Expectations and happiness are inversely proportional

Are you happy? Why?

I started to read about this topic today, when I saw a FaceBook post by my sister-in-law. She has just finished college and has started to take up her job. She wrote – “There is nothing more depressing to have everything and still be sad…”. My reply was simple – “You got this wrong kiddo”.

My thoughts were revolving around needs and necessity and how they impact ones “Happiness Quotient”. But, when I started to read around, I did encounter a better word for the same – Expectations. I am going to quote a website that I came across while I was reading and trying to find out what others might say on this topic. However, Wikipedia has a very interesting way of describing it.

An expectation is a mental prediction of what will happen in the future when we don’t know for sure. If what does actually happen matches or exceeds our expectation of it we experience positive emotions such as satisfaction, joy, surprise, or gratification. If, on the other hand, what occurs is different from what we expected or is less than what we expected, we experience negative emotions such as disappointment, anger, or frustration.

No matter what I read and where I read, everyone talks about one thing – “Expectations and happiness are inversely proportional”. I am going to use a 4-quadrant matrix to explain how. Let’s spend a few minutes looking at the image below.

Happiness and Expectations
Happiness and Expectations

The first thing that you would have noticed that I have introduced the concept of Resources. I have not really explained that before this depiction, and will do it as we move along. A quick definition as the name itself suggests is “Resource is any physical or virtual entity that can be consumed to obtain benefit from. It can be money, time, or influence over people. Another key aspect of resource is that it is always limited“. Also, a resource sometimes will be within our control and other times not. Like, we expect a raise in Salary, but we do not control it; we expect live happily ever after with our loved ones, but they have their own plans. So, in a way those are also resources that if in our favor are in abundance and other times not in abundance.

With definitions taken care of, let’s start looking at each quadrant at a time.

Quadrant 1: World of a Child

I believe that this Quadrant only exists when we are kids. As kids, we do not have many expectations and our resources are limited and dependent on what our parents give us. Also, when I say “kids”, I mean the age of under 5-7. Kids, just want a few things – play, have fun and some toys. If kids get those just enough, they are happy otherwise they are crappy.

Quadrant 2: Kingdom of Dreams

I call this so, because I don’t think this quadrant actually exists. More resources and not so many expectations is a stage everyone would like to be. This is the only quadrant where one can be in state of happiness and can think of moving towards higher goals in life like spirituality. As we grow in life, we move straight into Quadrants 3 or 4. Which quadrant we move into is a matter of how we manage ourselves and our expectations. A lot of it is also dependent on what our society around us teaches us.

Quadrant 3: Steps to Sadness

While Quadrant reflects us that we have adequate resources and same number of expectations, this is not really where we are happy, or not for a long time. This Quadrant is actually a transient phase in our lives and we stay in this Quadrant for very short durations – like birth of our child, a success in career, festivals, family functions etc. Sometimes in our lives we get just enough resources to make ends meet and it is then that we make some of our expectations come true, but as we fulfill that expectation we right away increase our expectations and we go about ensuring we have resources to meet that one too.

Quadrant 4: The Pandora’s Box

This is the Quadrant where we spend most time of our lives. We spend time struggling through resources and people and events to make sure we have resources to make our expectations and dreams come true. You would have read in the earlier Quadrant that we can sometimes make some dreams come true, but them immediately our expectations from ourselves and other’s expectations from us increase. How happy we are, is dependent on how successful we are in keeping those expectations close to our resources. Most desperate and sad people are those who actually let their expectations overtake their emotions. It then that we spend our lives in earning resources to make those “dreams” come true.

Summary

As you may read in some of the related articles, and also in the text above – you may be thinking – “Do we have to lower our expectations to be happy?”. “Do we need to let go our aspirations to be happy?”.

I do not say that. All, I say is that you need to know what expectations you have from your life and how you are going to keep up the balance. The more you live your life in the 4th Quadrant, the more dissatisfied you will be in your life. I do not want to infer or plan to let go of all of my goals in life and the good things I want for my family. However, over time, I have started to realize and categorize in which areas do I need to have my expectations run high. And, in which areas do I have to start with a lower set of expectations and hence do not set myself up for a disappointment.

It is not easy to do, and all I can say is “Best of Luck!” (and remember there is no such thing as Luck – it is eventually your choice).

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Karma

In last few months, I have adopted a belief and have strongly moved towards the existence of Karma. That means that I no longer believe in Fate, Luck or Destiny. Before I go about explaining how and why I arrived at this thought process, let me start off by explaining to you all what I understand of these words. If you want to learn more about it, I have provided links to all of these. My viewpoints mentioned in this post are just a summary of the concept and they closely follow what Brahmins follow in Hindu. I am not going to digress into Jainism, Buddhism or any other religions and debate what they each mean/infer of these divine words.

Karma can be summarized from a theist viewpoint as “God does not make one suffer for no reason nor does He make one happy for no reason. God is very fair and gives you exactly what you deserve.”

Luck is either a good or bad fortune in life caused by accident or chance, and attributed by some to reasons of faith or superstition, which happens beyond a person’s control.

Destiny refers to a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual. It is a concept based on the belief that a fixed natural order to the cosmos. Destiny and Fate may be used interchangeably.

