By Sarah Vander Schaaff
This past Thanksgiving morning, when I sat on a yoga mat in a surprisingly packed room of yogis looking to find some calm before the storm, my yoga teacher mentioned something we should all be grateful for: our setbacks. We can learn a great deal from them if we listen to what they have to tell us. Giving thanks for failure and disappointment is not a philosophy embraced by many parents, myself included, who often rush to kiss a wound, physical or emotional, before a larger lesson can be seen or felt.
Perhaps the most aggressive among us act to erase the setback all together, picking up the phone or pen or walking into the principal’s office, ready to use our influence to change an outcome.
How do we teach gratitude for life’s roadblocks? One is certainly aware of the delicate balance needed when it’s not only one’s own path but also our children’s that is in question, and it’s tempting to smooth out rough patches because the risk of not doing feels too daunting.
I have found a dress rehearsal for losing and experiencing a form of setback in a very unexpected place, and this week I wrote about it on my Lunch Box Mom blog. My children and I have become fans of the Food Network show, Chopped, and have used the competitive nature of the show to talk about how one deals with not getting what one wants.
What I appreciate most about this secondhand roller coaster of desire and disappointment is that the winner of the competition is chosen through a system that, the end of the day, comes down to taste and even luck. It’s subjective. Sure, the judges can categorically say the chicken was overcooked, but in the mix of things that produce a winner, that fact might be less offensive than leaving the mashed sweet potatoes in the oven, like another chef.
When we watch the show, we are privy to the perceptions of the chefs flying around the kitchen, as well as those of the ones tasting the final plates. We hear criticism, both the good and the bad, and we watch as someone’s efforts are deemed inferior to another’s. How will the chopped chef take the defeat? Will they grumble about the poor judgment of those selected to make the cuts, or will they consider the defeat in the context of their longer journey?
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