How To Kill Your Disappointment
Ever have one of these days? You pull out the old mixer to start making a cake for a party starting in 3 hours. You plug it in and turn it on only to be greeted by a billow of smoke and a horrible screeching sound. That’s it, the mixer has packed in. You find yourself saying “Why today? Today of all days.”
Yes? Me too. It’s not only limited to mixers, cakes and parties though. It can be anything really. A TV that suddenly stops working, a bicycle chain that refuses to go back on a brand new bike, your computer crashes, the list can go on.
It’s only natural to get a bit upset. I would think the universes were aligning just to mess with me. It didn’t really matter if the item was old or not, I would get annoyed. It was only slightly more annoying when the item was new because, well, new items are supposed to last, aren’t they?
What happened to quality and workmanship? You’re certain mixers last for centuries with other people “why does this always happen to me?”
I’ve thought about this a fair bit and it all comes back to attachment (as most things that make us unhappy do).
The curse of attachment
When we buy something new we get ideas in our heads about how this item will work, how nice it will be to use, how it will last for years to come. This is where many of us begin down the path towards disappointment. We get attached to these ideas, consciously or not, and when things don’t go according to how we’ve played it out in our heads we are disappointed.
Life rarely goes according to plan. If you asked me 5 years ago where I would be in 5 years I would never have said a stay at home mom, with 2 kids and living in the same town we grew up in. I had a totally different plan. Plans change and situations change for better and for worse. The only way to avoid disappointment is to avoid attachment.
Don’t get hung up on “natural order”
There is a very fine line between avoiding attachment and not caring. To effectively avoid attachment I think you need to go in with realistic expectations. There is no “should” or “supposed to” there just is.
Too often we get so hung up on what we feel is the natural order of things that it’s difficult to accept anything else. Your car is newer than your neighbor’s car so it should last longer, right? Not necessarily. If that is how you’re thinking you’re getting hung up on your attachment to the idea of natural order. In general yes your new car will out last your neighbors old car but not because it should or is supposed to but rather because it did.
Shifting to acceptance
Accepting that things just happen and don’t necessarily have a large, complicated underlying reason as to why is actually quite liberating.
To help me shift towards accepting things for what they are, I ask “well why not today?” instead of “why today? today of all days”. Things don’t last forever. Everything around you is slowly decaying and will eventually, given enough time, no longer exist. For something to break today as opposed to 3 years from now is just how it is. If you get all worked up about it it’s not really because the thing broke but because our expectations were not met.
This little shift in perspective takes you from a powerless victim to an empowered participant. Like everything, it takes time to shift your thinking in this way. All I ask is that you observe what you’re thinking and feeling the next time something breaks or suddenly stops working. Then ask yourself “why not today?”.
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Photo courtesy of: Anna Gay