The Happiness Connection  

Be wary of expectations

Did you watch the Academy Awards last Sunday?

Do you agree with the winner, or would you have chosen a different movie to take the top honour?

Every year, as soon as the nominations for the Oscars are announced, I set myself the task of trying to watch each one of them before the ceremony happens. My husband joins me in this challenge.

The fun of this task is that we go to movies we otherwise wouldn’t have chosen. Too much violence will keep me away, and too much dialogue will stop my husband. We take the viewpoint that if the movie is good enough to be nominated, it is good enough to invest our time and money in.

If possible, I like to see these movies on the big screen, the way they were designed to be seen. Watching the movies in the theatre has a strange advantage. I get to sit among other people and listen to their conversations.

Many times, I hear people mention all the great things they have heard about a movie – before they watch it, and then how it didn’t live up to their expectations when it is finished.

Sometimes it is the other way around. People have low expectations about a movie and then are pleasantly surprised at how good it is.

My husband often quizzes me on what the movie is about as we are on our way to the cinema. More often that not, I can only give him a vague idea.

I’ve stopped paying much attention to whether other people love, hate, or are indifferent to movies that I want to see. I used to do that, but I discovered that too often I’d get so excited to see a movie that everyone was raving about, only to be disappointed.

Some of the best movies I’ve ever seen, I didn’t think I’d enjoy before I watched them. Hacksaw Ridge fell into that category for me this year. I had heard how bloody and violent it was, which was true, but I enjoyed the story behind it, and it was beautifully crafted.

Do you ever find yourself disappointed in a movie that you heard was the best ever, or go to a party full of anticipation about how great it would be, only to find it wasn’t as good, or as much fun as you had imagined? If so, you are not alone.

When your expectations are high, they have no where to go but down.

If you are ready to increase your happiness, try lowering your pre-event expectations.

I’m not suggesting that you should go around thinking that everything is going to suck, but don’t let your imagination go wild, and build expectations up to unrealistic heights.

Use this information to your advantage. Going someplace when you don’t expect to have much enjoyment, may well mean you are pleasantly surprised. This gives a little kick of unexpected happiness.

Being disappointed isn’t always a bad thing, but it can really create havoc with your level of well-being.

The next time you have a trip of a life-time planned, give your imagination some time off. Go into it feeling excited about the adventure, but axe the more detailed expectations.

Being in a rainy Dubai when you had been dreaming about lying in the sun will do nothing for your enjoyment of the holiday. Hoping for sun, but realizing you can’t control the weather is a better approach.

Next year, if you want to see all the best picture nominations before the Academy Awards, go into them with no expectation, good or bad. Just appreciate them for what they are. Ignore what others have to say.

A blank slate can contribute to a happy state. 

More The Happiness Connection articles

About the Author

Reen Rose is an educator, speaker and author who specializes in positive psychology and success. She has been teaching children and adults for over three decades and is a passionate lifelong learner. 

Currently, Reen is helping schools create cultures that foster mental well-being, growth mindsets and robust happiness. She encourages teachers and parents to model this behaviour for their students and children. This is also a good strategy for business and community leaders.

Reen offers presentations and workshops that are a blend of research-based expertise, storytelling, humour and practical strategies.

Reen is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at Reen@ReenRose.com

Check out her website at www.ReenRose.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories