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Have you ever noticed that your happiness and satisfaction with your life is contingent upon what you are dealing with at this exact moment in time? Consider the days where all is going well until you receive some hard to hear news causing everything to come crashing down.

It’s a common situation, we all ride the crazy roller coaster of incredible highs and heartbreaking lows in this life. After all, we would never truly appreciate the great times if things were amazing all the time. However, you need to realize that you are not a helpless victim in your life. While there is no way to completely avoid challenges and struggles, you have control over how you choose to react – and that is the key to finding real happiness.

Far too often we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of trying to control the situations around us or the people that we meet. This is a frustrating act of futility. Why? When it all comes down to it, we are powerless to control anything but ourselves. You can’t change the future, or can you dictate how others are going to respond to life’s situations. So, why would you allow your happiness to ride on your ability to do something impossible? Is that not the very definition of setting yourself up for failure?

Next time that life throws a curve ball in your direction, take a step back and take a look at the situation. Allow yourself to identify the many frustrating, annoying, painful things that are out of your control – situations in life, the future, and the people you have met along the way. Don’t deny the pain the negative emotions that you feel, and definitely don’t bury them away to return and haunt you down the road. Instead, sit with these emotions, feel them, experience them. It is only by embracing negative feelings that you can then let them go, freeing yourself from their toxic hold.

What does this mean for you? It will free you from the impossible expectations, holding onto the concept that you may be able to control everything around you. It will release you from the guilt you feel about not controlling situations in your past – after all, the past is in the past. Most importantly, it will free you to focus on the things you CAN control.

How are you choosing to respond to life’s challenges? Are you choosing to play the victim, worried more about how you’re being hurt than what you can do to move forward in a positive way? Are you harboring anger and resentment, pointing fingers and spreading pain to those around you? Or, are you choosing to find the silver lining in even the darkest of times?

You can’t control life’s challenges, but you can learn from them. This is your opportunity to become a better, stronger and more capable version of yourself. You can find happiness in even the darkest times, you just have to choose to search for the light…