We learnt recently that the onset of molars is a period that most toddler’s parents remember for a while. It is a toddler’s first experience with sustained pain over a couple of days and it is understandably hard for both the child and the parents.

During this experience, I found myself reflecting about the onset of my molars. I definitely don’t remember them. But, I’m sure that mustn’t have been easy for my parents. And, yet, I haven’t ever explicitly thanked them for my crankiness, crying fits and general annoyance (thanks mom). Neither would it have been the dominant strategy for my mom to expect me to do so.

It was then that I began to internalize one of the more fascinating lessons – and there’s no lack of competition – emerging from this parenting journey. Parenting would suck if we walked around with expectations. Parenting, like most – if not all – things we do, is a selfish act. And, having expectations is our attempt at pretending it isn’t.

Then again, this lesson isn’t really about parenting. A simple equation to understand what drives our happiness is reality over expectations. We work hard at improving the numerator by working hard on our careers and lives every day. In the race to do so, it is easy to forget that we can shape the denominator by working on our mindset.

As with all equations, it turns out that working on the denominator matters just as much.