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handling disappointment: 5 tricks to get you by

 "If you don't like something, change it.
If you can't change it, change the way you think about it."

Mary Englebreit

This weekend a lot of people on the East Coast are facing disappointment. With a huge hurricane barreling up the coast, plans are being cancelled, places are being shut down, people are being evacuated, and events are being rescheduled. Up and down the coast, people are realizing that whatever weekend plans they made are going to have to be put aside or forgotten altogether.

I myself had some weekend plans that may or may not happen now that a tropical storm is heading my way and, like many of my fellow east coasters, I've felt more than one wave of disappointment over the past day or so. I probably won't be going to the museum I was looking forward to checking out. I probably won't be able to do all of the writing I had in mind (chances are, the power will go out and writing by hand just doesn't work out so well for me...). I probably won't be able to enjoy one of the few summer weekends we have left by spending time outdoors.

Most likely, this weekend will be a wash. A two-day parade of mini-disappointments. But, hey, that's life, right? Even if you're the luckiest girl or guy in the world, you're bound to encounter some disappointment in your life. Whether it be a rained-out weekend, a crush that didn't turn into a relationship, a job opportunity that didn't work out, or an accomplishment that didn't quite come to fruition, we've all suffered from setbacks. During times of disappointment, it can be pretty darn hard to see the silver lining. The negativity comes looming in and the positive thoughts are cast in shadows of negativity. Focusing on the positive seems like the hardest thing in the world to do when faced with a disappointment -- especially a big one -- but, hard as it might be, it's still possible to focus on the good things in your life even when you're battling a loss. 


5 Tips for Handling Disappointment

1. Let yourself feel let down. It's okay to feel letdown. Even if it's a small thing (like me not going to the museum this weekend), allow yourself to experience whatever it is that you're feeling. Big or small, disappointments are not fun. You're allowed to be unhappy about them. But don't dwell on that unhappiness. Experience it, sit with it for a bit, and then move forward to #2. Allowing the disppointment to bring you down will do nothing positive for you, so don't let it hold you back for too long.

2. Get some perspective and see the big picture.
No matter how hard it might seem, you have to take a step back and get some perspective. If you're facing a small disappointment, this is fairly easy. For example, I might be bummed that the power's likely to go out, but I can be grateful for all of the wonderful things I still have that don't involve electricity (love, health, etc.). When faced with a big disappointment, perspective can be tough to come by so don't be afraid to recruit loved ones to help you see the big picture. And, for added inspiration, make a list of everything going right in your life.

3. See if there's something you can change.
As the quote above says, if you're unhappy with something, the first thing you should do is try to change it. Sometimes the initial sting of a disappointment makes us feel helpless, but on closer inspection we might find that there is, in fact, something we can do to prevent or lessen the disappointment. Give some thought to what's really at the heart of your disappointed feelings and see if you can seek satisfaction, inspiration, or motivation elsewhere. If you know there is nothing at all you can do, move on to #4.

4. Revise your thinking if change isn't an option.
Once you've determined that there is nothing you can do to change the situation, you're best option is to change the way you see things. It's quite tempting to wallow in self-pity and despair when things are going as you'd hoped, but no good can come from doing that. If you want to handle your disappointment in a positive way, you have to change your thinking. Consider the disappointing situation carefully and find a way to re-frame it in your mind. Make a list of why this disappointment is actually a positive thing and you'll start to see the situation from a new perspective.

5. Believe in your ability to have hope.
When facing disappointments, it's so easy to be beaten down, to believe that situations are hopeless, and to give up the belief that things will eventually work out. No matter what you do, don't let your let down bring you completely down. Keep reminding yourself to have hope and know that, despite the fresh pain of a new disappointment, you always have the ability to hope for good things coming your way in the future. Believe in yourself. Believe in hope.

No matter you're facing, no matter how hard it is, don't forget that you are not alone. Every day people face disappointments of all kinds -- from a tiny missed opportunity to a life-altering letdown -- and every day people overcome these difficulties and move forward with their lives. Initially it might seem difficult, but handling disappointments well is an essential part of living a positive life. If you want to live positively in the present moment, you must let go of life's letdowns and focus on the good things in your life. Easy? Not always. Essential? Absolutely. With any luck, the five tips above will help you to stay focused on the now and make the most of your life -- no matter what disappointments come your way.

