Several years ago I was dealing with severe sinus problems, felt drained all the time, never seemed to be enjoying what I was doing, even what I previously would have called fun. I had no energy to pursue the career I wanted. I blamed my situation on what was happening with other people in my life. I believed that if only they could get their lives in a better place, then I could get on with my life. "When do I get my life?" was a frequent refrain of mine.

Since those days I have identified some key beliefs, ways of thinking, that were stopping me from getting my life to be the way I wanted it to be. Other people in my life were not stopping me. I was stopping myself. Today as a self-help lecturer, I continually meet people who wish their lives could be better. Like me they may be in situations that they would not have chosen, and they are blaming their lack of happiness on their situation, perhaps on another person. I've been there, and I know how that feels? not good. It makes us become victims instead of people in charge of our own lives. How do we reclaim our lives, take back control, and become happy, contented individuals?

Every day of our lives we are busy making judgements about things, deciding if what is happening is good for us or bad for us. When we decide that it is bad for us, then we can become very unhappy and feel that we will never get our life as we would like it to be. For example, as I sit her writing this article, it is snowing outside. I immediately make a judgment about that; in my case, I decide that is not a good thing for me because I live at the top of a hill and may have difficulty getting home when I go out later. So, by choosing to think of the snow negatively, I have kept myself from being content. I have given the snow control over my life. If, instead, I look out at the snow and think how lovely it is, my emotions will be entirely different, and my view of my life will be entirely different.

If we can only be happy when life is going as we would like it to go, we are in for some rocky roads indeed. I now see that many of my problems over the years were a direct result of my feeling bad every time someone or some situation was not going the way I wanted it to go. I was busy making judgments that things were not good for me. As I began to be able to look at things differently, to try to catch my judgments and stop the negative ones, my life improved considerably.

In order to do that I had to make one other major attitude shift. I had to decide that my life is not determined by what others do. I am not responsible for another person's happiness, and equally as important, they are not responsible for mine We all have choices about how we choose to think about something. We can choose how we want to think about anything. We can look for blessings, learn to find the good. Or we can look for the bad. The choice indeed is ours. When we change our minds, we do change our lives.

Author's Bio: 

Shirley A. Mahood has been lecturing on self-help topics for over ten years, both in the United States and in England. She is also the author of the book MAKING OUR LIVES WORK, Strategies to Lessen Stress and Build Self-Esteem. Her book can be ordered from or from the author. To contact Shirley, please visit her website at or e-mail her at