The secret of happiness? LOWER your expectations: A good day is when things are going better than expected

The secret of happiness may be to not expect too much from life.

For if you start off with low expectations you could end up pleasantly surprised, according to a scientific study into human happiness.

British scientists found that day-to-day wellbeing does not reflect how well things are going, but whether things are going better than expected.

The ‘ebb and flow’ of mental happiness – the way our mood shifts moment-to-moment – is profoundly impacted by our expectations of life, they suggest.

Dr Robb Rutledge of University College London said his team were surprised to find just how important expectation is.

He said: ‘It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower.

‘We find that there is some truth to this – lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.’

But his team of researchers, who tested their theory on 18,000 people, also discovered a converse force affects our mood.

While low expectations can make us happy if they are exceeded later, having high expectations to begin with make us happy earlier.

Dr Rutledge said: ‘Expectations also affect happiness even before we learn the outcome of a decision.

The results confirmed that people who started off with lower expectations were happier when they had better results.

The authors wrote: ‘Conscious emotional feelings, such as momentary happiness, are core to the ebb and flow of human mental experience.

‘Our computational model suggests momentary happiness is a state that reflects not how well things are going but instead whether things are going better than expected.

‘This includes positive and negative expectations, even in the absence of outcomes.’

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top