Expect Less, Enjoy More

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who has had great expectations for something—be it a first date, a new movie, or a job interview—and has been let down when reality did not match up to our vision.  It can be hard to deal with and certainly disappointing when life just doesn’t go the way you expected it to.

So how can we deal with our own disenchantment and how can we prevent it from happening again?

We must expect less.

Have you ever gone into an experience with so many thoughts about how it would turn out?  Were you disappointed when it didn’t pan out the way you thought it would?  Some of the best times I’ve ever had in my life have been when I hadn’t expected anything or even dreaded the experience.

While I was in Las Vegas this past weekend, my friends and I decided to go to a German beer hall called Hofbräuhaus.  To be honest, I wasn’t that excited about it because I had no clue what I was getting myself into, but I went.  It ended up being one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in Vegas.  It was loud and rowdy, with a hilarious master of ceremonies and the most bored-looking band I’ve ever seen. The food and beer were excellent and the eye candy even better.  My friends and I had a blast drumming on the table, singing along to Rammstein, and cheering on the participants of the Strong Man and Beer Chugging contests.

Why, yes!  I was a participant in the beer chugging contest. I blame the peer pressure.

The three of us who hadn’t experienced the German beer hall atmosphere all walked out saying, “We’ve got to come back and do this again!”

Expecting Less vs. Lowering Expectations

Now, there is a very big difference between expecting less and lowering expectations.  Expecting less is all about keeping our preconceived notions off the pedestal while lowering expectations is about bringing the pedestal closer to the ground. Let me explain and for that I need Disney princesses.

Yep, I blame these couples for a generation of girls having unreasonable expectations of relationships.

Most little girls are brought up with the classic Disney fairy tales (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, etc.) where the princess always gets her prince.  We are taught to believe that a knight in shining armor will someday rescue us and we will live happily ever after.  As we grow up, we find that men do not meet our fairy tale dreams.  I have yet to encounter a man who rides up on a white horse ready to sweep me off my feet or searches a kingdom looking to find the woman who left her shoe behind.  The characteristics of our “dream man” seem to grow longer as we age and we find that the men we date do not possess all of the princely characteristics we were programmed to expect.

As I’ve discussed in a previous post, I do not believe in settling when it comes to love, but as I mature, I have learned that it’s better to go into the dating world without expecting much.  That’s not to say I would give up on my nonnegotiables, but I am realizing that stepping up to bat thinking I’m going to hit a home run right out of the park is unfathomable.  Sure, there is a very slim chance that the planets align,  I win the cosmic lottery, the ball makes contact with the bat, and I find the charming prince I have spent a lifetime looking for, but it’s just not very likely.

And that’s ok.

I don’t need a man who looks like George Clooney to show up at my doorstep with several dozen roses and declare that I’m the only one for him and no other woman could ever make him happy.

Wishful expectations.

Though, I certainly wouldn’t slam the door in George’s face if he did appear.  No offense to your girlfriends, but give me a call some time, George!

I guess in the end, it’s not about what we thought would happen, but what actually did.  When we free our minds from expectations, we open our hearts to fantastic experiences we could have missed because they didn’t live up to the exact ideas we had in our brains.  Without having to give up on what you want in life, forget what you want to happen and just enjoy what does.

You never know how happy you’ll be.

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7 thoughts on “Expect Less, Enjoy More

  1. L says:

    While I have a particular soft spot for things Disney (that the only way a girl who’s worked in Disney World can still appreciate the magic), I agree with you on the unrealistic expectations that girls are taught to have by Disney princesses. Don’t get me started on unrealistic hair expectations…. see Jenna Marbles’ take on this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rT28Z0xM88

    I agree that we need to not put others on a pedestal, otherwise we are doomed to be disappointed when they inevitable don’t measure up. And that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone else. Let’s just work on creating realistic expectations, and not lose sight of our non-negotiables in the meantime.

    • Jessica says:

      It’s hard not to love Disney. I’ve always been a huge fan and am so grateful to live in Southern California where I can go to the park whenever I please. I even took a class in college (appropriately titled “The Happiest Class on Earth”) on the history, films, and messages of the brand. You are so lucky to have worked there, Laura! Please tell me you were one of the characters. You’ve got Tinkerbell written all over you! =)

      It’s hard not to get our hopes up, but you are right, having realistic expectations is more important than putting people on pedestals. I believe that some expectations are good and quite necessary, but if you go into every situation with a vision of how it’s going to turn out, disappointment is inevitable.

      • L says:

        Haha I sadly was not a character, though I was told I could have pulled off Cinderella, and my costume was pretty cool, black and pink poodle skirt and roller skates! I was part of the International College Program for the summer of 2005. It was amazing, I made wonderful friends there. And I’m hoping to get to go back soon.

  2. amberwideman says:

    Great thoughts here, Jessica. A couple summers ago, I decided to do a little experiment. I found that I was being let down a lot and generally wasn’t very happy. However, I decided that I was going to try going my entire summer without setting any expectations. I lived by the very simple motto of “no expectations” (catchy, ain’t it?). I can honestly say that I had the best summer of my life. I found that I appreciated the smaller moments more and didn’t hold on to false expectations for the big moments. I found myself to be a lot happier. It was such a wonderful experience to live life unexpectantly and instead to just embrace whatever happened. I try to encourage as many people as possible to try the same experiment. So thanks for writing on this topic. And for the record, if G. Clooney showed up at my door I would probably faint. Such a babe.

    • Jessica says:

      If only we could live unexpectantly without having to consciously tell ourselves of this. I’m so glad you shared your fantastically happy summer. It really is all about just enjoying what life has to offer. George is like a fine wine… getting better with age!

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