Community Add OnsFourteen Fundamentals

Fundamental Six: Lower Your Expectations & Aspirations


In previewing our discussion of Fundamental Six, we will be addressing five major points. Each will help explain why you would be happier if you could “Lower Your Expectations and Aspirations.” The five points are:

  1. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.
  2. Our culture greatly overestimates the relationship between long-term goals and happiness.
  3. Happiness is a way to travel, not a place to arrive.
  4. Success may not lead to happiness, but happiness leads to success.
  5. Happy people get what they want, because they want what they can get.

Before we examine these points, we need to distinguish between “expectations” and “aspirations” as we will refer to the terms in our discussion below. “Expectations,” as we shall use the term, means the everyday, short-term predictions we make about upcoming events. They are the predictions we make about the way things will happen for us, in more immediate circumstances. “Aspirations,” on the other hand, are the more long-term predictions we plan for our life. These involve our expectations about the more distant future, and include such things as our goals, our hopes, and our dreams. The research on happiness has something significant to say about both these terms.

We’ll begin with everyday “expectations” first…


To start with, let me introduce one of the most basic ideas regarding happiness: high expectations lead to disappointment; low expectations lead to pleasant surprise. This basic principle underlies our entire discussion of Fundamental Six.

To understand this idea, let’s look at happiness in terms of a mathematical formula:

F.H. = ?

The formula begins with F.H., which represents “felt happiness.” Felt happiness, of course, is our objective. It is the feeling of happiness we seek.

But what does “felt happiness” equal? At the moment, our formula suggests a mystery. So let’s begin to fill-in the blank.

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