Like Brenna — like all of us, I wager — I often expect future circumstances to affect my happiness more than they actually do. Expectations fill my thoughts. For Brenna, having to walk up this hill was sure to be terrible. We get older and our hills turn into things like relationships and finances — our imagined happiness hinged to a future always looming large with good or ill.
We have lived lifetimes that tell us better, of course. Never has the new thing made us permanently happier or sadder.¹ Even Brenna has had this experience enough to know she usually has fun after she overcomes the negative expectation.
“Our brains sometimes trick us,” I often explain to her, hoping we’re both able to observe and recognize which of our passing thoughts to indulge and which, even though normal expressions of the human condition, should be left to pass out of mind — self-awareness without self-criticism.
¹ Philip Brickman, Coates and Janoff-Bulman, “Lottery Winners and Accident Victims: Is Happiness Relative?”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1978, Vol. 36, No. 8, 917–927: pages.ucsd.edu/~nchristenfeld/Happiness_Readings_files/Cl...