Expectation v/s Reality: Is The Stress Robbing Your Happiness?

Last Update on April 6, 2021 : Published on April 6, 2021
The Expectation vs reality trap

Living in a society full of expectations could be very stressful where people want us to be flawless in our work, act flawlessly with our partners, perform parental duties without a fail or act rightly with our friends.

And surprisingly, we act vigorously to reach that bar so that the world is more accepting, friendly and loving to us. But in all the hustle and bustle of expectation vs reality, are you happy inside?

If we see the reality of life, we know that everyone has a unique set of traits to live their own life. You would understand that flawlessness doesn’t show the whole story and there is a wide gap between our expectations and reality.

In fact, a novel written by Charles Dickens called, ‘Great Expectations’, showed that the main character was expecting so many big things in life that he totally forgot about beautiful relationships and gifts that he already had before. His own set of expectations made him forget reality.

The Research

Various studies have shown that people often forget to appreciate what they already possess while dreaming about the bigger picture.

A study was conducted where a group of people were reminded about wealth and were given chocolate along. It was noticed that they couldn’t enjoy their chocolate as much as they should have as imagination of wealth and other possibilities were running in their minds.

Whereas the other group wasn’t reminded of life’s bigger expectations but only the chocolate (things that they are enjoying in present). This study was a very small gap between examples of expectation and reality which is backed up by the thoughts of our mind.

The Stress Of Expectation vs Reality

Stress Of Expectation vs Reality

Our expectations are great to a point when we keep it limited in a given situation. For example, a mother expecting her child to look like an Instagram baby, a wife wishing to see her husband like an action movie star or the job expected to pay as much as Netflix’s Suits. However, if any of these expectations doesn’t touch the reality then it becomes a cause of stress.

The stress of expectations have even seen a rise in the world of social media, studies suggest. This stress could be so intense that there are signs like:

A Mismatched Comparison of Expectation and Reality With Examples

Comparison of Expectation and Reality


  • My career will give me complete personal satisfaction.
  • My husband or wife will respond in a certain way and will only make me happy
  • My house will be settled near the sea or under the mountain block
  • I will retire after the age of 65 and live peacefully in a friendly senior community.
  • My kids or grandkids will visit me every Christmas and cookies would be baked together.


  • I am not very happy with my job and may need to change it as per the work conditions.
  • Husband and wife are different personalities and may not completely understand each other every single time.
  • One may not be able to live upto 65 due or fight with conditions like cancer, disabilities or other mental health problems.
  • The kids may or may not visit on Christmas due to coronavirus pandemic or cancellation of flights at the last moment.
  • My house is neither near the sea nor in the foothills of a mountain but wherever it is, it is a heaven for me.

How To Bridge The Gap Between Expectation and Reality?

Awareness: As we understand that our moods are directly affected by our mental expectations, a few awareness questions may help you to keep a healthy boundary within. For example, you are entering in a new relationship then ask yourself:

  • What do you expect from this relationship?
  • Are your expectations realistic? If no, where and how did they come from?
  • Even if you are disappointed, get back into reality and try managing your expectations according to real will.

1. Stop The Comparison:

Usually, social media or PDA by your friends make you feel that you are in an awkward state without similar clothes, relationships or travel plans. Remember, you never know the reality behind any human being. So comparing your life with anyone else could only raise the gap between your real and imaginative life.

2. Management Of Expectations:

Now this is really important! It is actually your awareness which helps in managing your expectations. We are not saying that you should completely not expect anything because after all, it’s simply not so easy! However, becoming aware of what you ‘should’ be expecting is a better idea.

You may find disappointments throughout this management process between expectation vs reality but once you get over it, a clear picture of what you wanted and what you possess becomes clear. You become more appreciative of what you already have!

Remind yourself of reality instead of estimating your happiness level with others. What you are seeing may not be real for them, make sure you don’t dive into another stream. Buying expensive cars, having a 24*7 rosy relationships or wearing classy clothes is not always true, and is not even long-lasting.


Stop beating yourself with disappointment. The only person you should be comparing yourself is you. Maybe you can try to sit somewhere in peace or meditate for a few minutes everyday to draw a line between expectations and reality.

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About The Author

Akanksha Soni
Akanksha Soni

Akanksha is an active lifestyle blogger and writer at Calmsage. She has learnt various lessons on happiness and methods to fight depression through 'Gurus' as well as own experiences. An ardent practitioner of Yoga and meditation, she keeps traveling, writes and interacts with people to feel alive.

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