Because life … is not about what you like and want as much as it is about how you handle what you dislike and don’t want. – Deb Perelman (because really, who doesn’t love smittenkitchen.com?)
What? No more mango coconut popsicles? What heartbreak! Ah, disappointment. We’ve all had that bittersweet taste in our mouths, trying hard not to wince at what just happened (or didn’t happen). And then you get that ‘well, you can’t always get what you want’ thrown in your face for good measure. So now what? Pitch a fit? Have a good cry? Shrug and move on? This is actually a bigger and more important question than you may initially believe: How a person reacts to and handles disappointment, and how they rebuild and move on is quite telling about their perspective and also their ability to persevere.
This is a valuable lesson we parents try to teach our kids: Life is not always handing us lemonade. Life is not always going to be smelling like roses. What life does hand us, though, is reality, and reality is whatever you make of it. There are those who feel that they are constantly at the whim of others, that they don’t control their fate in the slightest. And then there are those who can answer any challenge with a smile. Which one are you? Your kids observe and see your coping skills, and learn from this. Your actions speak louder to them than your verbal lessons, so keep that in mind the next time life hands you something you didn’t want.
Unlike when we are children and think that every toy is ours for the taking, that every lap is beckoning us, and all furry beings are fun and loving, we see things with a slightly more jaded eye as we get older (and perhaps wiser. But maybe not.) Do life’s lessons feel like a burden or are they building your character, making you stronger and smarter? This is no right or wrong answer here. Having a positive outlook, though, and trying to learn from mistakes or hardships can foster characteristics that are more positive… and, to be honest, more likeable.
So maybe there are no more mango coconut popsicles. Maybe you did not get picked for kickball. Maybe your boss picked someone else to lead the team. Did you take a minute to look at what might be the bright side? I bet the blueberry banana ones are pretty tasty, too. And no one can lead a cheer as well as you can. And you know what? Not being the leader of the team will give you that extra 30 minutes you needed to clear your inbox.
You don’t have to be Pollyanna to not be a wet blanket. There is a happy – and probably healthy – medium. Let your kids see you rebound and recover and relish not being in first place, and that will be a good lesson to learn for them.