There are many books and ideas out there on happiness and how to get it. Many of them are right or part right but there is also a simple formula that you need to know so you can make happiness work for you. It isn’t the only thing you need to know about happiness but if you don’t know about the formula then the chances of you actually being happy are pretty slim. Some people use it automatically without reading about it, but for the most of us I think it will help to be reminded of what it is:
Happiness is when expectation meets reality.
That sounds pretty simple but the use of it can get a bit complex with some interesting twists so I’ll try to explain it the best I can.
We live in a western materialistic world, (I do anyway so I shouldn’t try to guess where you are from and how you live your life) so most of us might read the formula and agree and go about changing our external material reality to meet our internal expectations. That’s how we’ve been programmed to operate – set a goal for what will make us happy then we work to achieve it, or work to get the money to buy it. In other words we try to make our reality meet our expectations. That’s one way to make the formula work for you, but really, how well is that working for most of us and our society as a whole? If it was working why aren’t more of us happy? If it isn’t working for us then why not?
Some people are not as materialistic and are more spiritual by nature so instead of working or buying their way into happiness they have no need for that so they manifest material stuff into their lives to make their reality match their expectations to make them happy. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it is truly what you want to do and it’s working for you. But to my way of thinking it is spiritualising materialism and trying to change the outside world and not your internal thoughts.
What if we were to look at it the other way around and work on our internal expectations and make them match our external reality? Could that work? Shouldn’t it be easier to change our internal thoughts rather than our external reality?
You’ve probably heard about people travelling to poor parts of the world and telling about the happy smiling faces of the children, or how some people in truly appalling conditions or life circumstances can be happy. How is that possible when their reality is so bad? I believe it is because their expectations match their reality, and not the other way around. They see their lot in life and don’t expect more so they are happy with it (the grass is green enough where they are so they don’t need to look on the other side of the hill). They work on what they have direct control over, which is their own expectations.
Now I’m not saying that you should lower your expectations so that you are alone, homeless, bankrupt, and riddled with disease. That would simply be putting your expectations somewhere that is different to your reality. What I am saying is that you should take a good look at your life and the reality around you and where reasonable adjust your expectations so they are much closer to your reality. The closer they match the happier you will be. That’s simply how it works and I don’t think you can avoid it.
You can either work with the formula so your expectations and your reality match, or you can work against it and have your expectations constantly move away from your reality (which strangely enough is what most of us are taught to do by constantly resetting goals).
There is a little twist to this to be careful of.
I am not saying that you should have no goals or no desires or that you should stagnate and do nothing. That’s a common “trick” people tell themselves so they can then ignore the entire message and go back to their old comfortable ways. What I am saying is that you should have no goals or desires that are set with the purpose to make you happy because they will do the opposite. If you set the goal and reach it, you will be happy for a short time and then exactly as you are taught you will set a new goal so you will be unhappy again. It does work for some people and they love the thrill of the chase, if that works for you and you want to continue then don’t let me stop you. If it isn’t working for you then I’m simply asking you to consider why it isn’t working and suggesting a way out of the dilemma.
Here’s a little experiment for you to try to see if it makes sense or is just some theory that has no real use. Try it as a simple thought experiment for about 10 minutes where you think about the options and how it would work or not work. That’s not too long to see how happiness will work for you is it?
Here’s the experiment: Manifest happiness – right here and right now. Don’t beat around the bush and spend time to manifest the “stuff” that will make you happy but go direct to the source and simply be absolutely totally happy right here and right now.
Spend about 10 minutes or longer if you want but at least 10 minutes, thinking about your expectations and also your reality if you were truly absolutely happy right now exactly as you are. If you meditate then meditate on it, if not then just think about it. You are absolutely truly happy. Not tomorrow, not in a short time, but right now. You are truly absolutely happy with yourself and your life and your world.
What does that feel like, right now? If you are truly absolutely happy right now what are your expectations? What do you want to happen in the future if right now is blissful? What things do you need to make you happy if you are truly happy right now? If you are truly happy right now does the formula for happiness make sense to you and do your expectations match your reality?
When you are finished read on.
No peeking now.
Really, no peeking, just try it. It’s only 10 minutes.
Wait until you have done the experiment so it has the maximum benefit for you and your life and you aren’t just reading the words of some stranger but seeing how the stranger’s words correspond with what you’ve just experienced.
When you imagined being totally happy right now did your expectations match your reality? I think they must have. If they didn’t match then there was something you were not happy about so you couldn’t have been imagining total happiness. Of course if it just didn’t seem right then our two belief systems do not match at all and I’m sorry for wasting your time. It’s possible that our underlying beliefs are so widely apart that we simply won’t see eye to eye. But assuming we are even close then it might be worthwhile you working on your expectations rather than working on your reality.
What about goals for the future then? Do you just give up? Well, actually some people do and that’s a choice you have. There are other options as well. The most important one is that any goal you set is done for your entertainment or education or any other reason except for happiness. You don’t need “stuff” to make you happy, even if that stuff is something like spirituality or enlightenment. By all means go for the biggest and best 3-D LED TV with hi-fi surround sound or enlightenment, but you don’t need it to be happy. Only go for it if you want it.
What do you think? How did the experiment go for you?