For those who celebrate Christmas, the big day is right around the corner. Many children are eagerly counting the moments in anticipation of waking up on the 25th to colorfully wrapped toys around the tree. Inevitably, some child will open a box with the expectation of the latest video game and be surprised with a bag of tube socks. We’ve all been there.
This is very representative of life. When we have expectations, we often have disappointment. When we want an Xbox, we sometimes get Hanes. The world doesn’t always work as we would like, and our inability to accept “what is” (aka, reality), is usually what leaves us feeling let down and stressed.
In a generation of instant gratification and “fingertip access” to the world, we’ve been set up for disappointment. It’s become hard to appreciate what we have. With more, we come to expect more.
There is an endless stream of things to be disappointed about. For example, since it’s winter in Minnesota, like many others, I’m guilty of complaining about the frigid temperatures. However, we have no control over the weather (yet?), so in some ways, these circumstances can be a little easier to accept.
The really big disappointments come when we work hard to achieve something – preparing for a job interview, practicing for an audition, investing in a relationship – and it doesn’t work out as we had expected and planned. These types of disappointments can be crushing because unlike the weather, we believed that we did have control.
So, we beat ourselves up or find others to blame. Either way, we end up feeling hurt and cheated. And in life, this happens a lot. It is an inescapable part of the journey.
While the argument of how much control we actually have over any given situation is debatable, when disappointments happen, it helps to remember a quote from the Dalai Lama, “Remember that NOT getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”
Since none of us is clairvoyant, we can’t predict what the future holds. It very well may be that the job we didn’t get actually wasn’t for us, and there is a better one coming. Or, that the relationship we were grasping to really wasn’t meeting our needs.
It’s hard to know for sure, but when I choose to believe that the universe is working in my favor and that things are unfolding exactly the way they should be, I tend to be less disappointed when things don’t work out as planned. This leaves room to be more excited and curious about what’s around the next bend.
The common saying, “everything happens for a reason” isn’t always comforting in the moment (and can sometimes feel downright patronizing!). However, most of the time, the reason our life is unfolding the way it is will be revealed if we have patience and maintain faith.
So, if you get socks as a gift instead of the latest Wii release this holiday season, don’t fret. Perhaps the universe has a greater plan for you.