Life is full of disappointments. Contrary to popular belief, most of them are not major. There’s a quote by Robert Fulgham that goes, “If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you have a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.” It’s a quote I often forget to remember when I face something disappointing. But I think when we’re objective and put life into a proper perspective, we are able to see that a majority of things that don’t go our way, are really mostly little disappointments. But I am willing to concede that sometimes in the moment, little disappointment can be at the very least, annoying. So how we respond to them does matter.
The following are six ways to respond:
1. Reflect. I know this seems very unpractical and I am all about taking action but sometimes we need to stop and think about how we got to where we got to in the first place. Reflecting allows us to see where we could have made a difference and where circumstances beyond our control simply got the best of us. Reflecting, in some sense, can give us closure.
2. Do something active. I know this may seem silly but exercise does give you endorphins. The mere release of emotions from being physically active is also healthy for you. Freedom from frustration in disappointments is sometimes found in a 5-mile run or an hour strength-training session or yoga or swimming or just talking a long walk somewhere.
3. Get (more) spiritual. Well, I’m Catholic so for me daily mass is pretty much available if I ever just feel my spirit is restless. Taking all the institutionalization aside, one of the places I truly find peace of mind is in church. I know people may disagree, but I think spirituality is very important, however once chooses to practice it. And when you’re disappointed, your soul needs food. Feed it.
4. Do something of service. It may seem pretentious to want to give to others when you feel disappointed. But I think serving others reminds us all that however much we think we have, we are all ultimately in want, sometimes in need. And that is humbling. Moreover, when we serve those who are not as fortunate as we are, we understand that our disappointments are really not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.
5. Take a day off. Sometimes we need a day off especially if it just seems little disappointments keep knocking us to the ground. Many of us are much stronger than we think but there are days we will have where even getting out of bed seems like too much to ask. In our go-go society, we obviously can’t have too many of these days. But if you need it, just take a day off and sleep and eat and be. You’re a human being not a machine.
6. Be with someone you love. Facing disappointments can be hard if we’re doing them alone. Whether it’s calling your parents who will always remind you of how wonderful you are or calling a good friend who you can viciously vent to or being held by a significant other, you’re reminded that whatever you’re facing, someone out there loves you and is rooting for you. And with that, take your disappointments in your stride and let them make you stronger but not bitter, better but not conceited, and always wanting to bring more love and goodness into the world despite whatever pain life’s little disappointments might have left you with.