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how to handle disappointment

Disappointment

 

Lately I've faced quite a few (professional and personal) disappointments, and during these periods of dejection I've come to realize it's really difficult to stay positive and present when you feel disappointed. A lot of emotions challenge positive, present living (sadness, anger, frustration, etc.), but disappointment is one of the most difficult to cope with, at least for me, which is why I find it essential to write about how to handle it. 

The literal definition of disappointment is "the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations," but I don't know if that simple phrasing really captures the way it feels to be let down, to be hurt by something that has changed or that has not lived up to what was expected. It hurts. It feels really rotten to think something is going to happen — and in some cases to have every reason to believe it will happen — and then to be let down. 

But it happens. Disappointment is a part of life and if we don't learn how to cope with it properly, it can cause a lot of extra resentment and hurt, both in our relationships and within ourselves. (Because, let's face it, we all let ourselves down sometimes.) Avoiding disappointment completely isn't an option, but learning how to handle it as positively as possible certainly is. 

I feel like I've become a bit of a disappointment veteran lately, and as a result, I've had to cultivate some skills to make the most of letdowns. Here are some of the tactics I've found to work best when it comes to facing disappointment in your personal or professional life. 

 

LOOK CLOSELY AT EXPECTATIONS

Disappointment rears its ugly little head when your expectations being met. It might sound like good advice to suggest lowering or letting go of expectations, but expectation is a complex concept. On one hand, it's important to have expectations — both as something to look forward to and as a way to receive respect and appreciation. But on the other hand, the wrong expectations (or those that are unrealistic) can lead to unnecessary disappointment. The trick, then, isn't to let go of expectations, but to look closely at them. Earlier this month, I wrote about loving without expectation, which is a great place to start if you need to examine your expectations. Most importantly, it's useful to look at why you're expecting what you are and whether or not those expectations are really essential to your happiness. If you find they're not, it's a good idea to try to let go of them. If you determine that your expectations are reasonable and valid, proceed on to the next tip. 

 

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS

Okay, so you've determined that your expectations are completely necessary and vital to your happiness, but that doesn't exactly solve anything, does it? This tip won't necessarily solve the problem either, but it'll certainly help: acknowledge how you feel. This might sound basic, but we're all so busy with our lives that we often don't stop to really think about how we feel. How does this disappointment make you feel? (I know it sounds like a cliche therapy question, but it's a good one!) Do you feel sad? Angry? Frustrated? Do you feel powerless? Wounded? Left out? Depending on the disappointment (personal or professional, big or small), the way you feel may be different. Digging deeper to uncover how you really feel can be super helpful when it comes to coping positively with the dejection or hurt you might be experiencing. Acknowledging your feelings is the first step to healing them, but you can't acknowledge them if you don't know what they are! When you feel that pang of disappointment, take a deep breath, pause, and look closely at what you're really feeling. 

 

KEEP THE FEELINGS IN PERSPECTIVE

You are entitled to feel exactly how you feel as a result of being disappointed. There is no right or wrong way to experience the pain of being let down by someone or something. You're allowed to feel sad or angry or heartbroken. BUT. It's important to keep these feelings in perspective. The emotions are real, but they don't need to consume your reality. Yes, you feel hurt, but consider the situation from a big-picture point of view. Is this disappointment something that happens all the time? (For example, did your boyfriend let you down this weekend, but there was a good reason and he's always there for you, or is this just another example you can add to the long list of ways he's let you down?) If the disappointment is a repeat offender, it might be time to get rid of the person or get out of the situation. If it's a one-time deal, it might be time to forgive and move forward. Also, it's important to ask yourself the question: Will this matter a month from now? A year? Five years? If you think about it that way, you might find that, much as the disappointment hurts, the pain won't last forever, and just knowing that can really help. 