Now to tie things up – about a month ago, I wrote about Destiny and why it has me confused. As you read that post, you will find me conflicted, but I do make a point that it seems my existence is purposeless. I have to exist to fulfill a purpose just like any other object in the universe be it Sun or be it an Ant or a pebble. We all play our roles in the environment around us. So, if everything has to be pre-determined or Destined, that all of this is simply pointless. Why would God create such a world where everything is pre-decided. Do we create a game where we know what is going to happen. Will we enjoy it?

Decision 1: There is no such thing as Destiny.

Just like Destiny, Luck is something that happens for no reason. Now, we all know that it is a proven fact of life a scientific principle proven – “every action has a reaction”. Hence, there has to be an action for an event to happen. Things do not happen for no reason. Everything has a reason, just we don’t understand what that is. Read this post here; and you will see that I was able to find a few reason about why the chain of events took place. It also ties to our responsibilities and we are given a chance for God to fix things that we may have done wrong.

Decision 2: There is no such thing as Luck.

That leaves me with just one reason – Does Karma has a very big role to play in our lives? It is all based on what decisions we make. God provides is with options in every aspect of our life, He asks us to make choice and decide what we are going to do in every single moment. Sometimes, those decisions are just easy to make as they are trivial like eat what at a diner; buy a car. There are other times when these decisions are very difficult to make and are life-altering like this one. But, the choice is ours – we have our free will. Two people in same situation have the capability to think and choose what they are going to do. One of them may chose to pardon sins of another while the other may turn to terrorism or depression. But, the decision is theirs to make. It the sum-total of these decisions that lead to the events in our life.

Hinduism believes in after-life and reincarnation; while Christianity believes in one life. However, in both the religions and some others that I have read about (I am no expert in Atheism or religions and my knowledge is limited) do talk about the sins of your earlier life or your ancestors are carried over to you and you have to pay for it. I have never heard of a religion talk about a good deed to be carried over.That is one reason why I do not believe in a religion, but do believe in God. Religions talk about bad things and then they ask people to come to the Divine shelter of God i.e. the Holy Place. I feel it is self-marketing.. I have arrived at this theory for Karma. Now, I have not read it anywhere, so if someone comes across a text where there is written somewhere, please point it out and I will pass on the credit/links. However, I do want to announce that I did come up with his all by myself.

Rule: Your Karma decides what you get back in life.

God, maintains a balance scorecard for us. It all starts with a ZERO (0) at some point. As we live our life, we are provided with choices – some of those choices are right and other are wrong (how is another topic I will cover later; lets assume to be right an wrong for this conversation). We have to decide what we would do in such a scenario. Based on our decisions, we are awarded points or points are taken away from us. Now, when we go t God and pray for something, or want something in our life, God sees what is our Scorecard and gives is what we deserve. We either get what we asked for or we don’t or we get something in between; but all that is based on what our scorecard is at that time. Once we have been awarded, our scores neutralizes back – it is like earning “Game Points” and spending those in the game for powers to do bigger things.

So, you may be asking yourself, how do I explain the exceptional people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sachin Tendulkar who were born with talent. My answer to that is that those people had their scores carries from a earlier life. They did some good things and they were rewarded with a head-start. Now, we have people like them with exceptional leadership skills, and then we also have people like Osama bin Ladin who also had exception leadership skills. What they chose to do with those leadership skills was their decisions. A few decided to do good to the world, while other decided otherwise. They will have been rewarded as per their actions.

Now, Karma becomes more complicated when you put people together. Have you ever heard a husband say “My wife is lucky for me” (I have ben saying that for 5 years now) or a father say “My daughter/son is lucky for me”. Remember, we have established that there is Luck. So what is this? It is two people’s Karma’s coming together. We do not decide our Spouse based on their good fortunes, but we try to choose based on what we know of them – what good they have done (or what bad they are capable of if we are negative people to begin with). But, we essentially try to match up. Based on our decisions, we get chances to do more good together and it is our way to build up that balance scorecard. Who we are blessed with (our kids) is a direct result of what do and what scorecard we have. And, it is our chance to make a difference with that kid. God entrusts that child to us and what we make out of him/her is our Karma. How good are parents is a head-start that a kid gets based on their earlier balance scorecard that is a carry forwarded.

 

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I am the author of my life

I saw a friend of mine update his GTalk status to:

“I am the author of my life. Unfortunately, I am writing in pen and I cant erase my mistakes”.

For some time now, I have been thinking to start writing about what I have been thinking about a few topics below but never got to do it; kind of lazy. I guess I start here and now.

  • Destiny vs. Coincidence;
  • Karma vs. Luck;
  • Process of life vs. Life;
  • Journey vs. Destination

Coming back to the quote my friend shared – I do not care if we write in pen or pencil – we just write and there are no mistakes.

Everything that we think is wrong is not wrong, it is destined to happen because of our Karma from previous life or this life (I will come to it). The important thing is that as we draw out our life, it is important to read the book we are writing or else we do not know what else we can try and see what the results can be. I read someplace – “Remember there are no mistakes, only lessons”.

The GTalk status has a negativity attached to it and if we think like that then we are already in the zone of dead and we wont live life, we will constantly think about fixing what is “supposedly” wrong. I do not like that attitude in life, or at least have started to dislike it over due course.