The Joy of Disappointment

September 20, 2016




Many of us have been told in younger years to “Get used to disappointment, kid.” Maybe we've even offered this sound advice to our own kids! What a sad reality, right? What about our pursuit of happiness, positivity, and feeling great? We’ve all felt it; that sinking feeling that slouches our shoulders, sucks out our energy, brings about a frown, and causes us to question what went wrong. Sometimes it is a simple change in circumstance we are hoping for. Other times the desired outcome is an impact in the course of life events that we have worked so very hard to achieve.


When things don’t work out the way we plan we can become derailed; even sidelined from our lives for a while. Our thoughts can be consumed by this disappointment as we feel the sadness that has been brought on, or by thoughts and calculations of what to do next. Snapping out if it can seem next to impossible in the moment.


I found  myself in this situation recently. Something I had been working toward, and putting time, energy and hard work into did not come to fruition. I spent quite a bit of time that day wondering what went wrong, even questioning who or what was to blame so that I could make sense of it all.


Being the problem solver I am, I struggled not being able to identify the spot that needed correction or refocus. However, we  don’t always need the to know all of the details of a problem to work on the solution, especially if the cause of the problem is outside of our control. The solution is in how we perceive the problem.


For my particular situation, I was again reminded that the success of all my endeavors does not rest on my shoulders alone. I work on multiple teams in both my professional and personal life, as many of us do. There are so many factors to any one condition. Success is a group effort.  The result I was hoping for was simply not going to happen at this time. So where’s the joy in that?


Perspective is how we look at things and understand them. Changing perspective is not always easy as we are often well set in our ways and how we view our world; our personal life philosophy, faith or general beliefs. Whether one believes that all events are destined by the Universe or the higher power in which one believes, that we are in complete control of our own destiny, or a combination of both, perspective impacts how effective we are at moving on.


One perspective may be that when one door closes another opens, or things that don’t work out just weren’t meant to be, or that it’s not the right time. Maybe a different set of conditions down the road will be even better in the long run. We can also view an unsuccessful outcome as that it just wasn’t going to work, so let’s scrap this idea and move ahead in a completely different way. Sometimes when something doesn’t work out it saves us future trouble, like being late or getting stuck at a red light but escaping an accident in the intersection.


Any of these perspectives work because they all result in forward movement. We all get knocked down from time to time. What matters is how quickly we get back up and carry on in a positive way. Even as I write these words I think about those situations where focusing on the positive is easier said than done. However, it helps me to remember that regardless of the situation, focusing on the negative, the disappointment or the derailment will only keep me stuck, and might even move me backward.


We are human and we react to our world, events and interactions. We have feelings which are all natural. So, allow ourselves to feel the hurt for a while. We should feel the pain, it’s a real emotion. However, how we respond to those circumstances and feelings determines how well we move forward and get on with our lives. Acknowledging that disappointment is important, but focusing on the potential new or better experiences ahead will guide us back on track and support a positive and productive life.


Experience the disappointment. Look to new unlimited possibilities. Move forward. Spread the joy.



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© 2014 by Wendy P. Jones.