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Expectations

  • People ... believe what they wish to believe, and see what they are expecting to see.

  • We find what we expect to find. We do not see the world as it is but as we are.

  • ... we generally get the evil we expect ...

  • Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand ...

  • The thing we look forward to often comes to pass, but never precisely in the way we have imagined to ourselves.

    • George Eliot,
    • "The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton," Scenes of Clerical Life ()
  • Things never come when they are expected.

  • Whatever the mind is taught to expect, that it will build, produce, and bring forth for you.

  • ... it's expectation that differentiates you from the dead. The dead, so low in their stone rows, making no demands, without desire.

  • What is destructive is impatience, haste, expecting too much too fast.

  • It would be an incalculable gain to domestic happiness, if people would begin the concert of life with their instruments tuned to a very low pitch: they who receive the most happiness are generally they who demand and expect the least.

  • Nothing is ever the same as they said it was. It's what I've never seen before that I recognize.

  • ... with them, to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect.

  • Your letter came quite as soon as I expected, and so your letters will always do, because I have made it a rule not to expect them till they come ...

    • Jane Austen,
    • letter to her sister Cassandra (1798), in R.W. Chapman, ed., Jane Austen's Letters ()
  • To think of losing is to lose already.

  • Anticipation of pleasure is a pleasure in itself.

  • ... you've always been living on prospects; for my part, I'd rather have a mole-hill in possession than a mountain in prospect.

  • It is only by knowing how little life has in store for us that we are able to look on the bright side and avoid disappointment.

  • ... no hour arrives so soon as the one we dread.

  • Anticipation is a bad sleeping draught.

  • There is no such thing as expecting too much.

  • Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.

  • But the cloud never comes in that quarter of the horizon from which we watch for it.

  • ... anticipation was the soul of enjoyment.

  • Let's face it — who ever is adequate? We all create situations each other can't live up to, then break our hearts at them because they don't.

  • Expectations are the most perilous form of dream, and when dreams do realise themselves it is in the waking world: the difference is subtly but often painfully felt.

  • Expectation ... quickens desire, while possession deadens it.

  • And now let me ask you, my friend, whether you do not think, that many of our disappointments and much of our unhappiness arise from our forming false notions of things and persons.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • to Mrs. H. Lincoln (1761), Letters of Mrs. Adams ()
  • Anticipated evils have often as much power over the mind as real ones. To guard against this imbecility of the mind an ancient Author observes 'that sufficient unto the day was the Evil thereof.'

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1780), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • Expect nothing. Live frugally / On surprise.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "Expect Nothing," Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems ()
  • Looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them.

  • The wise expect nothing, hope for nothing, thus avoiding all disappointment and anxiety.

  • You sought a bloom / and found a fruit, / You sought a spring / and found a sea, / You sought a woman / and found a soul — / you are disappointed.

    • Edith Södergran,
    • "The Day Cools" (1916), in Samuel Charters, trans., We Women ()
  • ... to diminish expectation is to increase enjoyment.

  • People hear what they want and expect to hear, not what is said.

  • ... by and large, nothing is as bad as you fear, or as good as you hope.

  • Don't raise your expectations too high. It's the surest way of being disappointed.

  • Nothing is ever so good or so bad in reality as it is in the anticipation.

    • Marie Bashkirtseff,
    • 1883, in Mary J. Serrano, trans., The Journal of a Young Artist ()
  • The expectation of an unpleasantness is more terrible than the thing itself.

    • Marie Bashkirtseff,
    • 1873 , in Mary J. Serrano, trans., The Journal of a Young Artist ()
  • Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.

  • Talk about the joys of the unexpected, can they compare with the joys of the expected, of finding everything delightfully and competely what you knew it was going to be?

  • Eyes see what they hope for.

    • Diana Cooper,
    • 1953, in Artemis Cooper, ed., The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper ()
  • ... my expectations — which I extended whenever I came close to accomplishing my goals — made it impossible ever to feel satisfied with my success.

  • To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life, and this is a softness that ends in bitterness.

  • I would rather feel the sword than behold it suspended.

