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I was meeting up with a few friends the other day, and the conversation eventually got around to New Year’s Resolutions. The resolutions we had were pretty par for the course. One person wanted to work on his health in the coming year, and get his diet and exercise habits back on track. Another person wanted to improve her relationships with her kids. A third person wanted to improve his dating relationships, and hopefully find his spouse. And so it went.

I started to reflect on the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, and why they are so common. I think at some level, it has to do with disappointment. We’re disappointed about certain parts of our lives. We’re disappointed about things that happened in 2015. And we want something to be different this time around.

As 2015 has come to a close, I have had to sit with my own disappointments—with my career, disappointed that my writing and books haven’t taken off yet. With my relationships, disappointed that I haven’t gotten married and stepped into having a family of my own. With my emotional health, disappointed that I still struggle with anxiety, confidence, and relationship issues. With my physical health, disappointed that I have had difficulty recovering from a CrossFit injury and getting back into shape.

What do I do with those disappointments? At some level, I try to address them through things like New Year’s Resolutions, making changes, going to counseling, etc. And all those are good, helpful things.

But they don’t ever fully take away the sense of disappointment, do they? The reality is that we live in an imperfect world, made up of imperfect people (ourselves included). Because of that reality, we will always live with a certain level of disappointment. Here are 3 things that have helped me to deal with my own disappointments:

  1. Try your best to change what you can. This is the active part of trying to address or change disappointments in our own life. I think it’s important to do your best to address problems in your own life. Go to counseling, see a doctor, consult with an expert, read a book. Do what you can to create the life that you want.
  2. Accept the disappointments. Recognize that no matter how hard you try to change, there will still be disappointments in your life. This is the reality of the world we live in. Do your best to change your life, but then let that be enough. It’s okay to feel sad and disappointed sometimes. Share your sadness and disappointment with others who are close to you, and support each other in your disappointments.
  3. Be grateful for what you have. Although I have some disappointments in my life, there are other things in my life that are pretty great. I have a career that I find meaningful and fulfilling. I have enough resources to meet my basic needs, and a little extra. I have great friends, and a family who loves me. Sometimes it’s easy for us to get overwhelmed by our disappointments and wallow in them. Practicing gratitude helps us to bring our focus back into balance. This balanced perspective is more in tune with reality—life is a mix of good and bad.

Discussion: What are you disappointed with as you begin 2016? How do you cope with disappointment in your own life?

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