How To Keep Disappointment From Breaking You Down



Jul. 8 2015, Published 3:30 a.m. ET

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Reality – Expectations = Happiness

That’s the formula right?

If you got out of bed today expecting every person you looked at to punch you in the face, then you could probably have a pretty great day when no one actually did that to you, huh?

The premise is that if you don’t get overly excited about anything, you won’t be disappointed when it ends up being mediocre.

If you don’t expect anything good to happen you’ll be pleasantly surprised when it turns out to be very average.

That logic breaks my heart.

It really does.

Is disappointment really so terrifying and painful that we’re willing to sacrifice all our life’s potential to avoid it?

Is it really worth it to give up on our most prized dreams because temporarily failing at them will make us sad?

I won’t accept that. We deserve so much more that that.

Here’s how we can live glorious lives and raise our expectations even higher:

Only expect great things from your own doing

I think the biggest reason most people get disappointed is because they put all of their expectations into something completely out of their control. You can’t expect your boss to give you a raise, you can’t expect to win the lottery.

They’re fun dreams. I mean, how great would it be if the entire world bent over backwards to fulfill your wishes?

Sadly that’s just not how it works.

Luckily for us though, there is a way around it. We have to be the person who molds the world.

We have to take our dreams into our own hands.

You should expect a better position. And then work your tail off, learn the required skills, and make the promotion a no-brainer for your boss.

But you shouldn’t expect to win the lottery. It’s out of your hands. It’s a waste of emotional energy.

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Keep trying

What is disappointment? It’s when life doesn’t live up to your expectations…yet.

Anyone who ever made something of themselves fought their way through crashing waves of disappointment.

Sure, you could think of it as painful and demoralizing. But what if you thought of it as a right of passage?

What if it was mental training to help prepare you for the life you’ll soon possess? What if the universe was just double-checking to make sure that this was a goal that you truly wanted to achieve?

Nothing worth having comes easy. I don’t think that’s an accident.

Will you let your disappointment break you down or will you harness it as motivation to keep moving forward?

Is comfort the goal?

“Reality – Expectations = Happiness”

This lifestyle will make you very content.

Being content is being in a “state of peaceful happiness.” Being content means being satisfied. Being content means being pleased. Being content means being at peace.

But we can be at peace when we’re old. Right now I want to live!

We only get so many years on this planet. We only get so many emotional experiences.

I’m not wasting mine on contentedness.

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I want to be filled with wild, reckless, uncontrollable joy. I want to be overtaken by uncontrollable sadness. I want to be overcome with painfully satisfying achievements. I want to look back on my life with a burning ache of nostalgia. I want to be hungry. I choose to be disappointed because it is the only thing that stands between being massively, deeply, and honestly fulfilled.

Being comfortable is for being on an airplane: you’re stuck on it so you want to try to at least be comfortable while you have to be there. Comfort is for the people who want to do nothing more than exist.

But this is your life! This is not some terrible punishment or some grandiose test.

If anything, the test is whether or not we can realize how amazing and beautiful this world really is.

What do you really have to lose?

What would you really have to lose by keeping your expectations high?

What would you really gain by playing it safe and staring at the wall all day?

The truth is that we all suffer terrible failures. It’s unavoidable.

You will either fail in life or you will fail at life.

The first option has light on the other side of the tunnel. The first option let’s you gain something from your failures.

And what about the second? You won’t have to feel a thing. You’ll be able to quietly exist in comfort. No one will even notice you when you’re gone.

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Who’s telling you to do that?

I think advice holds little value coming from the wrong person. You wouldn’t want to learn how to do your taxes from a puppy. You (hopefully) wouldn’t get lessons from your accountant on how to be cuddly and adorable.

So who is advocating for low expectations?

Relaxed elderly people –

The farther you get in life, the more your values will evolve. When you’ve already enjoyed your youthful, energetic years, you have different priorities. You don’t have the same drive to prove yourself. You don’t have the same tenacity. You’ve done the hard work and you’re allowed to relax. You can be at peace, you can put your feet up, you can set low expectations and harvest the contentedness that comes from doing that.

Wise monks –

Several devout followers of eastern philosophies subscribe to a passive “oneness” with the universe. They seem to be driven by a deep and pure sense of wisdom far beyond that of the western world. If there’s only one right answer to life, chances are they’re the ones who have it figured out. Maybe I’m not mature enough. Maybe I’ve been brainwashed by immersion in capitalism. But I don’t want the life they live, at least not now.

Scared people –

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When was the last time you heard a massively successful person tell you not to take a chance on yourself? People give advice based on what they’ve experienced personally. Someone who got halfway and got discouraged will have an entirely different outlook on how to approach life. Maybe they’re right. Maybe it is reckless and foolish to go for the gold. But it is important to take note of who is giving the advice and decide for yourself.

There’s no right answer

The beauty of life is that you get to decide how you are going to live it. I don’t believe there’s one right way to do it. Everyone has their own path.

There still is danger in choosing the wrong path for yourself. Find your own way but make sure it’s the right way for you.

What drives you? Listen to it. Follow it.

What a tragedy it would be to miss out on the life of your dreams because you were afraid of disappointment.

Start holding yourself to high standards and glorious expectations.

Ryan writes about crashing funerals and exploring abandoned drainage tunnels over at DopeStoke. It’s time to start going to bed a cooler person than when you woke up.

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