When expectations are high, the best we can hope to do is match them. When expectations are lower, matching them is easier and exceeding them is possible. By lowering expectations and keeping expectations modest, the downturn may actually enable people to derive satisfaction from activities and possessions that would previously have been disappointing. Managing expectations is a crucial determinant of well-being, and the downturn may be managing our expectations for us.
This is good advice for almost everyone working in government jobs. As the article notes (in a different context), "They may seek what is good about their institution, and be grateful for it, instead of noticing the ways their institution falls short, and resenting it."