In general I’m known by my friends as a smiling person. Once a colleague asked me: “Why are you always smiling?” Then I smiled and answered him: “Because I have low expectations!”
Just think about it. What is frustration? What is dissatisfaction? What makes people complain so much about the difficulties they have? What is the reason so many people complain about their lives in general?
I believe in an extremely simple explanation: Frustration is the result of the difference between our reality and our expectations.
We can even express this as a Math formula:
Frustration = Expectations – Reality
The bigger the difference between our expectations and our reality, the more frustrated we will be. There are two ways to reduce this difference:
- Reduce our expectations
- Improve our reality
In general people tend to try to improve their reality instead of reducing their expectations. This is particularly true in our consumption-driven society in which success is measured by the accumulation of material goods.
There is nothing wrong about people trying to improve their reality. The progress and economic development of a nation are the result of the joint efforts of a population in which each individual is trying to improve his own life.
However there is a problem when many people have expectations which are not realistic. By definition only a few people will become rich. Only a few people will become famous. Only a few people will be able to achieve all their goals.
Being realistic does not mean not trying to be rich or not trying to be famous. Being realistic means being aware of your chances. It means being conscient about the difficulty involved in reaching your goals.
I think that this lack of realism is what makes most people fail. Because they underestimate their challenges, they do not work hard enough. Because they think it will be easy to reach their goals, they do not prepare well enough.
Thus reducing our expectations does not necessarily mean changing our goals. It means being realistic about how difficult it will be to reach our goals.
Keep your goals. Be realistic. Smile.