The key to happiness could be low expectations. And research backs it up.
NBC News is reporting on a new study done at the University College in London, Researchers there found that it didn't matter so much whether things were going well. It mattered whether they were going better than you expected.
Dr. Robb Rutledge of University College says "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.”
Dr. Rutledge says that DOESN’T mean you should walk around gloomy all of the time. Having expectations at all — for example, a lunch date with a friend — can lift your spirits as soon as you make the plan.
But if you are looking forward to greatest meal of your life, that could result in feeling pretty disappointed.
In the study, subjects made decisions that led to financial gains or losses, while their brain activity was being monitored by an MRI machine.
The researchers found that it was not the amount of total money won that mattered — it was how winning or losing stacked up to expectations you had already formed.
Eventually these findings might be able to help doctors predict how people with mood disorders might react to the small wins and losses of everyday life.
When I read about this study it reminded me of what the apostle Paul had to say about contentment:
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
You can read more about that in Philippians, chapter 4.
I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.