Why Getting Your Hopes Up Isn’t Actually a Bad Thing

Author: August Clarke

We’ve all heard the saying: “Lower your expectations.”

The way people present it, it makes sense. If you don’t get your hopes up you can never be disappointed, right? And then if something good does happen, you’ll just be that much happier. Sounds like a recipe for happiness, right?

Maybe not.

As logical as it may seem to prepare yourself for disappointment in order to avoid crashing, later on, it’s not a very good strategy for staying happy in the meantime.

When you think about it, encouraging someone to lower their expectations is kind of like arguing that it’s better to drive over a spike in the road with a flat tire than an inflated one. It may mean your car will suffer less damage, but it’s also blatantly ignoring the fact that your wheels weren’t functioning properly, to begin with.

Well, let me tell you a secret: sometimes anticipation is the best part.

That’s not to say that nothing is ever as good as it seems. It’s just that sometimes the excitement leading up to an event or a bit of news is just as exciting as whatever it may be that is going to happen.

Think of it this way: Has there ever been a day in your life or a special occasion that you were really excited about? Try to think about how anticipating that event made you feel. Say you were going to your favorite band’s concert with one of your friends and you were really excited about it. Odds are, you would probably feel pretty giddy and happy as long as you have that event to look forward to. But what if your friend canceled a couple of days before, or the lead singer had a family emergency and the show got called off? Suddenly, that day doesn’t seem so exciting anymore. Even still, I bet you wouldn’t trade all the happiness you felt in all the weeks leading up to it.

Refusing to get your hopes up is basically equivalent to assuming that the worst is going to happen, which might be an okay method to avoid any unpleasant surprises, but it also ensures that you feel pretty miserable in the meantime. If you never allow yourself to raise your hopes, you’ll rob yourself of the joy that accompanies anticipation.

If you never allow yourself to raise your hopes, you’ll rob yourself of the joy that accompanies anticipation.”

The truth is, no matter how hard we try to lower our expectations, we still get disappointed when things don’t go how we wish they would. It’s far better to let yourself be happy in the meantime than spend your days stifling your own joy out of fear for the future.

People will argue all day over whether it’s better to be naively optimistic or a pessimist, but in the end, I see it this way: optimists are disappointed every once in a while, whereas pessimists are unhappy all the time.

Allow yourself to live in the moment and look forward to what may (or may not) happen!

People don’t realize the now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind.” – Eckhart Tolle