I remember reading a story about the Danes being the happiest people on earth. They are active people, generally married and healthier than their neighbors. They live their lives in the present tense – today. But, their expectations of the future are very low. So, if today is better than they thought it would be yesterday, then automatically, they are happy. That’s a difficult way to look at the world. Expect little to nothing – get a little something – and be happy about it.
Happiness is a result of our expectations. Happiness is the difference between our expectations and our reality. If expectations exceed reality, then we are happy. If not, then we are unhappy. That is a pretty simplistic formula, but relatively accurate.
Desire is related to the present, not the future. Desire is more representative of our reality – what we live in every day. If we have it pretty good, then our desires are satisfied and our future expectations are lowered. If our current reality is lacking, then our desire is to better and our expectations are increased. Our desires and expectations today are dynamic; they change as our reality changes.
If today I have a desire to go to Honolulu, Hawaii tomorrow. I desire to leave winter behind and enjoy the tropics. Because I have that desire today, I have an expectation to take that trip tomorrow. If something happens which causes me to cancel the trip, my desire and expectation still remain. We live in a world in which desires and expectations are unfulfilled on a regular basis – in many cases caused by things outside our control.
Let’s say I have a medium-high expectation to go to Honolulu tomorrow. If I complete the trip, I will be happy. If I do not complete the trip, I will be disappointed to unhappy dependent on the cause. If I had control over the reason not to go, then I would be more unhappy than disappointed. We control our happiness to a degree. As we age our population has a tendency to lower their expectations which results in a false happiness. Lower expectations fulfilled means happiness achieved – like the Danes discussed earlier.
I believe we condition ourselves to be consoled and assured in our comfort zones, that we don’t dare want to step outside and risk failure, disappointment or catastrophe. Our reality muscles our desires to accept what we have because that’s what we deserve – what we’ve earned over our lifetime. We set ourselves up unconsciously for accepting failure that has yet to be proved. We accept the risk of failure as 100% and go into avoidance mode for greater expectations – all caused by our comfort zone’s safety and security.
Outside forces affect us, our desires and expectations. If the economy has you worried about being out of work or other factors (finances, savings, medical bills, repair bills, etc.), then your expectations are lowered. We artificially use factors we can’t control for the most part to modify our desires and expectations; and, as a result, impact our happiness.
What is stopping you from having happiness in the face of economic uncertainty? Your subconscious mind is leading the charge. The fear, dread, panic, worry, anxiety, etc. impact your subconscious mind and it paralyzes your desires which typically ignite your expectations.
You have control over a lot of things, but you choose not to accept the risk. A good buddy comes to you and says that he just got involved with this fantastic product/service and for $49.95 you can get in and make a lot of money. The salesman alarm detonates in your subconscious mind and tells you – NO WAY! I’ve tried this before and failed and I’m not going to allow it to happen again.
Your subconscious controls your happiness whether you want it to or not. How do you begin changing it to increase your happiness? You can’t do it consciously – it doesn’t work that way. You begin with what you can control – first your attitude.
When things don’t look so depressing, miserable, hopeless or forlorn, you can make strides where others won’t take the time or trouble to do it. Attitude is a major factor in accepting your reality, understanding that no matter what happens, it is temporary – worst case. Your attitude will alter your desires to a higher level and cause your expectations to increase.
As Newton’s Law tells us – every object tends to remain constant in a state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. Thinking gets the change started with attitude. But, you have to apply a force – take an action – accept a risk – to convert those expectations into reality. Little successes equal major changes in happiness.