Saturday, March 13, 2010

Expectation is the Root of all Heartache

I have a new favorite app for my iPhone...Shakespeare quotes. You can do one a day, or you can shake the phone and get a new one anytime you feel like it. Some days, I limit myself to one. Other days, I just keep shaking.

I took a class in college devoted entirely to the works of Shakespeare, and I enjoyed it. I think maybe I was too young then to really appreciate the man's genius. Forget the lyrical combination of words and the plots we've been rehashing for 400 years. Shakespeare had the soundbite mastered before it was even invented.

I'm amazed at how often a single line taken out of context makes me stop and ponder. Take the title of this blog post.

Expectation is the root of all heartache.

Of course it is. The very definition of heartache is when reality fails to live up to one's expectations. We don't often think of heartache that way, but there it is...

Does that mean if I lower my expectations, I can avoid heartache? Probably. Should I lower my expectations to avoid heartache? Probably not.

Heartache beats expectation out of some people. They experience something so painful they're unwilling to expect very much out of love, work, family, friends, or anything else that gives life meaning. Expectation is risky.

However, if expectation is the root of all heartache, then it's also the root of all joy, right? Heartache happens when reality doesn't live up to expectation. Sometimes, reality meets or even exceeds expectation. So, while expectation is risky, it's also absolutely necessary for happiness. How can reality exceed our expectations if we don't have any?

Deep thoughts on a Saturday, courtesy of a shake of my iPhone.


  1. I agree with Shakespeare...because I have lived it. But I think the defining difference between whether we experience joy or from what source does our expectation come? Is it in others, ourselves, or the simple goodness of life. The only thing I have found to help with this not expect anything from others and you will not only not be disappointed when you are let down...but you will also be delighted when they come through. Expectations in ourselves is much of the same thing....and starts with a critical honest self assessment with acknowledged limitations. But the goodness of know that things are working out and unfolding just as they are suppose believe that ultimately everything will come together for the greater that there is no disappointment. Only hope...

  2. Thank you, Anonymous. I only wish you could depart some additional pearls of wisdom for me as I crawl from this rabbit hole...m

  3. Sorry, but that's a misquote. Shakespeare never wrote that line. It's always best to verify the source before posting. Any alleged quote that does not identify the actual source, just a suspected author, should be treated as a mis-attribution.

  4. Interesting. I went looking for the source and found plenty of quotation sites attributing it to Will,but no citation of the actual source. I took the Shakespeare quote app at face value. Thanks for the heads-up. Regardless of the original source, my comments on the quote stand.

  5. Expectation is the Root of all Heartache... Only when we have expectation on other sources.. Always have expectation on your self... Blaming yourself for being unsuccessful not easy.

  6. Great comments irregardless of the issue with the quotation Kathy! It made me reelect deeply on the expectations I place ok people and experiences.

    You weren't shooting totally blind either. Shakespeare never actually used those specific words but it's a common misquotation (kinda the same gist). The actual quote is this:

    "Oft expectation fails, and most oft there where most it promises."
    -All's Well That Ends Well