Happiness = Expectations / Reality

Dec 3, 2020    Eric Hoffman
Most of the times you read the blog or watch one of the videos we are sharing some amazing knowledge that we have learned through our experience of reading, or we've been blessed to hear from some awesome leader. This concept is the same but I don't even remember where I first heard it. It has helped me in so many situations, so just hear me when I tell you this truth. YOUR happiness is YOUR expectation divided by YOUR reality. That may sound like an algebra problem, but if you look at your overall satisfaction in your life, it is usually based off of what expectations and goals you set for yourself, and where you are in achieving those.

Let me give you an example: I joined the Air Force with no college, in fact, before I graduated high school, I was at basic military training (long story…) So when I commissioned as an officer nearly 15 years into my career, I knew I would be looking to retire before most of my peers. When I had a plan to retire as a Captain, those around me were looking at Lieutenant Colonel, at a minimum. For me and my situation, the only thing that would equal true satisfaction was to not worry about anyone else’s expectation for me but, rather, to rest in the fact that if I retired as a 24-year captain in the Air Force, I was still so much better than I had ever thought I would be as an Airman Basic straight out of high school.

I will give you a non-military example: We all know that friend that can lose 5lbs walking around the block. While, at the same time, it takes me a month of dieting and five workouts a week to MAYBE get five pounds less on the scale. I would gain a pound just looking at sweets! Speaking of gym time I once had a friend who entered me into a bench press contest without my knowledge. We worked out together and he wanted me to bench press my personal best. I did...I set a personal best of 235lbs for one rep. I had not been lifting very long, and to me I was over the moon ecstatic. My friend was so happy that I had met that goal that he couldn't care less that he totally dominated the competition and won first place overall easily...not to mention his warm-up weight was 415 lbs!

Had either of us set an expectation that was unreachable or unmeasurable, neither of us would have been satisfied by our outcomes. And because I had set my expectations correctly, I was not the slightest bit upset that I benched well less than half of what he did by his championship round.

When you are looking at setting your expectations so you can compare them with your reality and determine your happiness, make sure you are setting YOUR expectations, not those of your family, not those of somebody else, but those of yourself. If you find yourself filling boxes along someone else's checklist to their success, whether you get that stripe, get that rank, get that promotion, get that reward...it will not mean as much to you as if you would have chased your OWN goal!

So make sure it's:
YOUR goal.
YOUR reality.

Because it's YOUR happiness.