11 September 2012

On Expectations

The couchling

I finally received my little couchling this morning. Two months after ordering it, after two months sitting on the floor when playing Skyrim or reading a book. That's what August does to delivery lead time in France.

I am so happy about this new piece of furniture, I feel like a child getting an ice cream: all giggling and dancing and smiling. Which makes me think about an article on expectations that I read a couple of weeks ago. Let me explain.

I am genuinley happy with my couchling because I have reset my expectations to sitting on the floor these past two months. Tonight, I am going to indulge in a long play session with a cup of tea on my couchling and I will be grateful for this evening.

From this experience emerged a theory. I think there is a link between gratitude and expectations.
Am I grateful for having my new couch because I have reset my expectations to sitting on the floor? Would I be that grateful for sitting on my couch tonight if I had received it two months ago?

In other words, are we disappointed or unsatisfied because our expectations are too high? This goes for any part of our lives: what we expect from our partner, family and friends, what we expect from our job/career, from our home and possessions, from an evening out or a holiday travel...

It is exactly like the monkey and apples experience that I heard about on a TED talk a few months ago (I can't find which one, sorry for the source). It goes like that:
If you give a monkey an apple, he is happy with it. If you give another monkey two apples then take one away from him, he will be unhappy. So one monkey is happy and the other one is unhappy, although both have one apple.
So basically, we can be both very happy or extremely unsatisfied with the exact same situation we face in life. In that case, what if the secret of happiness was to have no expectations and accept life as it comes? What do you think?

See a conversation on TED about this very subject here.

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