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Less Disappointment {Day 9}

31 Days of Less & More

This is Day 9 of our 31 Days of Less & More challenge.  To read all the posts in order, start with Day 1, then visit the Overview Page to see the entire series.  

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Thy fate is the common fate of all; into every life a little rain must fall.  Some days must be dark and dreary. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For weeks I built it up.  It’s going to be great, I told her, and you’ll have SO much funMs. Dawn is the nicest teacher ever and you’ll make so many friends.  You get to do crafts and have circle time and play on the playground.  You are going to love school so much!

And off she went, excited as any little girl could be, to her first day of preschool.  She literally couldn’t wait to go, and why not?  In my attempt to generate enthusiasm I had raised her expectations sky high.

Is it any surprise, then, that the reality of preschool for an active four-year-old, of having to follow rules and sit quietly and share wasn’t everything she had imagined it would be?  Is it any surprise that she was disappointed?

It’s not just our children that we create unrealistic expectations for; we do it to ourselves as well. We build up our anticipation for events or holidays or career promotions or other people, and then are inevitably disappointed when something doesn’t happen the way we thought it would.

While my daughter’s first week of preschool didn’t quite live up to the hype I had created, she did keep going back each day.  She began to accept it, and then even look forward to it, and after the first month all initial disappointment had been completely forgotten.

The reality is that life is full of disappointment, and that there will always be discouraging dark spots threatening to steal our joy. People don’t come through when they should, big events are a let-down, and life doesn’t always turned out as planned.  Our best friend reneged on a promise.  Our carefully planned party was a bust.  That promotion we were hoping for went to someone else.  Our husband completely forgot our anniversary.  Our child didn’t make the team.

While it might seem like pessimism is the answer, it’s not.  Becoming pessimistic about life only gives us permission not to try, which means we are defeated before we even begin.  No, the secret is not to lower our expectations, but instead refuse to be deterred by the moments that let us down.  When we are willing to accept the fact that disappointment is sometimes inevitable, we give ourselves permission to quit wallowing, to learn from the experience, and move on.  And it is in the moving on that we find all the joy and wonder that life has to offer.

Be sure to read Edie’s corresponding post, More Wonder.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: 

Think of a recent disappointment you’ve experienced.  Maybe someone let you down or something you really wanted to happen didn’t.  How did you respond to the disappointment?  Did it make you want to give up or work harder?  How could you turn that disappointment into an opportunity for growth?

Next, think of the last time you did something as simple as sit down with your child to read a favorite fairy tale or watch the sunset or even stargaze with your favorite person.  Take some time today to enjoy the miracles of everyday life.  When you open your eyes to see them, they are everywhere.

31 Days of Less & More, Day 9:  Less Disappointment.  Join this month long, life-changing challenge to fill your life with less heartache but more joy, less stress but more peace, and less stuff but more contentment.

Finally, be sure to check out Crystal’s great insight on Less Judgement/More Acceptance from  yesterday’s post.

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Have you been disappointed lately?  Did it make you want to give up or work harder?  On the flip side, are you allowing yourself to see the everyday miracles all around you?  

10 Comments

  1. Holly
    October 9 at 09:28AM

    “The secret is not to lower our expectations but instead refuse to be deterred by the moments that let us down.” Love that! Loving this series. Thanks.

  2. October 9 at 10:28AM

    Oh my goodness! How do you do it? This post came at such a perfect time. I swear God is speaking through you to me this is just nuts!!!! I am trying to start a long arm quilting business and last night I was practicing on some table runners and they just didn’t turn out like the picture I had of them in my head. I just got sooo frustrated because they didn’t turn out. In fact, I was like why am I doing this, I shouldn’t bother even trying to do this as a business henceforth whining like my 6 year old! Sometimes I wonder where she gets it! Anyways, this post really hit the nail on the head so to speak, so thank you. I needed that.

  3. October 9 at 07:06PM

    So well said Ruth- it can be hard when getting excited about something & then not letting that excitement get us down when things aren’t exactly as we had planned.

  4. October 9 at 09:00PM

    Ok, I’ve been reading your 31 Day series right along and I’ve been loving it. I’ve even recommended it to others, but today’s post was spot on for me. I threw myself a nice pity-party this afternoon, because I was disappointed.
    Thank you for this. Thank you for putting things in perspective for me.

  5. October 12 at 09:28PM

    I have found that when I least expect them the greatest surprises come! I’ve been trying to be less expecting and just let things happen. It goes against every grain of my being but I’ve found that I’m much happier to find the good in what does happen than to be disappointed in the things that didn’t go exactly as I envisioned.

  6. October 30 at 09:28PM

    I’ve only just begun this challenge and today’s post was very timely. I look forward to where these 31 days will lead me.

  7. Mary
    November 16 at 08:06AM

    Two years after posting your challenge, it lives on!! And thank you, thank you for it!

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