Great Expectations and the Sweet Spot

I read, or more than likely misread, an article recently that British researchers had developed an equation that expressed human happiness. Although the formula is much more complicated, what it boils down to is this: when your reality exceeds your expectations, you are happy. So, of course, the pessimist in me extrapolated that “generally happy” people are those with typically low expectations.

But, obviously, that generalization can’t be true. It would mean that optimists would have their positivity eventually ground down to a nub. There has to be a qualitative element to happiness too. Those who expect more from life and whose expectations are surpassed should be happier than those who set the bar lower. At least that’s what I tell myself. I love the feeling of anticipation and potential – planning the next issue of the magazine or live event, contemplating my annual trip to Las Vegas, training to be a spinning instructor (I passed my practical exam today) or even posing for new headshots (see above).

I would like to be happier in general, but after 48 years as a “glass half-empty” guy I have no expectations that I will be (I’m only half-joking here). The flip side is that if I didn’t expect a lot from myself, I’d have no real drive to excel. And I would never want to give up that part of my personality. The key, which I struggle with on a daily basis, is finding balance; that “sweet-spot” which lies somewhere elusively between relaxed serenity and that grasping drive to perfection. I don’t expect that I’ll ever be easy-going and content, but I do think that I can learn to take more pleasure in the results of my hopes and plans…some day. So perhaps I’m a closet-optimist. Shh. Don’t tell anyone.

I think that the September issue of Tonic will surpass your expectations. Bryce Wylde writes about natural treatments for ADHD (p. 27). Carlyle Jansen talks about the challenges of having a fulfilling sex life after kids (p. 49). Joel Thuna and Claude Gallant discuss the pros and cons of six healthy alternative sweeteners (p. 34) and Rod MacDonald writes on the six criteria for finding the right personal trainer for you (p. 37). As always if you want to discuss Tonic, please feel free to contact me at

Categories: Publisher’s Note