  • A wild beast has no need to leap in order to promote fear.

  • People we love must be loved as they are. It is a want both of wisdom and courage on our part — a sort of drug — this wilful blindness, to blame them, because they fail our vision of them ...

  • ... being always overavid, I demand from those I love a love equal to mine, which, being balanced people, they cannot supply.


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  • Within the limits of the modern nation, history tends to repeat itself by a process of almost deliberate imitation. We know what to expect of ourselves and, by expecting, do it.

  • ... we always attract into our lives whatever we think about most, believe in most strongly, expect on the deepest level, and imagine most vividly.

  • Fear is created not by the world around us, but in the mind, by what we think is going to happen.

  • If you choose to do something, do it with your utmost. And remember, expect nothing and life will be velvet.

    • Lisa Gardiner,
    • in Pat Ross, Young and Female: Turning Points in the Lives of Eight American Women ()
  • Expectations destroy our peace of mind, don't they? They're future disappointments, planned out in advance.

  • How extraordinary people are, that they get themselves into such situations where they go on doing what they dislike doing, and have no need or obligation to do, simply because it seems to be expected.

  • Events never arrive as we fear they will, nor as we hope they will.

  • It is a terrifying as well as hopeful truth that we tend to bring into being in form whatever we fashion in thought.

  • [Upset and disappointed on her first day of kindergarten:] I thought this was going to be college.

    • Brooke Cowley,
    • in Louise Bernikow, The American Women's Almanac ()
  • Expect the worst, and you won't be disappointed.

  • To release others from the expectations we have of them is to really love them.

  • What we claim in spirit can belong to us in reality if we demand it for ourselves.

  • People are as you find them, and sometimes as you want them to be.

  • We all create expectations of what we would like to happen after a decision is made. The picture in our mind's eye might have served a valuable function in helping to make a decision. But once the decision is made, let the picture go. Since you can't control the future, the picture can create unhappiness if it's not fulfilled. Disappointment may make you miss the good that can come out of every situation in which you find yourself.

  • Our wishes never seem so little desirable as when on the verge of accomplishment; we draw back instinctively, they look so different from what we expected.

  • Disillusions all come from within ... from the failure of some dear and secret hope. The world makes no promises; we only dream it does; and when we wake, we cry!

  • Half of our sorrows come from setting exalted standards for people and then breaking our hearts when they fail to live up to them.

  • Women run on expectations, the way a car is fueled by gas. And it doesn't matter whose: unspoken assignments from parents, bosses, clients, children, and lovers crowd our calendars' borders, in ink only we can see.

  • ... it had long been her experience that the more a stranger was built up to her as a paragon, the less she liked that paragon when at last they met.

  • How tedious is time, when his wings are loaded with expectation!

  • People are only 'disappointing' when one makes a wrong diagnosis ...

    • Charlotte Mew,
    • 1917, in Penelope Fitzgerald, Charlotte Mew and Her Friends ()
  • Expectation is hope colored by fancy.

  • It's not the punch you expect that knocks you down.

  • Most people see what they want to, or at least what they expect to.

  • ... in his fairy dreams of war [Thaddeus] always made conquest the sure end of his battles ...

  • It does not matter how other people treat you. That is their lookout. The only real thing is how you treat them. Give love out, but do not worry and expect any in return, and you will be happy and contented.

  • ... I prepare myself for all disappointments by expecting nothing ...

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1822, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 1 ()
  • ... an experience is gratifying to the extent that those expectations that are aroused are also fulfilled.

  • Expectation is the springboard of achievement.

  • One of the most popular narcotics to ease the pain of economy is cherishing the belief that better days are ahead. This is both efficacious and commendable, but it sometimes turns out to be a habit-forming drug. ... Things to which you look forward too long are almost invariably disappointing when you get them, and you might die first anyway.

  • We cannot depend on change, but we can depend on surprise. However, we cannot always depend on surprise either. This keeps us on our toes.

  • I once wanted to save the world. Now I just want to leave the room with some dignity.

  • Children have an uncanny way of living up — or down — to what is expected of them.