13 April 2005

My Dad's Equation: S=R/E

I don't remember the first time my dad shared this equation (S=R/E) with me, but it has been a topic of conversation many times over the years and it has helped shape my understanding of life ever since. I'd put this right up there with that other elegent, simple, illuminating equation E=MC^2.

Here's what it means: Satisfaction equals reality over expectations.

Go ahead and take a minute to run through the implications. When things work out better than you expect (i.e. when reality exceeds expectations), your satisfaction level increases, no? And when they don't turn out the way you'd expect, disappointment sets in, which is another way of saying satisfaction decreases. At the extreme, as your expectations approach zero, satisfaction approaches infinity (not that I'm recommending zero'ing out expectations - not sure that's possible or wise).

This equation also shows why perfectionists are so dissatisfied (and why perfectionism is so pointless) - there will always be a mismatch between expectation and reality if you expect perfection.

So the question is, which parts of the equation can you adjust? Can you change your reality? Can you change your expectation? In my experience, the answer to those two questions is sometimes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Maj. W.
..... excellent article,quote and algebraic formula, and practical application to real life..... I bet your Dad is proud of you.....the 'other' answer to your last question? Both! You can change either 'reality' or 'expectations' but we Americans don't like to lower our expectations.....good job....Dad