Trying to make sense of life and to learn living it happily.

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Happiness "How To": Adjust Your Expectations

Some posts on this blog are purely theoretical, discussing what happiness is. Some of them, including this one, are practical guides to becoming a happier person. 

Art by ~smitzphotography

A better car, a more expensive dress, a bigger house will not make you happy for long. Look at the people who have them. They still may be unhappy and want more. We get anxieties and ulcers wishing for more of this and that, wasting our time on worries or envy instead of enjoying what we have.

The less you need to feel good, the easier it is for you to feel happy.

Ask yourself – what can you live with less of?  Less material gain? Fewer cloths maybe? Fewer designer handbags? An older car? Consider non-material values as well. Can you live with less success? Less power?

Some of our dreams and ambitions are unreasonable and unnecessary. Of course, very ambitious and tenacious people who do not settle for less may achieve great success. That does not mean they are happy. They need to dedicate a lot of time and energy to their goals and endure a lot of stress and disappointments on the way. And none of it guarantees that they emerge happy once they finally achieve their great ambitions. 

You should not feel like a quitter if you are happy and content with less than what is possible. Because truly it is impossible to gain it all. Whatever we have, there will always be more out there – better, bigger, newer, more popular. 

Also, understand clearly that a lot of your goals will not lead to happiness. They will lead to other things. For example, if you would like to be rich, the goal may be to live comfortably, to be free, to help other people. If you would like to improve your appearance, the goal may be to be popular, or to look like your favorite celebrity. If you would like to be powerful, the goal may be to be able to change the system, or to manage others. But not to be happy. We do not need any of the above to be happy. 

Realize that you can be happy with less.

Adjust your expectations. Become content. Start enjoying having less.


When you pass by storefront window displays, look at the nice things in there and ask yourself (and do not forget to ask your child) – can I live without it and still be happy? If you can (of course you can!), feel the lightness of not needing certain things to be a happy person. Feel that possessions have no power over your happiness. Feel that you have the power over your own happiness. 

When you watch a political debate or hear about celebrities, ask yourself – can I be happy if I am not a powerful politician or a famous celebrity? Can I be happy if I will never be rich? If you know you can, congratulate yourself!   

Start enjoying your life and hold on to this feeling of happiness with less.

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