How to Manage Your Expectations

In this cartoon, the first guy says, "You've just won 50 million dollars!" The second guy says, "Unbelievable!" The first guy corrects himself: "I'm sorry. I meant to say 15 million dollars." The second guy says, "Fuck!"

When something doesn’t go as expected, it can be tempting to get upset. Even sometimes when things go pretty darn well, and by all rights you should be happy, you might still get a bad taste in your mouth because events didn’t quiiiite live up to your expectations.

How can you avoid this situation? One way is to avoid setting expectations in the first place. Take every moment for what it is, rather than for what it could have been.

Recently I’ve been trying to focus on enjoying whatever’s happening now. If I catch myself thinking too much about hypothetical outcomes, things that either *should* have happened or *might* happen, I try to snap myself out of it.

How to do this? One trick I’ve found helpful, which I learned from this zenhabits post, is to get out of my own head and try to focus more on experiencing the physical environment. For example let’s say I’m walking home, and I find myself dwelling on something that I’d rather stop thinking about.  I’ll try to redirect my thoughts to the physical environment, for example I’ll pay attention to my feet hitting the sidewalk, to the sounds I’m hearing on the street, to the things I see nearby. If I had any sort of sense of smell, I’d probably be smelling, too. Now instead of thinking about what might happen, or what could’ve happened, I’m paying attention to what is actually happening right now.

Give it a try!

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