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Don’t just cope with disillusionment, learn from it

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By Tracy Simmons

Disappointment is in the air. It’s hanging there, like smoke after a fire. We can feel it when we breathe. We can smell it.

It will clear out eventually, but perhaps not without leaving injury behind.

Spokane progressives are frustrated and dismayed by the mayoral election results. Down in Moscow, Idaho, conservatives are feeling the same pangs.

For the wounded, healing will take some time.

I’ve read social media posts by voters expressing their rage, their sadness.

It’s not new.

Disappointment has a way of creeping into our lives.

It certainly whispers in my ear often. I’m disappointed more people don’t support local journalism, that people seem to increasingly be voting party over issue, that we aren’t better stewards of our planet.

I’m disappointed in myself for not riding my bike more last month, for eating that extra doughnut, for not pushing myself harder to do better.

But I can’t let dispiritedness win the day — no matter how big or small it is.

I have dreams for our community to become stronger, to move forward. To do that we need to push through the smog — the discouragement — and find the other, clearer side. It will be better if we do that together.

This shadow is temporary, if we work hard.

We’ve all heard the saying, “There’s power in a positive attitude.” Maybe it sounds cheesy, but there’s wisdom in those words.

There really is power in a positive attitude. But there’s more power in a negative one.

So how do we climb out of this? How do we stay positive when so much around us seems negative?

One way is to surround ourselves with friends who can help us overcome a gloomy emotional state.

The Buddha talked a lot about community. He said spending time with wholesome friends is one of the most powerful spiritual practices.

We’re impacted by those we hang out with.

When I first moved to Spokane I had a good job through the Religion News Foundation, and it came with a good salary. I was writing about religion full time, which to me meant living the dream. Not long after I bought my house, I was informed that our grant was pulled.

My dream, I thought, was shattered. I could feel myself spiraling into pessimism.

Thankfully, I had friends who invited me to sit around the fire pit with them. They listened to my worries, comforted me, reassured me it would be OK and pulled me out of my despair. Their encouragement prompted me to find my own way to keep going, which is how SpokaneFaVS.com came to be a local nonprofit.

Maybe some of us need to find a fire pit to gather around right now, to find that same kind of strength.

Another way to fight disappointment is by being grateful. For anything, everything. When we can make it a habit to acknowledge life’s big, or little, blessings, it can reshape our frame of mind.

Each morning I walk almost a mile from my car, through the University of Idaho arboretum to my office. Nature, as I’ve written before, is my sanctuary. I’ve noticed my days are arguably better when I take the time to notice and appreciate the beauty of my morning walk.

However we cope with our disillusionment, we must remember that there’s a lesson in it. We can learn from what we’re feeling, and find strength to create change. That way when it creeps back in, which it will, we can be better prepared to handle it with wisdom and grace.

Tracy Simmons

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. She serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and for the Religion News Service. She is also a Lecturer of Strategic Communication at University of Idaho.

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