Happiness equals Reality minus Expectations

Posted by Luke McMeeken-Ruscoe on

Rakesh Sarin and Manel Baucells were on to something, or maybe Tom Magliozzi said it. The internet can't decide but it really rings true for me. 


I know that when I don't shave for a while that I am in a funk. It's my sort of middle finger to the world that I can't be bothered, if you guessed I haven't shaved in a while you guessed right. 

I was in a little existential funk recently. Who am I? What am I doing? How did my life turn out this way? You know, the usual. And I think it all stems from Happiness equals Reality minus Expectations. I have been expecting too much for myself, others, and the universe. 

Despite my best efforts, things just haven't been falling my way. The dice roll of the gods has not been in my favour. 

Growing up in the world of athletics and academics, the world is very black and white. You hit the shot, you missed the shot. You got an A, you got an F. You know the rules for the most part unless you have an unscrupulous ref or teacher. you understand how to play the game.  I once had a referee who had a nephew in the opposing team. Needless to say, I came away very bruised. 

Life, is a little more grey. 


I don't see the funks as a bad thing. I think, we humans, are meant to have our ups and downs. The downs make the ups feel better. I think the world projected through social media that everyone is happy and everything is perfect is harmful. 

Sometimes we feel good because of something that happened and sometimes we just feel good. The same can be said for the down moments. It is the natural part of being alive. It is the emotional wave we ride. 


The answer I found, like most things, is work. Not in the protestant work your sins away, idle hands situation, but work in the sense of creating moments of accomplishment. 

I went back to just worrying about what I could control (I tried to focus on that at least, with varying degrees of success.) What were the things I could control? 

I could control my reading. I would aim for a chapter and once I started I would read two or more. 

I could control my sleep. I put down my phone earlier and stopped being on my laptop and got to bed sooner and have been getting more sleep. 

I could control my emails. I tried to clear 20 and ended up getting through over a 100 emails. 

I just set up achievable goals that I could do, the challenge wasn't in the doing, it is in the starting. Once I started the sense of accomplishment helped pull me through. I haven't changed the world in any large way, but changed my world slightly. 

I still struggle with the expectations of others. I have had interactions where I don't think the other side is considering the situation in front of them correctly and I struggle with how to deal with them. It's one of my many work on's.

But currently, I am clean-shaven and soon I am going to see some Kiwi's get released into the wild. So forgive yourself for your ups and downs and just work on the things you can control. 


I would love to tell you all that Straightface is my full-time job, but as I still need to work to pay the bills, so tell your friends about Straightface 😁 and then one day I can work on this full time.

So I am very happy that I am currently contracting with a business, who like any business, is so neck-deep in the day to day that they struggle to look up and see what is ahead of them. 

The conversations with them about their situation hasn't gone to plan. They don't see the same reality that I see. Professor Scott Galloway asked - should you be right, or should you be effective, the answer is yes. 

Explaining my thought process, I think I am right, but I am not effective at getting them on board. This has been exacerbated by expectations, see above. 

Marcus Aurelius said nearly 2000 years ago: " The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way."

This creates gratitude for me by giving me another opportunity for me to control my expectations and practice my influence so hopefully, I can create a better outcome for the business I am working with. And if I don't achieve that, then to have at least learnt something from the activity. 

Shave well, be awesome, be kind to yourself, focus on yourself and your work, 



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