Happiness is… no expectations

11 Feb

Remember the Charlie Brown song “Happiness Is…”?

Growing up, happiness seemed like something I was born to live (and it’s true!)  Somehow through the years it eroded with mortgages, workloads, family stress, divorce, and life.  When you watch the evening news it is easy to see that happiness is not the mainstay in society but the road back to it can be as simple as the Charlie Brown song.

For me, happiness comes when I remove expectations of others.

This takes away a lot of the disappointment I used to experience when I expected something of others. Without expectations, there is room for positive surprises. Yes, I realize that life is an interconnected web of people, places and events, but it is in discovering my own pure worth where I find happiness. Reliance on anyone else to achieve my happiness is a surefire way to failure.

I believe Einstein’s quote:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The inverse of this is also true: sanity is doing something different each time so that you can expect different results.  Makes sense doesn’t it.

In my first half of life, insanity (from an Einstein perspective) ruled.  Now that I have tried the sane route (different things), I have gained new results.  I would like to share with you my different ways of looking at things that brings about different results.

  1. Hope for the best in others, but never expect it.
  2. Never make anyone a priority for whom you are only an option.
  3. You can only anticipate (and count on) you.

These are new adages for me!  In prior posts I s, I used to think that the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would like them to do unto you) was a universal law, but I know today that it is only an ideal.  People do as they please in spite of or in the absence of me and of you!  Just because your actions may be giving and considerate does not mean that anyone else will behave or  treat you well.

Let’s explore each adage:

Hope for the best in others, but never expect it.

Today more than ever, people are necessarily self-centered and foraging to make ends meet for their family. So, unless you lend them money or give them a high paying job, you are likely a bit player. Expect nothing from others, and it will remove your disappointment. In fact, should another respond positively, it is a bonus.

Instead of expecting that people will be considerate of you or treat you well, remember that you can hope for the best, but know that this may not happen. Expectations lead to disappointment – lower your expectations to none, and your disappointment will slowly disappear.  People will either live up to your new expectations (which are none) or do better. (Yes, I know that supporters of the Secret would argue that the way others treat you is your own manifestation – but this is utter b.s. You can only manifest your OWN behavior.)

Never make anyone a priority for whom you are only an option.

This is my adaptation of a quote I heard a few weeks ago by a dating expert.  As female (and some male) colleagues know – we often over-give our energy to others, prematurely.  We fall in love completely and genuinely and begin to take care of another (and even make him/her a priority in our life) before there is mutuality.

Some partnerships end up with one spouse taking care of the other (with good intentions) and the other taking care of him/herself. This can be prevented by following the adage and taking care of oneself first and foremost. Side dishes may be good at dinners, but not in relationships.

This realization came late for me as I spent too many years in a relationship where we both prioritized his needs. Fool me once, shame on you but fool me twice, shame on me! Never again will I make someone a priority for whom I am merely an option.

You can only anticipate (and count on) you.

This is one point I have included in prior blog posts but is worth repeating. We can only ever change our own behavior, and live in our own heads. As such, every other person we meet is governed by his/her own beliefs and directs behavior.

Since we have no control over anyone else’s mind (except in the case of temporary hypnosis), we can only take responsibility for and anticipate our own behavior. Removing this illusion of control from our lives frees us up for happiness.

Happiness is… no expectations.

Do you agree?

Wishing you a happy day!


8 Responses to “Happiness is… no expectations”

  1. mk Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    A few years ago I would bend over backwards for people and be so upset that when I asked for a favor they would not do it…Now I do nice things for people and dont expect anything from them and I have been getting better treatment. I guess when you dont expect it people suprise you!!! I love this article, I used to get so upset and feel used but now I feel so happy. I am the only person who can make me happy, its so nice getting older and wiser…


    • Carol Dekkers Monday, March 19, 2012 at 12:35 am #

      Thank you for taking the time out to comment! You might also be interested in the subsequent post (The More you Give, the More you… Give

      As a giving person, I can understand your frustration – it is difficult to give and give and give in an altruistic manner indefinitely.

      Have a nice week!


  2. Leandro Albornoz Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    [quote]I have no right to expect ANYTHING from anyone ever, life is a lot easier.[/quote]

    That line perfectly states the way I feel about this subject too. I do have expectations about myself, goals. I am however aware I can only count on me, some people may be willing to pitch in and help with some of my future projects, but I will not expect it. I’m just trying to be happy by simplifying my life.

