Lowering your expectations can make you happier... but that doesn't mean it's always a good idea

Posted on August 26, 2016

I took my Playbill. I found my seat. For nine months, I'd waited for it- the day printed on my ticket to see the hit Broadway show "Hamilton!"Just one thing slightly nagged at me: The pressure to love it as much as the massive fan base already did.

The show was, and is, sold out indefinitely, amid rave reviews and celebrity tweets from backstage. A friend who had seen "Hamilton" before me teased that I had built up this one performance so much in my mind, there was no way it could meet my expectations.

High expectations for entertainment, food, consumer products, vacations and more are everywhere—in five-star reviews on sites like Yelp, excited recommendations we get from friends and family, glowing endorsements on social media (not to mention actual paid advertising). But depending on your personal experiences and interests, that guidance may overhype or flop altogether. One-star Yelp reviews of national parks are an example of how people can still be miserable in places widely regarded as idyllic. Any particular decision may not impact your long-term happiness much, either—psychologists use the phrase “hedonic treadmill” to mean that happiness ultimately bounces back to some constant level, no matter what you do.

There’s scientific backing to the idea that lower, rather than higher, expectations lead to greater happiness in a given situation. The logic is that people are usually delighted to receive a greater reward than they anticipated, and disappointed about getting less than they expected.

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Source material from Scientific American

Mental Health News