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Expectations | Happiness or Satisfaction - Which is Best?

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Does it have to be a Choice?

The answer is that it is always a choice, whether you are aware of it or not...

Let's refer back to last week and a graph we introduced. The book is out of print but you can still find it in used book sources. The book is very good, but you don't have to read the whole thing to find out where you are presently on your journey. Use this like a GPS. Have a look.

The graph has Emotions on the left and Time at the bottom. If you think about your position on it now it is kind of like a MAP. So what's the road ahead look like in terms of emotion? Do you see some "potholes" ahead? I hope not, but it is very likely there will be some. To study what they might be and devise strategies for dealing with them I recommend a report within the home website of Edward D Jones. I give only NON financial advice here. They give both, and so expect some promotion for products. However, the sections on recovering from various "detours and potholes" are very good, and free.

But I digress. The question we all ask is what do we do about finding happiness or satisfaction (if not euphoria) from where ever we are on our particular road of life?

What are your expectations? You are looking out the windshield, not the rear view mirror! At least I hope that for now. The time to reminisce will come soon enough.

To move forward let's start with your Set Point of Happiness. Did you know you have one? There is a huge amount of research that indicates you do, and it is genetic. But that's not all that determines how happy or sad or satisfied your are. What else could be happening?

Famous author paraphrased: 'Imagine a movie theater full of one hundred people. They represent the full range of happiness. Some are exceptionally happy, others less so, and others are terribly unhappy. All have a Set Point. People's happiness levels can be accounted for by their genetically determined SET Points. It could come from your biological mother or father or both. But it is there, and we tend to return to it despite any setback. Not all have a Happy Set Point.

The entire theater is subject to all of life's vicissitudes. Genetics causes some of the differences, circumstance causes some, but the part within our own control (or influence) is how we go about our daily activities, ie, - what we DO and what we THINK about what we do.

This is terrific news. It means that all of us could be a great deal happier if we scrutinized carefully what precise behaviors and thoughts VERY happy people naturally and habitually engaged in.' (End of paraphrased quote) This is from the book: The How of Happiness by author and researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky.

Your link, if you wish to go there is:

There are many good exercises you can go through to see what your own approach should be for your particular circumstances.

Now What

"It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future" - Yogi Berra

Remember it is not always clear what the road ahead appears to be. Yet, at any point, you can pause daily before starting off and split your allotted time into those things that are out of control, those things you can possibly influence, and those you are quite certain you know what is going to happen. You can go at your own pace. Slow down a bit if needed.

Just start with a simple list each day of these three. Then, at day's end, compare what you expected to happen in each area with what actually happened. Sometimes you will be euphoric, sometimes satisfied, sometimes not. But, generally, you will quickly feel a growing ability to manage expectations and the emotions coming from them. Five minutes in the AM, five in the PM. Total 10. Is your quality of life worth 10 minutes?

Your ability to choose how you feel will grow, and you can choose wisely.

Happy Days Ahead

Joe Grant, MBA

Certified Retirement Coach

Contact me for a Free 45 minute Consultation at

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