BRENT STOLLER

Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

The Unspoken Secret of Happiness

Expectations.

We all have them. It’s part of the human experience.

They’re always there, constantly shaping how we feel and how we view the world.

They can make us laugh or cry or vomit.

They help define what we think is good, and what we think is bad.

They determine if we’re satisfied or saddened.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it in this space, but I am a huge Texas Longhorns football fan.

It was part of my childhood, and has become part of who I am, no matter how silly an endeavor I rationally recognize it to be.

In 2008, UT went 12–1, placed second in their conference and finished No. 3 in the rankings.

In 2009, they went 13–1, won their conference, played for the national title and finished No. 2 in the polls.

As a fan, the 2008 team was infinitely more enjoyable to follow, despite the fact that they won fewer games and championships and ended the season with a lower ranking.

Why?

Because not much was expected of the 2008 team. But they got on a roll and reached the top of the rankings before a late-season, last-second loss to Texas Tech. (I can’t hyperlink it…it’s still too painful.)

Conversely, much was expected of the 2009 team. Despite winning their first 13 games, they seldom performed up to expectations, making the season feel like a disappointment, even when they won.

The point?

Expectations drive everything.

And while we have no choice but to have them, the question becomes:

How can we seize control over them?

I don’t know. I haven’t figured that out yet.

But I do know if I can find an answer to that question, I’ll find myself one step closer to happiness.

Any suggestions?

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