Long ago, in my dating days, I went on a first date.

We were talking about how much we both liked coffee when he said, “My officemate doesn’t wash his coffee mug. He lets it sit on his desk overnight, and it gets really gross rings around the inside. It can’t be sanitary.”

And then he said exactly what I didn’t want him to say. “Do you do that?”

Yes. I do. I let my cup sit out overnight and I wash it in the morning. What can I say? It makes for fewer trips to the kitchenette.

But I was preeeeetty excited about this guy. “Of course not,” I said. I smiled and changed the subject.

A more honest answer would have been, “I do. But I might be willing to change the habit.”

As you can imagine, this relationship fizzled long before he could discover my slovenly coffee habits.

I was super sad. Like, embarrassingly sad for way longer than I should have been. Eventually it became comical. He played the banjo — maybe that was why I was so bummed?

I persisted in my sorrow. Cleeeearly I had said something horribly wrong and nothing good would ever happen in my life.

But… years later, we are all happy. Everyone is doing well, living separate lives, and I still leave my empty, dirty coffee cup on my desk all too frequently.

If something doesn’t work out the way you thought it would (like a job, friendship, or family situation), then it brings you closer to reality. It frees up your time and energy to pursue other good things.

Other cool banjo players who don’t mind that you don’t wash your coffee mug. Deeper friendships. A better job.

It does not mean that you are a devastated failure clown, so you shouldn’t treat yourself as such.

It could, instead, be an indication that there is something else positive lurking in your future, for you to work toward and discover.

This week, pay attention to what you’re choosing to dwell on. Specifically, if you are dragging yourself through the mud over some soggy conflict, or finding some other way to treat yourself like a criminal, please notice that. Is that mindset doing you any favors?