I was thinking recently about the 2018 holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and everything that goes with it. I had a pretty fantastic holiday season this past year, and I think the secret was this: low expectations.
That sounded a little sad to me at first, but it’s really not.
I have always had a tendency to romanticize and fantasize. My expectations of life and love were tainted at a young age by television and movies with scripted, well-lit scenes that make you feel warm, fuzzy, and inspired.
This has gotten in my way at different moments in my life. I find that I get extremely emotional during significant life events – graduations, weddings, holidays – and it often is because my expectations for myself, for others, and for life itself have been high. I want every moment to be magical. Many moments are magical – but not all of them are. Combine high expectations with a highly sensitive person, and the result is often disappointment which almost always (in my case) involves ugly crying.
A month or so ago, my sister gave me some good advice. She told me to stop trying so hard. This was unrelated to the holidays; I was stressed about something very different. And she basically advised me to stop caring about it so much. Which is really hard for me to do, because I care about everything and I think that if I do things a certain way, then things will work out a certain way.
But, this advice sort of sounded good. So I moved into the holiday activities, reminding myself before each event: This activity might just be sort of okay. And it worked beautifully. Not every event has to be perfect; not every moment has to be life-altering. It still sounds a little sad to me, even as I write this! But I think it’s true. And I think it’s a key to happiness.
Lower your expectations. It will actually help you to squeeze as much joy out of life as you can. And isn’t that just a little bit wonderful?