I was reading this over the weekend; the economic theory that, “happiness equals reality minus expectations”. According to Rakesh Sarin and Manel Baucells this is a fundamental reality we all need to keep in mind in order to maintain a sense of well-being and keep disappointment at bay.
Like all good theories, is deceptively simple. It may sound obvious but I bet expats have suffered more than most, precisely because we get over-excited at the thought of taking our lives in a new direction; one where we’re able to learn new languages, begin to understand another culture, gain a promotion, spend more time with our kids or whatever fantasy life we imagine we’ll find on the other side of the world.
I’m certainly guilty of it, particularly in thinking that you can leave problems behind, that they won’t turn up, unwelcome and unbidden, demanding you address them as you unpack and attempt to set up a new life in a new country.
It’s no secret that I’ve struggled since we left Asia, struggled to accept that this is where we find ourselves, in contrast to our earlier dreams and plans. I have often failed to see anything positive about life in Brussels when there are plenty of positives to appreciate if only I take the time to see and acknowledge them. I’m also aware, though, that it is precisely my lack of expectations that have led me to see the surprising good. Brussels is not an ‘obvious’ city, it is not big enough to be and being obvious goes 100% against the Belgian psyche. As an expat here, you have to really search things out and this requires patience, a sense of humour and often some imagination.
But, this has been a good week. Things are looking up. Change is on the horizon. Change that would extend our stay here certainly for the next two or three years. And, for once, that is OK with me.
My no expectations outlook may be about to deliver.