Disappointment to Joy in 3 Simple Steps

Sally-Anne, 30.12.17

It was a horrible Christmas. It was a great Christmas.

I’d been looking forward to it for weeks. My young adult twin sons were coming home on Christmas Eve. And some old friends of ours were coming to stay with their 3 younger children. Our preparation was thorough: a beautiful Christmas tree, abundant food and drink, Christmas stockings full of presents. And the best December snowfall for years in our French Alpine village — promising great skiing. The forecast for Christmas Day was 100% sunshine.

Such good fortune.

And then the norovirus struck.

My boys brought it home. Their Christmas day was spent mostly in the bathroom. Since this vicious virus can be transmitted through the air, ours had to be spent keeping out of their way.

Such disappointment.

I felt a story developing in my mind: a tale of unfairness and loss, of undeserving, of fear that this opportunity to spend Christmas all together might never happen again. My stomach was in knots.

And then I let the story go. It had no promise. And it risked spoiling the rest of our holiday with our friends. I needed to be resilient.

Breathing deeply into my abdomen I released the tension. As my body relaxed I began to see some alternative options. I made sure my sons were safe, hydrated and able to rest. I went skiing with our friends and loved it.

The next day was my sons’ birthday. They were well enough to get up. We combined our Christmas and birthday rituals into one. We laughed and felt joyful.

The day after that we all skied together. It was amazing.

This outcome was borne of letting go of what I couldn’t control, being ok with what was and loving it.

We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them. Letting go of fruitless mental noise creates space for us to generate real possibilities.

Whether this was a horrible Christmas or a great Christmas was entirely up to me.

Next time life disappoints you in some way, try these 3 steps:

  1. Let go of the disappointment — by choosing not to focus on it.
  2. Tell yourself: it’s a story I don’t need to develop. Create a new opportunity — by looking at the possibilities within your situation.
  3. Ask yourself: what is still possible in the circumstances? Allow it to happen — by identifying small, achievable steps and taking them.
  4. Ask yourself: how can I enable what I want?

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