations are not met, it tends to hit us hard. So while we must also appreciate these people (because we genuinely care for them), we must not be thinking that they owe us something back. Or that it is their duty to make us feel special or loved. Lowering your expectations also diminish the possibility of disappointment. We can all live happier lives if we slowly disengage ourselves from the need to be noticed and appreciated by others, and instead find more contentment loving and appreciating ourselves. 

I think that in this world where the idea of not being in control of your own life is a possibilty (often more so for people who are trapped in unfortunate situations not of their doing such as extreme poverty, natural disasters, political instability or war), it becomes all the more important to be able to depend on onself for validation than to seek it from other people. If you expect it from others, then you must also be prepared for the harsh bite of reality. 

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