How do you handle disappointments in your life?
What tips would you offer someone struggling with a major letdown? 


Update: I wrote this article before the storm arrived and, much to my surprise, it wasn't nearly as bad as the weatherpeople had predicted. We lost our power only briefly and on Sunday I was able to visit the Kandinsky art exhibit (crossing that off my list of 28 Things To Do Before I Turn 29!). Having this happen reminded me that we often anticipate disappointments before they have happened. Sometimes (actually, a lot of the time!) the things we worry about or anticipate being disappointed over never actually happen. I will definitely be keeping that in mind the next time I think a disappointment is coming my way!

wish list: 28 things to do before i turn 29


Tomorrow at 9:12am I will turn 28 years old.

Yikes. Though I'm creeping up on 30, I feel much closer to 20... or maybe even 16. My mom always says you're only as old as you feel. And though sometimes I do feel like I've learned a lot in these 28 years, making me feel wise beyond my 28 years, more often than not I feel young, alive. I'm excited to learn and experience and see more than I already have. There is still so much to do. I don't feel like there are enough years in my life -- or any life -- to do it all. 

So we must prioritize. We must choose what means the most to us and we must focus on that. Sadly, too many people don't do this. They take whatever comes along and then go with it. They allow their lives to be guided down whatever path suits the people or organizations around them, being pushed and pulled like some sort of seashell in the current. I don't want to be a passive seashell, floating along, bumping along the shore and being swept again back out to sea. 

I want to be steering a ship. Or at least my own tiny boat. I want to choose where I'm going. I want to point myself on my own course and have some control over where this life is headed. It's not always easy to take control, to choose your own path, but I'm taking it one day at a time. And one of the best ways I can think of to take control of my life right now is to decide what I'm going to do with this next year of my life. After all, I'm only 28 once. I better make it awesome! 

Some of them are small things, some are big, but all of them will push me in the direction I want to be going in life. Every year when I have a birthday, I always look back on the past year and forward to the next one. Often, I make grand plans and then find myself disappointed when they don't work out. This year I'm going try something different. I'm going to make 28 mini-plans -- things I really think I can accomplish in the next 12 months -- and I'm going to get to work on them right away. 

I might not love the idea of getting another year older, but I do love the idea of having another year to fill with the 28 things on the list below. 

28 Things To Do Before I Turn 29

1. Write a new short story (fiction!).

2. Visit the Kandinsky art exhibit. 

3. Discover amazing new music every Monday

4. Cover my wall with my own art. 

5. Volunteer at an animal shelter. 

6. Eat more fruits + veggies. 

7. Visit Portland, OR + ask about Portlandia

8. Learn how to take great photos with my DSLR

9. Get something (an article?) published. 

10. Keep adding money to my savings. 

11. Summit an entry to Postsecret.

12. Take Bella for more walks. 

13. Make this cool art for my apartment. 

14. Stop watching so much TV. 

15. Read at least 50 books on my list.

16. Make a digital scrapbook.

17. Finish reading + be inspired by The Spark Kit.

18. Make these polaroid magnets.

19. Say "I love you" more often. 

20. Learn to sell on Etsy + Ebay. 

21. Create a book with my Instagram photos.

22. Finish + share my ebook.

23. Plan a trip to visit my cousin in Hawaii. 

24. Make a new vision board.

25. Organize my art + wrapping supplies.

26. Participate in this Photo Challenge.

27. Find an incredible Halloween costume.

28. Be more positive + present (of course!)


Though I didn't expect this when I started making this list, I'm actually now really excited about my 28th year! I was feeling a little ughhh about it -- not really looking forward to feeling another year older -- but after making this list, I feel like there are so many fun and cool things I want to do this year and I can't wait to get started. Most people do the "before I turn 30" lists, but I say, why wait? Start a list on your next birthday and you'll certainly be excited for the year ahead. Or, if you can't wait, start a list right now! I'd love to hear what you can't wait to do. Share the things you want to do before your next birthday in the comments section below. 

What things do you want to do before your next birthday? 
What ideas, events, activities will inspire you for the next year?

