And … they lived happily ever after

Cartoons… there is something about cartoons. All children like them, we all watched them and some of us still do.

Now I realize that cartoons represent such an important way to educate!

As there are useful lessons that can be learned from them (I will write an article about that), I think there are equally damaging expectations that are wrongly set by other cartoons, fairy tales: the ones that end with “and they lived happily ever after”.

These kind of stories usually go like this: one very beautiful girl has a hard life, and after she goes through some challenges,  she meets a handsome prince that falls in love with her, he asks her to marry him and they  … of course: live happily ever after. THE END.

We see the same ending in cartoons, while growing up, but it doesn’t stop once we are adults. Because all romantic comedies and soap operas follow the same story. They all end with a kiss, with them getting back together and … of course: living happily ever after. THE END.

I think these endings are very damaging because they set false expectations. It teaches our subconscious mind that there will be a moment, THE moment, after which everything will be just perfect and we won’t have nothing else to do but to enjoy the happy life until the end. After that moment, THE moment, there won’t be any kind of problems, hardships, compromises. No, nothing like that. The marriage is actually easy … the hard part is to make him ask you to be his wife.

Of course, in real life things don’t go like that.

There are other expectations that we are set up to have: that we are special, that we are destined for greatness, emphasizing the subtle idea that it all depends on us and some day it will all be just amazing and perfect.  And once we reach the greatness we can live happily ever after. THE END.

Of course, in real life things don’t go like that.

That day, when all problems go away, never comes – because there are continuous challenges that teenagers and later on adults, couples face daily (at home and at work).  The wedding or getting the job we wanted is just the beginning of a continuous process to know your partner or your colleagues better, to understand them better, to communicate and collaborate with them better.

The bond of trust is the standing pillar of a any relationship (personal or professional), and trust and loyalty/devotion cannot happen overnight. In his book (The 5 Disfunctions of a Team, Pactrick Lancioni states that the lack of trust is the primary cause of problems in a team) . But even when the trust exists, the continuous work and effort to maintain that relation is not over.

When the challenges occur (not if, but when), we are tempted to give up, as we have the ideal picture in our minds. But there is this  picture that was inflicted starting with our childhood, that once we have a partner, once we have the job we wanted … everything will be perfect, and we’ll live happily ever after.  So, we don’t put in the effort, we walk away in the search of a different partner, job, country to be able to live happily ever after.

The series Wayward Pines summarizes the consequence of false expectation.  In the film,  Dr. Jenkins, a brilliant scientist who figured out that the world was in danger of extinction, managed to save several hundreds of people, by freezing them, in order to slowly rebuild the world hundreds of years later (by reanimate/reviving them in groups), with the hope that they’ll recreate civilization.

But things go way out of hand with the first group and his entire project is in jeopardy, he decides to kill the entire group and start all over again by reanimating a new group.

His sister, nurse Pam, tries to stop him, she wants to make him work through the challenges by telling him:



So, from my point of view, this should be the lesson that we all learn and teach the youngsters. That there will always be challenges, problems that we have to face and handle.

The question is HOW are they handled.


Daniel Goleman, in his book Emotional Inteligence, describes many studies that show the struggles, children (and later on adults) without EQ and empathy have:

– isolation and social problems

– anxiety and depression, feeling of constant fear and worry, agitation and sadness

– problems related to paying concentration and thought.

– sense of victimization that often leads to aggressive behavior.

So, instead of setting false expectations, let’s build abilities that help facing challenges through developing emotional intelligence, empathy, resilience which will increase the transparency and trust.



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