Sunday, 18 December 2011

Expectations and Choices


Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"When you set your expectations too high, you are bound to be disappointed"

I happened to watch a very interesting video about choices. Today, we have a lot of choices when we are about to do something or purchase something. And while these choices may seem to be a good thing, an excess of choices creates problems. How can choices create problems? The video will answer all the questions.

However, what I wanted to talk about was expectations. As technology and society advances, the kinds of expectations that we have keep going higher and higher. I had some of these experiences personally where I have a really fast internet connection both at home and work. And on one occassion, when I had to access the internet through the mobile internet devices, like Tata Photon Plus, I found the speed pathetically poor. It is not that the speed itself is poor, because I used to have a dial up connection before broadband, and I remember clicking the button, and going to do something else while the page loads, or something else happens. And this is faster than that. But after seeing faster connections, what can actually be considered good becomes dismal.

And with high expectations and choices, we also end up spending (wasting?) a lot of time before picking something to buy. The easiest example is cell phones - When you decide to buy a cell phone, now you have to do a whole lot of computations, and pick one after comparing brands, platform, features and then depending on your budget ensure that you are getting the maximum features in your phone. So you go about asking a lot of people, reading reviews online etc. And after you buy a phone, as usual, within a short time, technology becomes obsolete and therefore that higher end phone that you had eyes on but no money comes to the price range of your phone - and you would have bought that! Had you just waited a little longer. Therefore you start getting disappointed in the choice that you made, though your choice was a good one.

I had this experience where I bought a decent phone as soon as it had released paying close to Rs. 12,000 and around seven months later, that phone is available at Rs. 7,000 from the same site from where I had purchased it. This will definitely make you sad, make you feel that you could have waited, or bought a better phone - that element of satisfaction lost. (It is a different matter that my phone went kaput in the rain and now I am using an ancient phone that can do nothing except call and sms... Well, this feeling is entirely different)

There should be varieties, and the varieties should also improve constantly, but creating too many varieties will create problems when you want to pick. Another example is Linux. I keep hearing newer and newer distributions of Linux every other day, and they also say that the whole thing is fully customisable - If you do something like this, then ensure that always provide a person default settings with recommended options so as to quickly be able to get started. I understand customisation is a great feature, but it is one helluva time consuming task, frankly.

Now that we understand too many choices is bad, why not extrapolate the same concept to politics and multi party system? People keep 'forking' out of parties and starting their own all the time. The result can be that the votes are going to be divided among every party and thereby getting fragmented... Thus forcing a need to form coalitions...

I would like to close this post on expectations - As long as you keep your expectations high, you are bound to be disappointed. I always love the quote by Lord Krishna -
Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani
 - which means, do your work and don't expect fruits. The problem with expecting something is, if you don't get it, you will be saddened. When parents expect good performance from children and when children disappoint them, the parents are disheartened, and thus the child is disheartened and then there are suicides.

Note: Yes, expecting is natural, having expectations is natural, and setting higher standards is definitely the sign of progress and advancement... But they come at a price... They always do.

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