Tao of Disappointment

I met with a study group the other day and the topic of conversation gravitated towards how disappointed and unhappy people were about the Covid-19 situation. Most of the conversation was drifting around how they needed to adjust and couldn’t do what they wanted to do anymore because of social limitations and curfews. I understand those feelings. Much has changed in our world.

Yet as we continued to discuss the conversation turned to examining how the Disappointment was driven by the same thought. “I wish things were different than they are right now.” That seems to cover it. I’m disappointed because reality has presented me with something that isn’t matching my expectations or wishes.

I get the feeling that although Covid-19 is the current content or focus of the disappointment, the same process of being disappointed about the way things are has been a lifelong struggle for most of us. The scary thing is being disappointed in how WE ARE.

The action of reminding oneself that we are in a particular place in time and space, right here, and moving the attention onto what opportunities and possibilities are possible from that time and space, is a way out of the disappointment trap.

I have no control over the thoughts and feelings that rise up out of the circumstances that I find myself, but I do have control over my attention and focus. And, once I move the focus, the feelings and thoughts change. They reattach to the new focus.

So the group was seeking ways to redirect attention under the current situation, I offered that the quickest way to change focus was to be in service to some situation of need. Help someone who needs help. Find a situation that moves the focus from me to you. I find it’s difficult to dwell on being disappointed about anything when my focus in life turns to helping others.

Some people immediately voiced that they don’t have the time or resources to dedicate themselves to any kind of service work. My response is it depends on how you define being in service.

Perhaps vow to smile and say one kind thing to everyone you can today. Start with yourself and move from there. Pay some little thing forward for another person. Tell someone that you value them just because they are who they are right now. Feed the wild birds and squirrels in your neighborhood. Water a dry plant. Make eye contact and nod to strangers, this gives the signal “I see you.” It’s amazing how one of these acts, done in presence, will change the entire view of the world that is right now.

Being in service to others doesn’t mean any huge drain on time and resources. There is much we can do to deflect self reflection to attention onto the world around us. We add an ambiance and flavor to the world when we move from self to others.

And, we are rewarded by our very actions, there is no longer anyone there who is focused on being disappointed.

Be very kind to yourself and others and the view shifts.


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