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Mindful : February 2015
of disappointment because we can’t anticipate the unexpected consequences in life. There are often media stories about those who are miserable after winning the lottery. They are unprepared for people who try to scam them and for the reactions of friends and relatives who want a piece of the winnings. And while there may be a tremendous thrill to winning an election, politicians are exposed to myriad difficulties once they’re in office. Many successful celebrities commit suicide quite possibly because they’re not prepared for the challenges a nd disappointments that come with success. Another consequence of getting what you want is worrying that you’ll lose what you have. Bad invest- ments, the volatility of the stock markets, and all such vicissitudes of life provide lots of room for the joys of disappointment! 3 NOT KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT And then there’s the dissatisfaction of not being sure whether you want the fish or the steak or the tofu on the menu—the ongoing disappointment that arises from not being certain what you want at all. Anything you choose means that you don’t choose something else. As we’ve all hea rd, when one door closes, a nother opens, but we often worry about the door that’s about to shut. We don’t want to make the wrong choice. The very fact of having to make a choice somehow disappoints us at a fundamental level. Why can’t the thing just come to us served on a silver platter? Yet, in the long run, the funny thing about having to choose, to make up our mind, is that even the choices that don’t seem to work out well for us have the potential for personal growth. People often speak of how adversity has fueled positive changes in their lives. The value of disappointment is often easier to perceive in retrospect. Five yea rs after you don’t get your dream job, you may find yourself in a very successful career you never expected. How- ever, at the moment when we’re dealing directly with major setbacks or challenges, we need to find the strength that allows us to face disappointment without losing heart. When we feel fundamentally disappointed, it can be pa ralyzing. We heap blame onto ourselves a nd we may bla me the people we live and work with, especially our loved ones. This judgmental approach is expressed in a phrase like, “I’m so disappointed in you!” Ouch! Or we say to ourselves, “Man, I really messed up.” We feel like giving up on ourselves. We’re unworthy or unable to achieve a nything. We feel not just disappointed but discouraged, which literally means to lose our courage. → mindful practices insight February 2015 mindful 75