Sunday, July 22, 2007

One Effect of Expectations On Happiness

Growing up, I was frequently disappointed with humans. I expected them to be rational. Now I expect them to be irrational, and am instead sometimes pleasantly surprised.

My values have not changed. Merely my expectations. And my expectations did not change as a negative, hurt reaction against irrationality -- that might only have left me cynical and bitter about human irrationality. Instead, my expectations changed in a positive quest to be more realistic about our human nature. That quest has not left me cynical and bitter, but merely aware that things of beauty to me (such as rational thought) do not grow everywhere anymore than flowers grow everywhere.

An old adage goes, "There are two ways of being rich. The first is to have more money than you want. The latter is to have fewer wants than the money you have." In my expectations, I have largely embraced the latter. I emotionally expect -- i.e. I demand -- a little less than the world is willing to cheerfully give. That "trick" has made for a great deal of personal happiness.

Can everyone use the very same trick to achieve a bit of happiness? I don't expect so. The trick I've talked about here is not compatible with everyone's spiritual path, for some people take the path of the idealist. It seems to me a genuine idealist is someone who demands more from the world than the world is willing to cheerfully give. It has it's place, idealism, but it's mostly not my own path. I largely reserve my idealism for those few things I believe I can personally change.

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