When you don’t get what you want

“The problem is not in the wanting; the problem is what happens when you don’t get what you want.” – Ciprian Iancu

Dealing with disappointment is a challenge for many of us. In our culture, we’re trained to think we can get whatever we want, and moreover that we “should” get it. Even that we’re entitled to it. Unfortunately, this type of thinking leaves us blaming ourselves (or looking for someone else to blame) when things in life don’t turn out the way we want.

The reality is that so many things are out of our control.

I recently watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and this quote stood out to me: “The measure of success is how you deal with disappointments.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that sentence.

So often we think of success in terms of achievement: we get what we want, we’re successful (and conversely, when we don’t get what we want, well, then we’re just a failure).

But looking at life in binary terms like that just doesn’t work.

On some level, yes, it’s good to take charge. To set goals and work diligently to achieve them is admirable. But, if we become so focused on achievement that we fall apart when we fail to achieve a victory according to our own narrow definition, well, that is a problem indeed.

Likewise, if we can only be happy when our lives, and the people in them, conform to our expectations, we may find ourselves drowning in unhappiness.

Sometimes, for reasons beyond our control, we just don’t get what we want, despite our best efforts.

And then what?

How do we cope with the disappointment? Do we allow it to make us bitter? Do we stop trying anything altogether, asking “What’s the use?” while shrugging our shoulders?

Or do we view it as an opportunity to change directions, to refocus? As a new beginning?

In any life, there are going to be disappointments. And bad days. And certainly there will be a “worst” day. But, it doesn’t matter so much what happens on the bad days, or even on the worst day.

What matters most is what you do on the day after. And the day after that.