Disappointment is a recurrent feature of our lives. Some people handle it well while others are just devastated, not able to cope with the misfortune, perceived or otherwise, that has come their way. But Charlotte Joko Beck sees disappointment as an opportunity:
When we refuse to work with our disappointment, we break the Precepts: rather than experience the disappointment, we resort to anger, greed, gossip, criticism. Yet it’s the moment of being that disappointment which is fruitful; and, if we are not willing to do that, at least we should notice that we are not willing. The moment of disappointment in life is an incomparable gift that we receive many times a day if we’re alert. This gift is always present in anyone’s life, that moment when ‘It’s not the way I want it.”
I’ve seen people face the disappointment and then with sheer will power and brute force face the disappointing circumstances and get what they want, only to later learn that it was not the best thing for them or for others. Yes, there is a time to confront the disappointment but Beck’s point was that there are definitely times when the disappointment needs to be embraced as a learning opportunity.
One of the greatest causes of disappointment is failure and it can be one of the most horrifying experiences of our life. But failure also often has something to teach us. E. L. Mayo put it like this, “Failure is more important than success because it brings intelligence to light the bony structure of the universe.” When in the throes of failure, our heart torn asunder with the disappointment of having our dreams crushed, if we can manage to pause for a moment, and exercise “mindfulness”, we can often find an intelligence present in the moment that will teach us something we would not have learned otherwise.