The end to these stories tends to be very private. After disappointment, there is a final chapter of processing and healing required to close the loop.
The Olympics was an amazing example of intense disappointment mixed with storybook victory. I watched with such respect for these athletes. I would love to read their last chapters to learn more about their relationship with disappointment. I know it's different from mine.
Athletes like gymnast Jordan Jovtchev from Bulgaria in his 6th Olympic games, train their whole life to “succeed” or to “fail”, staring disappointment squarely and publicly in the face, over and over.
I’m in a different camp. I seem to work around potential life disappointments, living safely and predictably. Whenever I attempt to avoid disappointments, I ultimately create them, in the form of regret.
So how do we create a healthy relationship with disappointment?
Buddhism has a basic belief that disappointment is caused by attachment to expectations - the root of human suffering.
But how do we manifest a full life and detach ourselves from it at the same time?
How do we find the motivation to fuel our hard work without having expectations about the outcome?
Is life supposed to be just a wait-and-see exercise with pleasant surprises sprinkled in?
How do we let go of expectations without feeling stagnant or unfocused?
Maybe a healthy relationship with life and its disappointments means facing this emotion directly, regularly, and consciously.
- Loosening the grip of our dreams and desires without losing sight of them, so we can better appreciate the journey while still steering our life.
- Being more comfortable putting ourselves out there and then letting go, trusting the unfolding of life.
If we want to go for a medal in any area of our lives, we need to practice being vulnerable and strengthening our core sense of “wholeness” regardless of the outcome.
The spirit of Sunday's Closing Ceremonies embodied the Last Chapter we all want to write. It's about celebrating our best efforts, embracing those who land "ahead" and "behind" us, having mutual respect for our collective journey and honoring all of our courage along the way.