10 life lessons from the one i love

Last year around this time, I wrote about the 30 lessons I'd learned from love (check out Part I and Part II if you haven't already). Clearly I'd learned a lot last year, but this year I've learned even more -- all from that same special someone who is celebrating his birthday today. (Happy birthday!!) In addition to learning so much from being in love, I've learned so much from him as a person. In some ways we are similar, but in many ways we are different and seeing (and living with!) these differences has actually been incredibly inspiring for me. Though he may not realize it (and I don't show/tell him as often I should), he does inspire me to be a better person. He might not realize it, but below is a list of ten things he has taught me through his actions. These are things I aspire to be (and sometimes am!), and I'm so fortunate to have someone in my life who inspires me on a daily basis. Hopefully reading these 10 lessons will inspire you as well!

10 Lessons I've Learned From My Love

1. Be patient.
He is one of the most patient people I know. He takes his time getting things right and doesn't rush himself (or me!). I'm certainly not the easiest person to get along with at times, but he is always patient with me. As I've mentioned in previous posts, patience is something I'd really like to have more of in my life so it's wonderful to be around someone who inspires me with his own patience.

2. Be present. When he's doing a task or having a conversation, he's in it. Unlike me, who is often thinking about the next thing or rushing off to do something else, he really knows how to stay present and focused on what he's doing. Being with someone who gives you his full attention and really stays in the moment is a gift -- and one that I'm very thankful for!

3. Be generous. He is one of the most giving people I know. Whether it's giving up some of his stuff to make room for my mounds of clothing or being willing to help me with whatever creative project is currently on my radar (thanks again for hanging those frames!), he's always generous with what he has, whether it be time, money, or things. Such a great quality to possess!

4. Be thoughtful. Not long ago, I mentioned that I wished I was going to see Britney Spears in concert. The next day he had purchased tickets for me and a friend! It was such a thoughtful gesture and it's only one of many acts of thoughtfulness (including attending the Taylor Swift concert with me). He really cares about and considers others, and that's such a great way to live.

5. Be flexible. In the time we've been together, he's been able to experience some of the ups and downs of me. He's been able to ride the roller coaster, going with the flow and being flexible when plans (even big ones!) change or disappear. Flexibility is something I want to see more of in me, and I'm grateful to have someone around me who inspires me with his go-with-the-flow attitude.

6. Be supportive. Very few people in my life are as supportive as he is. I have a few great cheerleaders, but he's up there as one of the best. Supportiveness isn't always the easy quality to possess, but the way he does it makes it seem effortless. Not only is he supportive of me, but I also witness the ways he's supportive of others -- coworkers, family members, etc. -- and it's truly inspiring.

7. Be interested. No matter what we're discussing, he's always interested. When I talk to him about things I know must be boring, he always acts (and I honestly believe he is) interested in what I'm saying. And he does this with everyone he talks to. He gives his undivided attention and focuses on others, which is a quality that constantly reminds me of what a good person he is.

8. Be yourself. He's not afraid to just be who he is -- a quality I honestly admire more and more in people as I get older. Life is too short to pretend to be someone you're not, and his ability to be himself is one of my favorite qualities about him. It's also one of the greatest lessons he's taught me: when you're yourself, the right people will love you for who you are.

9. Be open. Anyone who knows me knows that an open mind is a requirement for being a part of my life. I'm always finding new obsessions and new "favorites." (Wolves top the list at the moment.) Through it all, he's able to take my likes and dislikes with an open mind (no easy feat!). If he can be accepting of me, he can be open-minded with anyone -- an inspiring trait indeed!

10. Be loving. Hands down, he is one of the most loving people I know. And not just with me. He's loving toward his family, and even to my little pup, Bella. He performs acts of love on a daily basis and he speaks lovingly as well. If there's one thing I want to be, it's a loving person and I'm thankful to have a constant source of love in my life.

As I've stressed frequently, it's so important to choose who you surround yourself with wisely. The people you see on a daily basis and spend a great deal of time with can have a major impact on your life. I've been fortunate enough to have found someone who inspires me and who, by just being himself, makes me want to be a better person. It's because of that (and so many reasons!) that I love him and I hope he has the happiest of birthdays today. Happy, happy birthday!