Let’s Debate: Do Expectations Create Disappointment And Unhappiness?

Let’s Debate: Do Expectations Create Disappointment And Unhappiness?

I mean to post this many weeks ago. In fact, I’d even said I probably would to the person whose idea this was.

I would guess that by delaying (not intentional), I created disappointment, although hopefully not unhappiness.

And I’m sorry for that. Life has been throwing me one curve after another, and this kept getting pushed back.

So, let’s get started:

THE DEBATE: Do expectations create disappointment and unhappiness?

My Position: Yes, but with a few caveats.

In order to be disappointed, you have to have had expectations that were unfulfilled.

the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.

BUT, I think the question is very much a chicken-and-egg type of issue (which, BTW, the egg came first, duh).

Because in psychology, the most unhappy and disappointed people tend to be those who create the most expectations, especially unrealistic, non-negotiated, and non-communicated expectations, which are then unfulfilled.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 author Travis Bradberry says that “almost everyone who is unhappy is unhappy for the same reason”.

That reason, he suggests, is expectations.

Those who are the most satisfied in life and happiest seem able to live without a majority of common expectations, and communicate and negotiate for those they do have (which makes them more likely to be fulfilled), AND they choose the right expectations, which actually give them a boost towards success and fulfilling them.

For example, when we truly believe that we will do well, we do better overall than when we believe we will fail.

The Debate

I say yes, the wrong expectations do create disappointment and unhappiness, while the right expectations bring us great joy and fulfillment.

Others say that expectations are correlation, not causation, and have no great effect on our overall feelings.

What do you think?

  • What is the primary cause of disappointment? Unhappiness?
  • Are there “good expectations” to have and “bad expectations”?
  • Does it make a difference if those expectations are communicated and negotiated?
  • What are your most cherished expectations?

I look forward to reading your replies.


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