I was recently somewhere where I was held up late into the evening, well past dinner. Famished from a long day of meetings, and still hours away from going home, I decided I would see what caught my eye at the vending machine.
After studying my options for a moment, I decided I felt a craving for cookies and licorice. I retrieved my cookies with ease, then set my sights on the sweet, red deliciousness of the licorice.
I put the exact amount of money in the machine... carefully pushed the correct combination of buttons... then fell to my knees in despair as my licorice bag got stuck just before falling, teetering on the edge of freedom.
In that moment of disappointment I wisely let my first inclination to break down the machine pass. I then tried shaking the machine, trying desperately to dislodge my treat from its taunting perch. My first efforts were to no avail, so I eventually resorted to a slightly more aggressive attack. I carefully rocked the machine backward a few inches, then let it come crashing down with a resounding thud.
It worked! I was finally able to enjoy my long awaited reward.
Now, I don't recommend beating up vending machines, but sometimes you have to take initiative and physically make things happen. As I walked away from the devious beast that night, I few well learned lessons stuck with me.
Sometimes Life Doesn't Give You the Choices You Want
Guess what... you don't always get what you want. I know it seems hard to believe, but life is sometimes unfair.
Sometimes, even though you may feel deserving, things don't always go your way. Even thought I settled for licorice that night, I was actually hoping to find my favorite candy bar, which wasn't there. You can imagine then that when the machine started fighting me for my licorice, I was very frustrated.
You will face times in your life when even though you really want things to be a certain way. It doesn't always go as you hope. In those moments when you are facing the disappointment, you can fall down in defeat, or you can pivot and make another choice.
I'm not suggesting you should stop looking for what you truly want in life. This is not me giving you advice that you should settle. I'm simply saying that just because you don't have the present opportunity for the choices you want, it doesn't mean you can't be happy.
Don't pass up what could be a really good option, just because its not everything you dreamed of. It's not worth forgoing the good that comes to you. Accept that life is sometimes unfair, but then make the most of it anyway.
Sometimes Things Get Stuck
I can tell you honestly that the last thing I wanted to do that night was stand there in dismay looking at my stuck treat. I was hungry, I was tired, and in that moment I just wanted some licorice!
In life, we sometimes feel that the things we work so hard for don't seem to be coming soon enough. It may seem unfair, and it certainly causes frustration, but there is really nothing you can do to prevent it from happening. So... accept it.
Decide now that even though you may not always have things just the way you would like them, you can still choose to be happy. Choose that even when the things you have worked so hard for still seem so far away, you are willing to keep working and have faith they will come.
After you find that peace, ideas of how you can affect the outcome will come to you more easily.
I chose to use my strength to shake my stuck treat free. It took effort and patience. You may need strength, wit, strategy, and even the help of others. It may take time, but eventually you will find that you have achieved what you were hoping for. Often, but not always, and that's the next lesson.
Sometimes You Lose
I got lucky in this story. I was able to shake my treat free. It's not always that easy however. I've had less successful experiences before.
I've come across other devious vending machines before where I have lost my treat. It stinks. Not only do you fail to gain your desired treat, but you usually also lose your money. This can leave you feeling completely defeated. the harsh reality is that sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, you will lose.
Life is not meant to be easy. Life is meant to teach us. It's a developing ground to help us grow into high functioning, capable adults. Losing your temper or freaking out will not change the fact that you have lost in that moment.
They did not give out participation trophies when I was a kid. If your team played poorly, you lost, and if you lost, you didn't win the trophy. It's that simple. At times, the best thing you can do is accept the failure, and figure out what you can learn from it.
In this story, I learned that I could never really trust that same vending machine again. If you go back to a machine that stole your treat and your money, and you lose them both again, the fault really lies with you.
Losing is not the end. It's frustrating, and it may sting for awhile, but you will get past it.
Pick yourself back up, shake off the dust, and then move on.
I have no guarantees that I will never again face a menacing machine with poor intentions. I can promise that I will be much more cautious purchasing machine licorice in the future.
I learned quite a bit from this pesky machine that night. While I don't wish for a similar experience again, I hope what I learned can help me to be a better person. Perhaps this story can help you too.
I'd say that would be worth a nearly lost pack of licorice.
Question: Can you think of a time when you lost? How did you respond? Leave a comment below.
Divorced Dad, Blogger, and Personal Development Mentor Derick Turner has been carefully crafting his message of post-divorce hope for a number of websites.