and say, "So what?" It isn't reasonable to expect us to know calculus
without the course.
Disappointment means falling short of achieving one's goals or wishes.
This is clarified by William James's 1890 formula:
If you get about what you expected, i.e. accomplishments equal
expectations, you will be happy. But the formula also suggests that
unhappiness may result in two ways: (l) failing to reach reasonable
goals (accomplishments) or (2) setting unreasonable, impossible goals
(expectations). The latter is a complex problem. Our society
encourages aiming high--"try to be the best." Many people want to be
better than average, certainly not be "below average." Yet, by the
nature of mathematics, exactly half of us must be below average in
intelligence, looks, and income as well as height. No wonder some of
us "below average" people withdraw from the competitive "rat race."
Sometimes it's wise to lower our expectations and avoid unreasonable
demands, but when?
It isn't a simple matter of lowering our sights so we never fail and,
consequently, become blissfully happy. First, some accomplishments
(relative to your potential) are necessary for self-esteem (see chapter
14). Second, some people take satisfaction from having a dream--
some inspiration--and striving for it day by day, even though they
never reach their goal. Others have a lofty dream--being president, an
astronaut, a professional athlete--but neglect the detailed, daily work
of accomplishing that dream. Having the dream provides some
payoffs. Dreamers run the risk of being disappointed and self-critical
Fred Astaire was told "he can only dance a little;" Beethoven--"hopeless as a composer;"
Caruso--"he can't sing;" Disney--"has no ideas." Great talent may often go unrecognized.