How To Be Happy After Disappointment

Mom checked the mail that day almost sixteen years ago. She knew the news was not good from the size of the envelope. And I knew the results before I opened it as she handed me the thin piece of mail. Still, I had a few seconds of hope that I was wrong as I carefully opened the letter.


Quickly scanning the letter, I realized I had been wait-listed. Not completely denied but I wasn’t accepted into law school either. In my life I have ,of course, had some major disappointments. But this one hit especially hard. In fact, to this day, it was one of the most sickening feelings I remember having. I wanted to throw up. Physically I felt this disappointment all over my body and I burst into uncontrollable sobs.

My current situation heightened my disappointment to an extreme level. I was so vulnerable and weak during that time. After a very successful graduate school experience, I had spent the year after graduation in two miserable jobs. I was so unhappy and was looking for an out. Law school had been an idea in the back of my mind and I decided to go for it. Now, I didn’t have my escape and I didn’t know what to do.

From Disappointment To A New Dream

I realize now after counseling students for over 11 years that I have a natural set point for optimism. Even after the most disappointing setbacks I will find my way back to the positive. Some people do have this natural gravitation toward optimism but I believe all people can follow a few steps to move on quickly after disappointment. Here are some my natural habits I use:


First allow yourself that time to cry and totally indulge in self pity. For me, I need comfort during this time. I need the comfort of my home and the treat of good food. Talking it out is a must as well. However, you only get a little time to fully grieve. Sure the sadness will pop back up in spurts in the coming weeks depending on how much you are disappointed. Still, only allow yourself about 24 hours of a full on pity party.

Pick A New Goal

Yes, just that fast. It doesn’t have to be a big goal but you need a new focus. In the days after my law school letter, I prayed I would get taken off the wait-list but I knew I still needed something to keep moving forward. A couple of weeks later, I applied for a doctoral program in Higher Education Administration.

Be In The Moment

Look around you and be thankful for what you have right in the moment you are in. Throw yourself back into your present life and love what you have!

Realize The Blessing

As we go through life the great thing about multiple disappointments is seeing the results from not always getting what we want weeks to months to years later. I was accepted into my doctoral program. After a year, I thought I might try for law school again but I fell in love with higher education and helping students. Law is a great career but now I realize it wasn’t the path for me. God saw over the wall that is tomorrow and knew it. Just like a parent seeing the best for her child, God did that for me. So while I had to go through the pain of disappointment, it was worth it now to keep me on the right path to what really makes me happy.

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Freedom To Be You! Five Ways To Focus On Your Goals

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