 

EXPRESS TO OTHERS HOW YOU FEEL

When it comes to speaking my mind about disappointment, I'm really good at doing this professionally and really bad at doing it personally. No professional disappointment will slip by undiscussed, but I have a difficult time speaking up when it comes to personal disappointment (especially in the romantic realm). This is perhaps because the personal stuff is more difficult to discuss and is more likely to ruffle feathers than work-related confrontations. But do as I say, not as I do. Talk it out. I'm not talking about having a screaming match, venting all of your anger and frustration at the one who's let you down (though that does sound very tempting...). I'm talking about having a calm, reasonable chat about how and why you felt let down so that the other person (or persons) knows how you feel. Your disappointment might be very obvious to you, but others may have no idea. And how are they supposed to avoid disappointing you in the future if they don't even know they've let you down? 

 

ADJUST YOUR THOUGHTS + BEHAVIORS

After you've assessed your emotions and discussed your disappointment, it's time to look at how you might want to adjust your thoughts and behaviors in the future. This is one of the hardest tips because it's not always easy to change the way you think or behave when it comes to certain people and situations. But if you want to have some control over avoiding future disappointment, it's important to adjust your thoughts and actions where necessary. You might need to tweak your expectations. Or, if your expectations are perfectly necessary and reasonable, you might need to tweak how you think of someone else (maybe, for example, you might not want to think of your flighty friend as your go-to lunch partner if she's always canceling lunch dates) or you might need to change your own behavior (for example, cancel your contract with a vender that never follows through). You can't control people or situations, but you can control the people you interact with and the situations you put yourself in. 

 

TRY TO LEARN SOMETHING FROM IT

As with all not-so-great experiences, I've been really trying to learn from the disappointment I've experienced recently. It's sometimes difficult to see the silver lining when things aren't going well (like when the publication date of my book got pushed back not one but three times!), but I really do believe that there is a reason for every disappointment and setback. As Thoreau so wisely put it in the image above, "If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment." It might take some time for the disappointing situation to make sense, and that's okay. Just try to be open to the idea that something good will come out of the bad because, in my experience, it usually does (even if it takes awhile to show itself). At the very least, facing disappointment can make you a stronger person who is honing his or her skills at looking for the positive in even the most difficult of situations — and that really is one of the best lessons you'll ever learn. 

 

PPG-Preorder

 
Less than a month until my new book, The Positively Present Guide to Life, debuts and I'm SO excited! The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)


6 life lessons from 6 years of blogging

Six-YearsImage Source


 

Positively Present turned six years old last Saturday. SIX!

It's hard to believe that just over six years ago, I was sitting on my bed, laptop on my lap, pushing the keys and deciding to create a site where I'd share my attempts at living a more positive, present life. I can vividly remember the moment when I shared with my then-boyfriend what I thought the name should be. I had no idea, way back then, what the words "Positively Present" would come to mean to me — and to my readers. Those two words have changed my life and I hope, if you've been following along for awhile, that they've somehow changed yours too. 

A lot has happened in the past six years. I've left my job to work on Positively Present full time, I've experienced my life-long dream of writing books, I've fallen in love, I've faced tough break-ups, I've suffered some serious loss (particularly my sweet little Bella), I've discovered new passions, and I've sure as hell discovered a lot about myself. When I look back on it, it's been a pretty amazing period of my life, and I've learned so much not only about myself, but about blogging, about writing, and about life in general.

Here are some of the life lessons I've uncovered over the past six years...

 

IT'S PERFECTLY OK START OFF SLOW.

When I started off, I kept the blog a complete secret. It took me two full months to even put my name out there (see here), and much, much longer before I shared the link with people I knew in real life. I'm not a shy person and I've been sharing my writing for as long as I can remember (in fact, one of my fondest memories of this is when I was in the midst of writing a short story for English class and all of my friends took turns reading it, all of them dying to know how it was going to end). But for some reason, I had a really hard time sharing this site with the world, probably because a lot of the posts are pretty personal. Whatever the reason, I started off very slowly and I realize now that that's okay. Going slow generally isn't my thing (I'm more of an instant gratification kinda girl), but starting off slowly isn't a bad thing. It gave me time to form a vision, to discover what worked best for me and my blog, and to let the content and design evolve naturally. Starting off slow helped me realize that you don't have to rush to make something a success. 

 

2009 Blog
Positively Present in 2009!

 

GOING ALL-IN IS SCARY (AND AWESOME).

