When the character Scar, the jealous brother of King Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King, is first introduced, he utters the phrase “Life’s not fair!” and he’s absolutely right about that. Things will not always go the way we want them to. Somebody will always be doing better than us. The goals we set for ourselves aren’t reached sometimes. Recognition that we think we deserve doesn’t come when we want it to, or maybe it never comes at all.
Challenges and difficulty and even heartaches are inevitable, but these blows must never define who we are. No matter the disappointment, there’s no excuse for letting it win. And by giving up, that’s exactly what happens: Disappointment 1, You 0.
But the stakes are too high to just walk away from the battle like that. The stakes may not actually be life and death, but the quality of your life is about as meaningful as it gets. Marinate in unhappiness and self-pity if you want to, but in the end it won’t get you anywhere at all. Dig deep, find a way, and keep moving forward.
Find a Voice that Makes Sense
Listening to our own inner voices is usually the best approach, because that’s where inspiration comes from. But sometimes we tell ourselves things that don’t happen, and we start to doubt ourselves. When this happens, it’s best to seek out someone you admire.
Teachers, mentors, motivational speakers, gurus, and loving family members or personal friends can all help to plant a seed in our minds. Words like “You can do it” might seem hollow sometimes, but it’s the truth: You can do it. You have done it before, in one way or another. Some difficulty once seemed too great, or some obstacle felt like it was insurmountable. But, as Nelson Mandela once said, “It only seems impossible until it’s done.” And if he could spend more than a quarter-century behind bars in South Africa, and then one day end the very system that imprisoned him, there’s no reason you can’t overcome your struggles, too.
Look to the Arts for Inspiration
Everyone over the age of about thirty is familiar with the movie Caddyshack. Quoting lines from that movie can help lighten the mood in any social setting. And even Ted Knight’s character, the pompous Judge Smails, has a few words of inspiration for those gathered at the yacht club in one scene: “The man worthwhile is the man who can smile when his shorts are too tight in the seat.” Then Rodney Dangerfield’s character comes in and havoc ensues. But it’s a funny kind of havoc.
The point is that when life gets you down, smile. Be happy and gracious. Or, in the memorable words of the poet Frank Lebby Stanton, “Keep a’ goin’” Look to fictional characters who overcame great odds to achieve victory, because that’s where the only stories worth knowing about have come from.
Yo, just hang in there
Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa punched sides of beef and lost the first fight with Apollo Creed. But he didn’t go away, or give up his dream of being a fighter. And we’ll never get tired of hearing “Gonna Fly Now,” either. Find an old copy, or download a digital version if you have to, and see if it doesn’t pick your spirits up.
Learn about a Historical Failure
No American president is more revered than Abraham Lincoln. Think of the awe you felt when you looked upon his larger-than-life image in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is an enduring tribute to perhaps one of the greatest failures in world history. Consider that:
- Lincoln’s mother died in his youth
- His first love, Ann Rutledge, died at an early age
- He failed in his attempt at shopkeeping, and was saddled with years’ worth of debts
- He lost his first election as a young man
- He lost a highly-publicized election for U.S. Senate to Stephen Douglas
- He went through a series of ineffective generals during the Civil War.
If anyone knew what disappointment was, it was Abraham Lincoln. And yet, more than 150 years after his death, we as a society never tire of learning new things about him. His triumph over his many failures are what make him human, after all.
Never Let Anyone Steal Your Rock and Roll
Consider the case of Lester William Polsfuss, better known as Les Paul. His mother was told, in a note from a teacher, that her son would never learn music. There were no equivocating words, no false rays of hope, and no suggestions that he needs to work harder in order to improve. His teacher told his mother, in writing, that he would never learn music. And yet he invented the electric guitar and shaped rock and roll in a way that nobody else did. It’s a good thing he didn’t let this initial disappointment stand in his way. Steph McGovern is another name that gives a sense of inspiration. Just at the age of 19 she was awarded with “young engineer for Britain”. Now, even after being a successful and leading producer of BBC, she has always given a time to her hobby which is dancing and has been a champion of Irish dancing. She became a YouTube sensation when she showed her talent on the air. Still she takes part in various competitions and coaches dancers.
Human history is filled with examples of people who faced great hardships and prevailed. The arts have created countless examples of a person or groups that have outlasted the troubles that once befell them. And the life stories of you and the people you know prove that adversity will not last forever. Where would any of us be if this were not the case?