Who was it who said expectations were great? You're thinking Charles Dickens, of course; but he didn't really say that. His simply titled one of his stories Great Expectations – and there's a big difference.
Personally, I don't think expectations are so great. In fact, I think they can be the pitfall to disappointment. Sometimes when you eagerly anticipate something, the expectation grows, and more times than not, the reality cannot live up to the hype. Here's a simple example, but you'll get the point: You hear raves about the latest comedy – it was so funny, I was hysterical, just awesome – so you run out to see it, only to sit there wondering if this could possibly be the same movie you heard so much about. The same thing happens with circumstances and events in our lives – except we create the hype. We build things up in our minds, setting ourselves up with unrealistic expectations.
Likewise, you can sometimes have expectations of unpleasant things, things you may be dreading – be it a business encounter, a personal confrontation or some future event. It's the expectations that cause the dread to grow, and let me tell you – from experience – the reality is rarely as dreadful as what you were concocting in your head. Plus, the reality only happens once, as opposed to the perpetual loop of doom that your imagination runs up until the time the incident actually comes to pass. See, here again, expectations… not so great. Truth is they almost never are.
I think the key to a peaceful existence lies in having little to no expectations. But how can you go through life like that? You can't. Expectations are inherent with living. As we go through life we're constantly experiencing things, and like it or not, those experiences set us up and mold our thoughts for the future.
I think, often times, our biggest disappointments come from other people letting us down – unfulfilled expectations. Our feelings get hurt. I'll tell you what, those blasted 'feelings' are another source of disappointment in life – that's a whole different topic, though. But to digress for just a moment, how many people do you think are on anti-depressants or abusing drugs/alcohol because of how they feel? Anyway…
Someone once said, "It's easier to please people you don't know than it is to please people you do know." I agree with that – and it's all because of expectations. We simply expect more from those we know. But – and this is a big but – do we live our lives as if those we know are expecting more from us? And then act in such a way as to fulfill those expectations? I don't think so, but just imagine the world we'd be living in if we did – wouldn't that be a pip?