Here is my philosophy in a nutshell: Bad things happen to all of us. We may not get to pick what happens, but we get to choose how we respond. When seemingly horrible times arise, turn it into something positive with the following steps.

Take responsibility.

Choose to be 100 percent accountable for the state of your life. Living your happiest life is in your hands, dependent only on how you choose to view events that occur and how you respond. It may feel easier to rely on others or external circumstances to make you happy, but you’re playing with fire. You can’t control the thoughts and behaviors of other people. But whose can you choose? Yours, baby!

Ditch the blame and regret.

Quit carrying around unnecessary baggage. Blame and regret are useless. They render you powerless when you are not. Every one of us does the best we can with what we have and know at any given moment. If you screwed up something in the past, own up to it and be done with it. I guarantee it served you somehow.

Acknowledge your feelings without judgement.

If you’re feeling down, bitter, angry or are in a negative state, stop beating yourself up for feeling the way you do. Often the pressure we put on ourselves to feel differently than we do is worse than the negative feeling itself.

Think in terms of what you want.

Do you spend the majority of your time thinking about what you don’t want and what’s wrong? What you focus on expands. Every time you catch yourself ruminating about what is wrong with your life, stop your thought pattern and start asking, “What do I want?” You will be amazed at what answers and opportunities present themselves when you begin asking the right questions.

Make your happiness a priority.

Studies show that every aspect of the human body functions better when we’re in a postive mental place. What makes you happy? What do you enjoy? Start doing more of those things without guilt. You were literally designed for happiness. If you feel the people around you don’t make your happiness important, it’s probably because you don’t place enough importance on it. Set some time aside for yourself and what you like.

Set an example.

It’s been said that the best way to help the poor is not to become one of them. The same is true for happiness. The happier you choose to live, the more you positively affect those around you. It is highly contagious. Don’t get caught in the trap of hiding your accomplishments or what makes you happy for fear of those around you feeling jealous or worse about their own lives. Those who love you will be happy for you and be inspired. The rest? You don’t need or want people in your life who bring you down. As a parent, live your life by example. Your child will get older and live a similar life as you. Do you want him growing up living in sacrifice and feeling guilty about being happy, or do you want him experiencing happiness?

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