I know there will be times in our lives when rubbish things happen. We become ill, we loose a loved one or we face redundancy. At these times we might be understandably unhappy. But what about the times when we feel unhappy and we don’t really know why. What causes that pervading feeling of unhappiness and what can we do about it?
Nat Ware suggests “The first step to being happy is to understand why we’re often unhappy.” You could spend a long time contemplating why you are feeling unhappy and still not really understand why. Luckily Nat has a suggestion. He believes “We are unhappy when our expectations exceed reality“.
Nat explains that our imagined reality is often different from our lived reality and that this results in unhappiness.
Our imagination has a key role in creating our expectations. In today’s society our imaginations are influenced by the media and social media. You could argue that social media images can encourage us to be aspirational. However, when those images are often staged or manipulated, how realistic are those aspirations?
Whose aspirations are they?
Nat also talks about how our past reality can impact on our present reality.
Are you often looking to the past with nostalgic eyes? I am sure I am not alone in looking back and remembering and reminiscing about all the good bits. I don’t think nostalgia per say is a bad thing but how much of our past reality is a true reflection of what was happening at that time or how we really felt. How we choose to remember our past can influence our expectations of the present.
Find out more: Why we are unhappy – the expectation gap
The questions this talk prompted for me? –
- What are my expectations?
- Where do my expectations come from?
- How can I balance my expectations with my goal of living a more contented life?
What do you think? Do you agree with Nat’s ideas? What experience do you have of the expectation gap?