You’ve surely heard the old expression, “Life is like flying an airplane. Your attitude determines your altitude.”
I absolutely believe that maintaining a positive mindset is critical to happiness and success, and I’ve got science on my side. People who believe in themselves use more of their brain and have more mental horsepower to solve problems, according to research done at LSU.
Our expectations play a critical role in our mental attitude and our interactions with others. If we expect to succeed, we have a better chance of doing so. Similarly, if we believe in another person, we treat them better and invest more effort in their success than if we expect from the outset that they will fail.
Expectations are so powerful that holding onto the wrong ones can drag your mind down like an overloaded airplane, limiting both your success and happiness.
Here are eight expectations that you should jettison ASAP, courtesy of Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0.
1. Everyone should like me. Yes, you are awesome. But some people (go figure) still won’t like you – deal with it. Expecting that everyone will like you leaves you open to getting your feelings hurt. It may also cause you to take shortcuts on the road to building true friendships by, for example, demanding too much, too early in a relationship. So, don’t worry whether everybody likes you. Instead focus on earning their respect and trust, and see where it goes from there.
2. Opportunities will fall into my lap. Remember that poster with one buzzard telling another, “Patience, hell. I’m gonna go kill something?” That’s the right attitude. Waiting around for the assignment, pay raise or promotion you “deserve” will do nothing but lead to frustration and resentment. Don’t limit yourself to what others decide to give you. Set your goals, work hard, and then make the case for the reward you have earned.
3. Life should be fair. Incredibly, despite a non-stop stream of evidence to the contrary, many of us still harbor this expectation. Stop. Everybody gets a raw deal every now and then. That’s, ummm, life. Learn to let it go, dust yourself off and continue your journey through this beautiful yet sometimes savage jungle.
4. People should understand me. Always remember: It’s not what you said; it’s what they heard, that matters. Your co-workers and friends can’t read your mind. Nor should you expect them to carefully analyze and parse your every sentence. Get the peanut brittle out of your mouth and tell people exactly what you mean in clear, precise language.
5. I’m going to fail. See above. Heck, see everything you’ve been told since kindergarten. This is the Big One, the most self-limiting of expectations. If you go into a situation believing you will fail, you dramatically increase the chance of that exact outcome. But you knew that, right? Right?
6. People should agree with me. Do you get offended when people disagree with you? If so, you need to get out of your own head. People form opinions and views based on their own experience, background and agenda. No two people see things exactly the same. Instead of resenting disagreement, try to understand (and learn from) the views of others and work to find mutually satisfactory solutions and decisions.
7. Stuff will make me happy. Material possessions can make life comfortable, easy and fun. But they can’t fill that hole in your heart. Too much? Well, you know what I mean; stuff can’t make you happy. Nor can the next promotion or professional award. Happiness comes from within. If you are less than happy these days, make the time to look inside for the real cause of your dissatisfaction.
8. I can change him (or her). No, you can’t. Not without creating deep resentment that has the potential to rupture the relationship. Are you a “rescuer,” someone who is actually drawn to troubled people by the lure of saving and fixing them? If so, you need to change yourself.