How Your Expectations Affect Your Mood
Do you know that person who is really easygoing?
They always seem to just go with the flow, they laugh it off even though they've just splashed coffee all down their shirt, and they seem to enjoy whatever they're doing.
Honestly, I've never been that person, and I always (enviously) wondered what their secret was.
Turns out, it comes down to expectations.
Many of us hold some pretty clear expectations about how we believe things should go, and we're constantly comparing every single moment against these expectations.
When our experience doesn't match up, we feel disappointed or annoyed.
But "being open" makes it easier to experience positive feelings and reduce negatives, according to emotion scientist Dr Barbara Fredrickson.
By softening our expectations, we let go of how we think things should be and get more enjoyment from how they are.
We choose to be open to what is, rather than trying to control or change our experience.
This helps us to be less affected when things don't go according to plan, and more awake to the good in the present moment.
Here’s an example:
Let’s imagine that you had an evening out with a friend planned. But just as you’re heading out the door, your friend cancels on you.
If you hold rigid expectations about how that evening should have gone, and how your friend shouldn’t have canceled, you’re going to feel annoyed and disappointed.
"If I’d known, I would have planned something else!” you might find yourself thinking, and “What am I supposed to do now?”
You order takeout, flop onto the couch and watch whatever’s on Netflix. The evening feels like a big waste.
But if you’re approaching life with open expectations, you respond differently.
You understand that you can’t control this turn of events, so you instead accept that you now have the night to yourself.
Without negativity to cloud your mind, you're free to realise that it’s been a long time since you’ve had a whole night to yourself, and you ask yourself how you might make the best of this time.
You choose a movie you've been wanting to watch, get into your pajamas, and order your favourite takeout. Though it would have been nice to see your friend, you feel grateful for this relaxing evening.
At face value, your evening isn’t that different, but it feels different.
These days, I find that just reminding myself to soften my expectations at the start of any given day goes a long way when it comes to my mood.
So, why not try this? Release your expectations and approach the rest of your day with an open mind.
Then, share with us how this may have changed your experience.