After three years of blogging, I decided I wanted to give it a go as a full-time career. This didn't happen on a whim. I did a lot of planning and a lot of adding to my savings account before I took the plunge. In 2012 I left my full-time job and, man, was it a scary move to make. I had some really great coworkers and a pretty decent income and even though I wasn't in love with what I was doing, I certainly was comfortable. All of that changed in March 2012 when I said goodbye to the comfy corporate work and leapt into the unknown world of working for myself by myself. Taking this plunge was actually pretty exciting. The scary part came after I'd done it and found myself alone in my apartment all day, trying to get a handle on what exactly I was doing and how I was going to tangibly turn my ideas into a business. It was scary just starting out and it was scary doing it all on my own. But I'm not going to lie: it's pretty awesome to be in control of what I do all day, to decide when and how I'm going to work. My situation wouldn't be ideal for everyone, but the lesson I've learned is this: whatever you want for your career (or your life!), go all in. It'll be terrifying, but it'll be worth it. 

 

IT HELPS TO HAVE A BIG, EXCITING GOAL.  

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer. As a kid, I would daydream about what it would be like to see a book I'd written propped up on a shelf at my favorite bookstore. Admittedly, when I left my job to focus on Positively Present, I didn't have a very specific plan of how I was going to make the whole publishing-a-book dream happen, but I knew that's what I wanted more than anything. I knew if I worked hard enough and put myself out there, it would somehow happen. And now it is. It's all happening! (For days I've had this scene from Almost Famous in my head...) Just last week I received an advanced copy of my book The Positively Present Guide to Life, which will be in stores and available to ship online March 10. It was literally a dream-come-true moment. I felt like a princess in a fairytale, but instead of twirling around a ballroom dancing with a prince, I was awkwardly jumping up and down in my apartment with a book in my hand. A book with my name on it! My picture on the back flap! It was such a surreal moment and it made me realize just how important it is to have goals and dreams. Working toward something (and seeing it come to life) is really one of the best feelings in the world. 

 

Positively Present Guide to Life
The day my book arrived!

 

WHAT YOU DO (AND LOVE) MATTERS.  

Writing a book was always my goal, but I wasn't the best at going after it in the traditional sense. I wanted the instant gratification of publication, which is why I chose to self-publish my first book, Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively PresentIt was a successful venture, going the self-published route and I was content to keep heading down that path. As I was working on my second book, I received an email from Watkins Publishing, wondering if I might be interested in writing a book. It turns out they were looking for something Alice in Wonderland-themed and had discovered my site via this Alice in Wonderland article in an online search. It was an article I'd written years ago about a topic I was extremely passionate about: one of my favorite books. For most of my life, Alice has been my favorite, but I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined my love of Alice landing me a book deal. While I didn't end up writing about Alice, the connection made with the publisher led to the book that's debuting in a few short weeks. (YAY!!!) I've learned that what you love (in this case, Alice) and what you do (in this case, writing a blog post about it) can lead you to very unexpected and exciting places. What you do matters. What you love matters. 

 

TRYING NEW THINGS CAN BE LIFE-CHANGING. 

The same year that I left my job (2012), I took my first online class at Nicole's Classes to see if I could pick up some tips on graphic design. I'd always been fascinated by graphic design (I can remember as a kid playing around on my laptop designing book covers for my yet-to-be-written books and spending hours just testing out different font pairings!), but I'd never considered it something I could do. After all, I didn't have any professional experience and I hadn't studied it in school. I decided to give it a try anyway and found out that I love it. Since that first online class, I've spent countless hours taking classes, experimenting with the design programs, reading books, and doing what I can to educate myself on design. And all of that hard work has paid off, turning itself into a new part of my career! Just last year, I launched Twenty3, my design studio and have put together a pretty decent little portfolio. Writing will always be my first love, but I really enjoy designing, and I never would have uncovered this new passion if I hadn't given something new a try!

  

Dani DiPirro
Working as a designer now!

 

OTHER PEOPLE ARE VITAL RESOURCES.  

