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Jeff Wolf

Writer / Adventurer

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Could the answer to our happiness be found in NO expectations?

Barry suggests, tongue-in-cheek, that the answer to happiness is low expectations. Could the answer be that happiness is found in NO expectations? While low expectations would mean you’re seldom disappointed, it also speaks to a person’s self-worth; I do not deserve more or better. Having no expectations doesn’t diminish my sense of worth and it does more than reduce disappointment; it allows joy and contentment in all circumstances.

If I work a long day and expect dinner on the table when I get home, I am disappointed (and possibly angry) when the expectation is not met. If dinner is on the table, it is merely what I expected. I may exchange pleasantries and say “Thank You”. But the experience is completely different if I had no expectation and found that someone had thought of me and taken the time to prepare a meal for me. My gratitude is real. My enjoyment is real. The experience of the meal is increased.

When I expect nothing, I am more than just “not disappointed” when I receive. I am pleased and thankful, even for the smallest things.

Topics: future happiness

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  • Aug 23 2011: In answer to the question, yes. My meditation teacher once said that "hope is the source of all suffering." This put people off because it sounds depressing, but in truth "hope" is just a kinder word for "expectation." People think they are different but they are not.
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      Aug 23 2011: We are the same in who we are. We are different in the lies we tell ourselves.
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      Aug 23 2011: I think the meditation teacher has it way wrong. Hope is at the core of our being. Hope for better. Hope for continued success. Hope for a cure. Hope is why we live.

      In my opionion, expectations suggest an entitlement. Hope allows.
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        Aug 23 2011: LYNN that was beautiful.
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        Aug 24 2011: Hope is positive expectation. Despair or despondency (technically, "pessimism"), is negative expectation.

        I would disagree that hope is why we live - although it does sound very poetic. And, apparently, hopeful people do live longer, generally speaking.
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          Aug 24 2011: I think there is a massive difference between hoping and expecting.

          I can hope that it's sunny tomorrow - whereas expecting either implies I have information that suggests it will be or I have some sort of control.
      • Aug 24 2011: Hope and expectation are identical. In both cases we don't know for sure what will happen, and in both cases we can be right or wrong, happy or sad, with the outcome. The only difference is the positive or negative connotation of the words.
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          Aug 24 2011: Not epistemically, they are not, and I don't think they're semantically equivalent either.

          If I go beyond hoping to expecting, there is usually a reason - a pattern has been established, there is some additional information about the outcomes, something.

          Think of the difference at a horse race. I can hope #5 wins, and still expect that the #8 has the better chance.

          Poetically, I can hope against hope, but can I expect against expectation?

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