    My best buddy from high school and I ended up back in our home town, after many years of being away with very little contact. He’s always played electric guitar, and I’ve always played drums; we’re both pretty good. He invited me to be the drummer of a band he wants to put together, and I initially liked the idea (it would honestly be something cool to do), but I went home and thought about it overnight; the next day I said I wouldn’t join in because I don’t want to feel anchored to my home town. He got very upset, and even used some strong words, now he’s ignoring me.

    I am fine not expecting anything from anyone, but I also don’t want be the object of expectations. It’s kinda overwhelming to see people upset with you, because you choose to live by a different code than theirs. Why do they dare to judge? I used to be like that too I guess; saggy pants for instance were very irritating to me for some reason, but now I just don’t care, I’ve sort of trained my brain to ignore things that bother me; I know I can’t change many of those things.

    Leandro Albornoz, from Chile.


    • Carol Dekkers Monday, January 2, 2012 at 10:32 am #


      Thank you for reading my blog – and for leaving a comment. It is nice to know that other people have similar experiences!

      One thing I notice is that I am terribly tolerant and accepting of other people and their choices in life, yet these same people do not accept me or my choices and feel they have the “right” to express their dissatisfaction with my choices (as if my choices have anything to do with them!) It is frustrating to accept people, be tolerant, not get angry or judgmental to people directly (we still judge people even if we stay silent), and allow them to live happy, productive lives, when others butt their noses in at every opportunity to tell us what IS.

      My solution is to observe and realize that (in the words of one counselor) not everyone is like me. Some people can only survive by feeling superior to others (because their own life is intolerant and shallow) by putting others down and being derogatory. With over 6 billion people in the world, you can easily find new friends who respect you.

      Wishing you a wonderful 2012!


  3. Lisa Yarost Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    I completely agree with this perspective, Carol. I would go so far as to say that sometimes our expectations of others amount to an inadvertent form of manipulation.
    We sometimes fool ourselves into believing that our actions and emotions automatically imply a quid pro quo of sorts, where person by person, action by action, our generous thoughts and good deeds will be measured out and balanced on a great scale of Instant Karma.
    That only results in disappointment.


    • Carol Dekkers Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

      Thank you Lisa! I appreciate your comments, and agree with you.

      I hope you have a fulfilling (non-disappointing) week!


  4. Bill Ravensberg Friday, February 11, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Hi Carol … Some more great insights.

    I think your conclusion could be a bit different than being “Happiness is … no expectations.”

    I think that having no expectations is safe in that you can’t be disappointed. But, not having any expectations, which would include yourself would not bring happiness but mediocrity. I like to hope for the unexpected.

    So, with that in mind, happiness comes from when someone does something ‘unexpected’ and it’s a pleasant surprise.

    It’s always refreshing when that happens because we do see all to often that everyone seems to be in it for themselves as you noted.

    Have a great day and enjoy the weekend in your glorious warm weather. We’ve been in a real cold spell for a while now and it’s getting downright tiring. The only real blessing has been more sunlight and longer days with the sun. It gets a bit depressing otherwise.

    Thanks for your continued blogging. I appreciate it and your comments do usually bring happiness.


    • Carol Dekkers Friday, February 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm #


      You always have an interesting perspective (maybe it is simply Canadian superiority!) Perhaps it didn’t come through in the post, but I have expectations (and anticipated behavior #3) ONLY for myself. The degree of disappointment that I’ve experienced with others has come at a cost to my own sanity – now that I realize I have no right to expect ANYTHING from anyone ever, life is a lot easier.

      While this insulates me from disappointment, it can be lonely at times… but the upside is that I take care of the Royal We (me, myself, and I) during this second half of life. Why it took me the first half of caring for my children, my ex-spouse, and everyone around me to find out that I was neglecting myself is unknown. Watch for an upcoming blog post on the topic of “It’s my turn – putting yourself first in the second half of life”.

      Stay warm – and know that it’s a mere 6 weeks until the Cherry Blossoms sprout and the GWN (Great White North) comes into the light. And then think of the LONG WARM golfing days ahead!



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