The Power of Positive Expectations

The Power of Positive Expectations

Want to know what’s important for happiness?

Well, although money and status, possessions and success can play some role, they’re nowhere near as significant as most people think.

Much more important are internal factors, such as thoughts and beliefs, expectations and assumptions, as well as certain “external” variables such as the quality of our relationships and the extent to which we feel we’re connected.

In this article, by Dan Tomasulo via Psychology Today, the role of expectations is explored so read on to learn more …


  • Your expectations can determine your experience.
  • What you pay attention to changes your perception.
  • You can change both expectations and attention to increase happiness and well-being.

“What you see reflects your thinking, and your thinking but reflects the choice of what you want to see.” –A Course In Miracles

We live in a world that operates much like an echo chamber. What goes out comes back to us over and over again. If you think about how the world looks and feels to you when you are in a good mood—and when you are in a sour mood—you’ll have a sense of how this works. It begins with what you put out. If we are joyous, hopeful, or grateful, we see joy, hope, and gratitude. If we are uncertain, anxious, and hopeless, we see through goggles that present a world of despair. Our expectation of what is to come does the job of interpreting the world for us. Our reaction then loops into a confirmation bias. This means we will experience the world as expected. Our beliefs and expectations about what is to come get confirmed by our experience. There is a loop. It is bidirectional—meaning that the interpretation creates the experience confirming the interpretation. It’s almost as if we are responding to a form of self-hypnosis. Good or not-so-good, you put what you believe you are experiencing into the world, and the world will confirm it.

In researching Learned Hopefulness: The Power of Positivity to Overcome Depression, I found studies beautifully demonstrating this fact. Research using hypnosis shows how powerful expectations are. In one study, subjects were hypnotized and told they would be touched very briefly with a lump of hot coal. The researchers then touched the subjects with an ice cube. Immediately the participants formed a blister where they were touched.[ii] Anticipating something bad would happen put them in a state where they felt they had to protect themselves—even when there was no need to—and there were consequences. This power of expectation also works protectively. Under hypnosis, subjects allergic to various substances were found able to inhibit a reaction when told they would not be affected.

In these studies, the stimulus was perceived differently based on what was expected. An ice cube can cause a blister if it is expected to burn us, and an allergic reaction can be neutralized if the allergen is perceived as harmless. How we expect something will deeply influence how we respond. This is particularly true when we think about our future. What we expect is what we detect—what we believe, we perceive.

To demonstrate …

… keep reading the full & original article HERE