23 May, Thursday
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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Peace begins when expectation ends

Kirjoittanut: Duong Minh Hang Ho - tiimistä Satku.

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It’s been a long time since I wrote, and now writing is back as a course requirement. This reminds me of the reason why I stopped writing about my thoughts and opinions on everything I care about: education, children, relationships, health, lifestyle, and more. I used to expect that readers would agree with what I wrote. When I encountered disagreement or strong resistance from readers, I was disappointed and stopped writing. I formed the thought of writing as little as possible when faced with disagreement or resistance. Today, I not only write again but also write extensively, pouring out all my thoughts and opinions, but in a state of confiding and without expecting agreement or perfection in the essay. What a difference!

Firstly, I am truly grateful that at Proakatemia, I am encouraged to write down all my thoughts and feelings without the barriers of culture or the limitations of social values. This is a great blessing for me.

Secondly, I can certainly say that the higher the expectations, the higher the unhappiness, and the lower the expectations, the happier we are.

Do you believe me? This is not an exaggeration, please don’t misunderstand, it’s the truth!

Why can I say this? Let me start by telling you about one of my lucky encounters a year ago when I randomly listened to a podcast by Mr. Hieu Nguyen on YouTube called “Expectation – The Poison of Happiness.” The name was attractive and piqued my curiosity, so I decided to listen to it. After absorbing the core values it presented and sharing them with those around me, many situations in my life and in the lives of those I shared with became easier and happier.

In the podcast, Mr. Hieu shared that it took him a long time to realize that low expectations are the root of unhappiness through many experiments he conducted to prove this to be true. He also quoted specific sayings such as:

“The secret of happiness is low expectations.” (Barry Schwartz)

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” (William Shakespeare)

“Expectation is what kills you slowly, from the inside.” (Unknown)

Initially, I was full of curiosity and doubt. I thought, how can one progress, how can one achieve goals without expectations? Thanks to my curiosity, I continued listening until he illustrated the relationship between expectations and reality as follows:

Reality received – Expectation = Expectation Gap

The expectation he defines is the standard that we take for granted. The reality of receiving is, of course, what we receive in life, relationships, work, finances, etc. The best Expectation Gap is 0; at this point, peace will appear. If it is a positive number or larger, you can imagine how disappointed and unhappy people will be.

From here, he presents an equation as follows:


Happiness = ———————-


We can easily understand that if we get the same result when the expectation threshold is different, the feeling and experience will be different. This can also be said that if reality is something we cannot change, then expectations are the biggest impact on each of our happiness.

He points out that the source of expectations comes from three paths, and I completely agree:

  1. From the past: this is the hardest thing to recognize. For example, if a person is born and raised in a happy family, for them, a happy family is natural without knowing that in society, the number of people raised in such a happy family is a minority. This leads to when they encounter anything challenging in their marriage, they will immediately be easily disappointed, more likely to suffer, and find it more difficult to overcome the pain.
  2. Comes from standards from the surrounding environment and comparison with others: This is quite dangerous and can easily lead to us losing direction in our own lives. For example, if a person receives a $1,000 bonus and the rest of the company receives $3,000, then he will be very sad and disappointed. However, if he still receives $1,000 but other employees only receive $300, he will be very happy.
  3. Comes from our imagination: This is the most dangerous thing because imagination is unlimited. For example, movies always show us the symbolism of good relationships and dream lovers. When we regularly watch and receive them, we can easily fall into illusions and set high expectations for our partners and the current relationship. It can easily lead us to an unnecessary outcome, losing our happiness.

Since I discovered this podcast and applied its principles to my life, my life has completely changed, and I am much happier. For example, I used to have high expectations when it came to communication and always expected others to speak and behave carefully, kindly, and politely. I became irritated when others used language and behaved differently than I expected, often said, “Instead of saying it like this, you can say it like that; it will be easier to hear.” There was a specific incident that occurred in my life a few years ago involving one of my friends who interfered in my personal affairs with very impolite words. Without hesitation, I disconnected from her, despite our four-year-long friendship. Later, upon reflection, I adopted a more open perspective, realizing that I shouldn’t expect others to talk and behave exactly as I want them to. I am happy to share this perspective on expectations with those I know, hoping they can apply it to their own lives.

Writting this essay also reminds me of a time when my team was working together at Sprint Innovation. During an argument among team members, one member expressed thoughts and words similar to my past expectations. I shared a different perspective on expectations, and fortunately, the members let go of their expectations and worked together happily to achieve common goals. As a result, we emerged victorious in that competition.

I used to be someone who had extremely high expectations for myself and those around me, and it was clear that I had a hard time being happy. Now I’m on a journey of training to reduce my dangerous expectations of everyone and everything that happens around me. Although I have not yet completely controlled my expectations, understanding them and paying attention to them to know that they appear and exist has been a big step on my personal development journey.

I hope that one day soon I can control my expectations naturally, effortlessly, and instinctively. Because I will be closer to a happy and worth-living life. And I hope you do too.

If you have any thoughts or opinions you would like to share with me, please leave a comment below this article. I’m willing to talk more about this topic with you.


Thank you.

In my journey towards peace, freedom, and happiness, I'm driven by the joy of spreading these values to those around me. Every day, I strive to exceed my previous accomplishments by just 1%. When faced with challenges, I choose to see the bright side, recognizing the strengths of every individual I encounter. Embracing diversity, I firmly believe that our differences are what make our world truly beautiful.

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