The Real, Honest Meaning of High Expectations vs Low Expectations

Jordan Brown

Thanksgiving is a big holiday in the United States.

And while that is a cause for celebration for many people, it's a cause for major anxiety for others.

Holidays used to be about time with family and for reflection.

Now, they are a time to be flooded with emails about Black Friday sales and subtle (or not so subtle) reminders from family and friends that you aren't good enough.

I'm talking about a little thing called high expectations.

Today, we're going to briefly discuss the trouble with high expectations--and what you can do to keep yourself sane.

Some Honest Thoughts On the Meaning of High Expectations

I used to love the holidays when I was a kid.

I loved the downtime. I loved the presents. I loved the food and the time with family.

Now that I think about it, I probably loved it all because I didn't have to do very much to get ready for it.

Once the naive blanket of youth was pulled from my eyes, I realized how much work went into it all.

I also realized how much money businesses spend to get people to care about the holidays so that they will, in turn, spend as much money as possible.

This kind of vibe is infectious.

What you see on TV seeps into how you feel about yourself.

People who, for 11 months of the year never cared much about "stuff" and how they were living their lives, suddenly become obsessed with the idea that they need to be doing more and more to make others happy.

Relationship not good enough?

Buy jewelry!

Have five family members?

Buy them all this new gadget!

Never mind the poor folks who don't have anyone to spend the holidays with.

Society never talks about them.

The funny thing is, holidays spent by myself, or with one or two others, tend to be the most relaxing, enjoyable holidays of all.

Again, we are talking about the insidious impact of high expectations.

It's enough to make the most mentally stable person start to lose their grip with reality.

So what do you do with high expectations?

You balance them out with low expectations.

Having Low Expectations (How to Lower Your Expectations and Why You Should Have Lower Expectations)

Low expectations sounds like a terrible term.

It sounds boring.

It sounds like you're not trying hard enough.

But that's what the powers that be want you to think (especially powers that want your money).

But low expectations are not inherently bad. They are just different.

Just like one tree is not bad because it looks different from another tree, low expectations are not better or worse. They just are.

In fact, I would argue that if you actually wanted to live a perfectly joyful life, the best way to be would be to live with no expectations.

But since we are all humans, let's focus on low expectations, which are much more attainable.

Having low expectations means you don't expect perfection from your family or friends.

It means you don't make huge assumptions about how an event is going to be.

Because perfection is dangerous.

Thinking that something or someone is perfect destroys your worldview when it turns out not to be true.

You can live your whole life thinking someone is the embodiment of perfection only to suffer a nervous breakdown when you learn that they've done something horrible.

It's much better to have low expectations.

Lowering your expectations is a human thing to do.

Because we are all flawed.

We all make mistakes.

And because we operate on a human level--not a corporate, monetized level.

Tally up your life with dollar signs and the number of things you own, and you start to enter a different realm.

You're now no better than the things you own.

Humans need balance.

They need to go back and forth between high and low. Or between nothing at all.

Here's your short high expectations / low expectations task for the next few days.

Make a mental or physical list of the expectations you have in your life.

Get them out into the open.

Cover all the categories.

Do you place high expectations on certain family members?

Maybe you have high expectations for certain situations or social contexts?

Whatever you do, list out your high expectations.

Then, when you can see them for what they are, decide what you want to do with them.

Do you actually enjoy thinking about your life in that way?

Or do you want to make a change?

Remember.

It doesn't have to be this way.

You always have a choice.

Maybe it's time to lower your expectations.

It's not good or bad.

It just is.