As discussed in a previous post, happiness doesn’t just happen. We often need a plan. Within that plan it is helpful to be mindful of our expectations. I have often been told I need to adjust or even lower my expectations (not to be confused with standards) to mitigate disappointment and even anger. I happen to think my expectations are unreasonable. For instance I believe people should:
Be on time
The list goes on…
However, in real life these things don’t always happen. Some people can be jerks just don’t have the capacity to behave as if they’re received home training. Though realizing this has saved me from some unnecessary aggravation, I still have work to do in this space. People do get on these nerves.
In my continued efforts to evolve, I thought this post by Eric Barker offered a great tip to keep anger, disappointments and resentments from other life’s disappointments in check. The article, 5 Questions That Will Make You Emotionally Strong, presents questions to ask yourself that will help prepare you for the inevitable people and situations that will make you feel like you might want to read someone “for filth” or devolve into Michael Douglas in Falling Down. Here are the 5 questions:
Is it useful? – Most worrying isn’t. Make a decision to do something or to let it go.
(This is can be a tough one, particularly if you struggle with anxiety but it’s a great thing to keep in mind when engaging in behavior or thoughts that can be destructive.)
Does the world owe me this? – No. Don’t be entitled. Have realistic expectations and you won’t get angry.
(Confronting entitlement is extremely freeing and is kind of a version of the “life isn’t fair” statement-something people of color usually have to accept early on.)
Must I have this to live a happy life? – Probably not. It takes little to make a happy life and there are many ways to get those things.
(Whether it is things or opportunities, keeping this in mind helps decrease the idea that happiness is outside of us.)
Is this who I want to be? Act the way you do when you’re at your best.
(Remember this when you feel like you want to wrap your hands around a neck…)
Have I ever felt that way? Respond to others’ problems with compassion and you’ll both have fewer problems.
(This could be a struggle at times because for some people, losing their charger is a calamity…but, as often as possible engaging in “perspective taking” is a great way to temper negative emotions with someone.)
To read the article in its entirety click here.
These 5 questions serve as a great mental toolkit to help guard us from needless suffering. Life will still take its toll and folks will still push our buttons but by keeping these ideas in mind, we can lessen our emotionally charge and have more energy to focus on what and who is amazing in life.