“Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”

– Alexander Pope

Meaning of the quote

Here is the quote in its full context (bold emphasis added):

Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed” was the ninth Beatitude which a man of wit (who, like a man of wit, was a long time in gaol) added to the eighth.

Many of our disappointments in life are a product of our own expectations. By the setting of our expectations, we, ourselves, set the required standard for happiness. Thus, if this standard is not achieved, then we are unhappy and disappointed.

However, when we set no expectations, and accept life as it comes, then we remove this gauge of happiness from the equation. When we accept that things are what they are and will be what they will be, then no matter how things turn out, they will have no detrimental effect on us because we have expected nothing. In fact, we may be even pleasantly surprised.

Origin of the quote

This quote comes from a Letter, written in collaboration with John Gay, to William Fortescue (23 September 1725).

He also made this same quote in another letter to John Gay (16 October 1727):

“I have many years magnify’d in my own mind, and repeated to you a ninth Beatitude, added to the eight in the Scripture: Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” (Bold emphasis added)

About Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) is best known for his satirical verse and is considered one of the greatest English poets of the eighteenth century. He is second only to Shakespeare as the second-most frequently quoted writer in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. His satire and criticisms made many enemies throughout his career. He was instantly popular and came to fame with his 1711 work “An Essay on Criticism.”