Disappointments can be major stumbling blocks because they’ve come to represent the antithesis to hope. When things don’t go as expected or planned or dreamed, we tend to think that we should lower our expectations, lose hope, expect less. I think this is wrong. Disappointment is a grey area. It’s neither black nor white. It’s an unexpected chapter in an otherwise really good book. When you read a book you think ahhh this story is getting really good. “Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess who was good to everyone. One day she met a magic frog who said that because she was so good to everyone she could have three wishes. Two seconds before she uttered her first wish however, the frog croaked and died.” Shitty story….or is it? Skip ahead 5 chapters and the three wishes she planned on wishing for came true anyway. Here are some ways to manage those unexpected chapters.
1) Realize That Sometimes You Are a Character in Someone Else’s Lesson
Sure, it sucks to be the beotch for someone else’s lesson BUT oftentimes people are attracted to something that they want to possess or lack in themselves. Alternatively, sometimes people disappoint you because you were hoping they were a mirror for something you value or like about yourself. Everyone is fighting their own inner battle. Next time someone disappoints you, take it as an opportunity to count your blessings, reaffirm your values, and fall in love with the best aspects of yourself.
2) Read A Few Life-Changing Books
Disappointment? There’s a book for that. I think every major life disappointment has a corresponding read. Some of these are admittedly a bit on the cutesy side but the content is still relevant and practical.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Redirect: The Surprising Science of Psychological Change by Timothy Wilson
The Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte
Relationships (not just romantic):
You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen
Meeting Your Half-Orange by Amy Spencer
Just Your Type by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger
The Social Animal by David Brooks
StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Drive by Daniel Pink
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman
3) Calm the Fuck Down
There is this awesome website called calm.com. There are tons of meditation apps, sites, etc. out there but I highly recommend this one. It’s meditation for people who shrink at the word meditation. Visit the site and I promise you’ll immediately feel better. There is a free app as well. When you can clear your mind you can move away from the mental frustration of disappointment.
4) Be a Dog
You ever notice dogs savor everything. Anytime they eat, even if it’s the same damn food everyday, they eat it like they’ve never had a bowl in their life. When you come home after being away for 30 minutes they greet you like they haven’t seen you in days. They bliss the fuck out when you rub their belly. They find amusement and focus in the simplest things….like throwing a ball, a bee on a flower, unpeed on hydrants. And whenever you see a dog you can’t help but smile. Be a dog in life. When faced with disappointments, remember that there are so many happy little things to savor.
5) Get Out There
Travel, workout, paint, draw, write, eat, make someone laugh, develop a rapport with your favorite cashier, wave to the garbage man, find three awesome things in a traffic jam/on the metro, dream about your future, develop a soundtrack for your life, jump on the bed, go skydiving, visit an amusement park, learn a new skill. Get out there. There is so much more life to be had, disappointment is just a minor blip. What do you want to look back on in 20 years, your disappointments or your adventures?