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We have all experienced disappointments in our lives and likely will face a few more before it is over.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines disappointment as “unhappiness from the failure of something hoped for or expected to happen”.   That sounds simple but there are some intricate parts to dissect in order to have a full understanding.

Let’s break it down into smaller pieces:

  1. Unhappiness is a choice.  We often look for someone or something to blame for our state of mind but when it comes right down to it, we either choose how we will respond to life or vulnerably put control of our emotions in the hands of others.  Over the years I have met many people who appear to have a multitude of blessings and yet they are miserable.  On the other hand, there are people who seem to have unending problems who are very happy.  It is all about perception and choice.
  2. Failure can also be viewed from different viewpoints. I remember hearing the speaker at my grandson’s convocation use the first four letters of this word to describe the way that she interprets not succeeding.  She said that to her FAIL is just a “first attempt in learning”.  You only fail if you quit trying.
  3. Something hoped for might not have any reasonable or rational basis. Perhaps you are hoping for something but not willing to do anything to make it occur.  There is an old expression that states “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride”.  Hoping without a plan, action, or research can led to disappointment.
  4. Expectations are similar to hopes although often they come in the form of promises from others. When someone leads you into a belief that you will receive something, you might just be deceived.  Be discerning about the promises that others give you.

So, if you are feeling disappointed what can you do?  Here are a few tips:

  1. Decide to focus on today and not become anxious about tomorrow.
  2. Think about all the things around you for which you can give thanks.
  3. Decide what things you want to change and can change with some planning and effort.
  4. Write out a list of goals that follow the SMART formula (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound).
  5. Choose the one goal that you want to tackle first.
  6. Commit to doing one thing a day towards achieving that goal.
  7. Consult with people who have been successful in that area and learn from them.
  8. Forgive yourself and others when things don’t work out as expected or promised.
  9. Keep learning and moving forward.
  10. Congratulate yourself at the end of each day for your efforts.

And always remember the wise words of David Rudisha, the Kenyan Olympic and World champion runner:  “Sometimes when you get disappointment it makes you stronger.”

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