With Christmas and with life, how happy or satisfied we feel can depend on two relative factors: our expectations and reality (or more precisely our perception of that reality).
Public speakers and performers understand this. You can sell more tickets by promising more than you can deliver, but that’s not the secret to pleasing and satisfying your audience.
Tell them what to expect, deliver it and give them even more. Exceed their expectations.
But don’t give them everything you’ve got. If you want repeat customers, leave them wanting more.
The key to Christmas disappointment is to have expectations that are not likely to be met. If as a child you hope for that one special present (and nothing else), you’ll be unhappy when it’s not under the tree.
If as a parent or partner shopping and planning for picture-perfect holiday celebrations, you’ll be disappointed if things don’t turn out as well as you had hoped or after putting all that thought into the perfect gift, you didn’t get the reaction you expected.
This doesn’t mean we need to lower our expectations for the holidays and in life to the point of pessimism. We can still have positive expectations, but they can be tempered by the realization that though events may not unfold exactly as we plan, we will appreciate the good that we get.
The key is flexibility – to surrender our tight control and rigid expectations, to be open to the unexpected gifts we are given. You may not end up with the picture perfect partner of your fantasies, but you may be blessed by someone who loves you just the way you are.
You may not live the life of which you once dreamt, but you can appreciate the joy of opportunities, experiences and relationships beyond your wildest expectations – the greater reality you had not imagined.
If you look at the good that you have – and make the most of it, your life will exceed your expectations.