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The Happiness Formula: Redefining Reality and Expectations

"Happiness equals reality minus expectation" - Tom Magliozzi

I came across this quote a few weeks ago, and it's really stuck with me.

How often are we unhappy with something because it's not quite what we expected?

For many of us (including me!), this comes up a LOT.

Sometimes, despite the outcome being genuinely amazing, we overlook its greatness simply because it didn't align exactly with our expectations.

Here's a recent example from my own life, and an important reframe that opened my eyes to a new perspective where I get to be way happier with what is.

I'm taking my two daughters away for Memorial Day Weekend to Cape May, NJ. I've been so excited for this trip in part because it's our first overnight girls only trip (woo hoo!) and we've never been to Cape May.

I envisioned adventure, laughter, melty ice cream cones, and sunburned cheeks. Outdoor breakfasts, quiet strolls through town, lazy beach days collecting seashells in the warm sunshine and reading great books with our toes in the sand.

Unfortunately, the weather does not support this vision of outdoor warm, sunny weather activities that I've so carefully created....

And I was SO bummed out.

I went heavy into the story - and complained to myself and anyone who would listen about MDW traffic, better weather here, ruined plans, what are we going to do all weekend now etc...

While in the midst of complaining to a friend, she said.... "OOH! I love rainy beach days. It's so cozy! You can curl up in sweats and relax and not feel like you have to do a million things. You can shop and read and have great meals. You'll have such a great time"

Well, this was a FAR different perspective from my own!

AND - it opened my eyes to a different way of looking at the weekend.

A way of looking at it that accepted what is (cool, cloudy, a little rainy....) rather than the story I was caught up in (what a mess, I can't believe I'm driving all that way for nothing....).

This new way, the way of embracing reality rather than wishing it were different, feels miles better.

I let go of my expectations. And now I'm ready for Cape May. I'm expecting the trip to take a while; we have some fun playlists, new car games to play, and fun audiobooks to listen to.

We are packing our warmest, comfiest clothes and have big plans for sleeping late, eating chocolate croissants, sitting on the beach with a blanket and a good book, and late afternoon bike rides.


This simple reframe changed my whole outlook on the weekend and now I get to be happy with what is, rather than lamenting how it didn't turn out the way I thought it would...

It's not about everything turning out exactly the way I planned, it's about finding happiness in how it does ✨

How might this show up in your own life?

Your daughter leaving for college, a child's soccer game, your Memorial Day bbq, your summer vacation, a dinner with friends, a relationship challenge, a career concern...

How can you reframe the situation so you get to be happier with the outcome?

Remember: Happiness = Reality - Expectations ✨

BTW ~ If this idea of getting on board with what is as a path to embracing and enjoying your life more resonates with you, check out this post; Your Superpower in a Sentence for a super simple and effective reframe that you can easily incorporate into your life. It's been a game changer for me.

Wishing you a beautiful and happy unofficial start to summer - however it unfolds.

With so much love,



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