Even though I work for myself and I spent most of my time by myself, there is no way I would be sitting here writing this post today if it weren't for the help, support, and encouragement of other people. My friends and family have supported me 100% throughout the past six years (when I eventually opened up enough to tell them about it!) and there's no way I would be where I am if it weren't for them. I've also needed other people to help me learn new things, to create connections, and to form new online friendships. I've also been lucky enough to have people take a chance on me as a new designer, which has helped me learn and grow not only personally, but professionally as well. I consider myself an independent introvert, but even the most independent ladies need the help and support of others. Sometimes it's hard for me to ask for help or to reach out to create connections, but I've learned over the past six years that, even though I work alone, I am by no means completely on my own. No man is an island, as the saying goes, and no one who is successful in business (or life!) is doing it all on his or her own. 

 

 

For those of you who have been reading for years, thank you! You don't know how much it means to me to know you're out there, reading and supporting and encouraging me to keep writing. And for those of you who are new visitors or who just stumbled on the site today, welcome! I hope you'll enjoy what you find and that my words will show you just how powerful staying positive and present can be. It's changed my life and it can change yours too!


how to create happy moments

Create-Happy-Moments

 

I believe there's a big difference between being positive and being happy. To me, positivity is a mindset you can have it all times — regardless of the situation — while happiness is something you experience for a set (usually brief) period of time. Happiness in the general sense is what many people strive for, but what they should be striving for instead is to cultivate a positive mindset that will lead to more happy moments. Creating a positive mindset involves a lifestyle change and a complete shift in how you see the world (something I hope I'm encouraging with each Positively Present blog post!). Happy moments, on the other hand, can be created with small acts. 

Each and every day we have the opportunity to create little bits of happiness for ourselves and for others. We might not feel happy for long periods of time (like those days when everything just seems to be going wrong), but that doesn't mean we can't have happy moments. Sometimes we don't feel we deserve happy moments and sometimes we don't feel as if we can have them (like when we're really upset or angry), but no matter how you're feeling in a general sense (positive, negative, angry, sad, joyful, excited, nervous, etc.), you can create little moments in a day when you feel a burst of happiness. 

The trick to having these moments is to be open to the possibility of having them. No matter what your mindset of the day, if you're open to a little bit of happiness, you can create it or find it. I'm not going to say this won't take some effort on your bad days — it's going to be tough — but if you're at least open to the possibility of a little bit of happiness, you'll give yourself a chance to experience it.  

You might be wondering what these little moments of happiness consist of. In my mind, they're those fleeting moments when, no matter what's going on in your life, you feel a bit of joy inside, even if it's only for a moment. This might be because of someone else's act or something you've done for yourself, but whatever the reason, you feel like smiling. Obviously we can't control when others do things that give us these little happy moments, but we can do things to create happy moments for ourselves. Here are some ideas for creating happy moments (even if you're not having a happy day!): 

 

HAPPY MOMENTS YOU CAN CREATE TODAY

  • Give a nice tip to someone serving you
  • Smile at a coworker you don't know well
  • Eat something with sprinkles on it
  • Draw a caricature of yourself or a friend
  • Watch a funny video on YouTube (like this)
  • Do an unexpected favor for a friend
  • Make a list of things you're grateful for
  • Strike up a conversation with a stranger
  • Call up a friend for a quick chat
  • Pay for someone behind you in line
  • Explore archives on a favorite site
  • Give someone an unexpected hug or kiss
  • List what you've accomplished today
  • Make shadow puppets in the dark
  • Send a handwritten letter to a friend
  • Research places you'd like to visit
  • Sign up for an online learning experience
  • Go for a short walk around the block
  • Offer to pick up the lunch/dinner tab
  • Compliment a complete stranger
  • Bake something delicious just for you
  • Lend someone your favorite book
  • Send a surprise pizza to a friend
  • Let someone in your lane while driving
  • Tell a friend why you love him/her
  • Order flowers for someone (or yourself!)
  • Donate used clothing to charity
  • Write a check to your favorite charity
  • Send a just-because thank you note
  • Tell a silly joke to a friend
  • Take a colleague out to lunch
  • Bring your boss/coworker/friend coffee
  • Post something uplifting on Facebook

 

As you can see, there are tons of little ways to bring happiness into your day (many of which, you might have noticed, involve bringing happiness to others).