“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” ~Dalai Lama

The quote above can seem very overly optimistic at first. How could not getting what you want – as long as it’s a reasonable desire like a promotion, a raise or even a date with that potentially special someone – ever be considered a good thing, let alone ‘a wonderful stroke of luck’?

The human spirit is quite formidable. Despite hearing innumerable stories and seeing confirmation from others who have “been there, done that,” we continue to think that everything will go according to plan when we pursue our ambitions.

We believe we are impervious to the possibility that things will not go as planned. However, no matter how much strategizing, planning, or study we undertake, the journey will invariably differ from our preconceived notions about how we’d get there.

The fact is that, to steal a line from The Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want. And yes, sometimes that can be a very good thing. Here are just a few of the many benefits of not getting exactly what you want, and how it can lead to an even better life than you imagined possible.

You’ll Learn That Things Can Only Get Better

If not getting what you want seems like hitting rock bottom – which it really can at first, then basically the only way you CAN go is up. Yes, you may feel entirely lost, in pain, and without hope or faith, but if you can summon the strength to face the reality that has overtaken you, there is a real hope for change.

You’ll Get More Comfortable with Discomfort

Not getting what you want, big or small, forces you to step outside of your comfort zone. The fact is that if you want to make a significant impact in your life or the world, you must get comfortable living there, and not getting what you want will teach you that fast.

You Can Redefine Success

A corner office, an award, or a big book deal may appear to be certain indicators that you’ve “made it.” When those milestones are few and far between, you learn to appreciate even small victories: a promotion at work, a song or story you penned that made a friend cry, a publisher agreeing to meet with you, and so on.

Because the big things are made up of little things, each stepping stone will appear to have considerably more weight than you anticipated, and the chances are good that you’ll enjoy the ‘little things’ more and learn to redefine the idea of what success actually means to you.

You Learn to Look for a Feeling, Rather Than a ‘Thing’

We frequently overestimate what it would take to make us happy, successful, or secure. And that’s what we’re all pursuing in the end, whether it’s through money, recognition, or health. You don’t need your dream career to be happy; you probably just want to be as happy as you imagine you would be if you had it.

When we realize what we want to feel rather than what we want to have, we can actually allow ourselves to be gratified in unexpected ways.

You Can Get More Creative

When you truly desire something, no matter how many times you are told no, you will not accept it. When you don’t get what you want the first time, you have to think outside the box and go off the beaten track to achieve your ultimate goal, which makes you not only successful but also extremely innovative.

You Can Learn to Work Smarter

A hurdle can slow us down long enough for us to notice how much energy we sometimes spend working hard but not smart. The downtime you gain from a “no” can be used to re-strategize and re-approach a challenge in meeting your goal and getting what you want from a different angle. This regrouping of energies may also be just what you needed to getting exactly what you wanted, or maybe even more.

You Have a Chance to Change Your Mind

We can devote so much time and energy to one conceivable outcome that we forget why we sought it in the first place. Being pointed in a different direction might sometimes provide the opportunity and confirmation we need to realize it’s fine to re-evaluate and start over.

You’ll Discover More About Who You Really Are

When you’re not scared, or upset, or angry, it’s easy to be upbeat, generous, and amusing, but who are you when you’re faced with the possibility that you might not get what you want after all?

Finding out who we are allows us to build on our strengths and address our faults before the stakes get too high and there’s too much to lose.

You’ll Learn That Other People Can Help After All

It’s often argued — and rightly so — that there’s no such thing as a self-made success because of all the work and investments that others must make to bring you there.

When you don’t achieve what you desire, you have the option of withdrawing from others. Those that are dedicated to achievement, on the other hand, understand that leaning on others is the easiest way to get back up after a fall. It’s also the most surefire way to “make it.” You’ll learn that you don’t have to do it all alone after all.

It Will All Make For a Great Story

It won’t be the times you won that are most interesting, inspirational, or exciting at the end of your life. Someday, the sweetest element of your accomplishment and the stories you want may very well be the struggle. And you’ll possibly find you are asked to tell them over and over again, because they are inspiring to others not getting what they want right now.