So much of this world is negative, bad and wrong. However, if we choose to stress about this fact, we waste precious moments to experience happiness, joy and blessings. We take a step toward greatness when we focus and share positivity instead of negativity, both in our lives and every place we dedicate our time.

Not one of us can say we never had a bad experience. Breakups, the death of a loved one, a horrible boss, being subjected to abuse – I’m sure you get the idea. Generally we all look back on these events through the lens of the stages of grief. We cycle in our own way through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Once we reach the acceptance phase of our grief, many of us choose to look at what we learned from the experience and apply that awareness to our future behavior. However, many never seem to reach acceptance and instead bury themselves in the “woe is me” mentality. This mode of thinking generally involves circular reasoning that drives these people to blame themselves because the negative events happened to them. While we can make mistakes in our lives, everything that happens to us cannot be our fault. It is statistically impossible.

I have a friend named Brenda who, for as long as I can remember, seemed to be depressed and despondent about her life. She never verbally reprimands herself. Instead, she chooses to blame everyone and everything else for her imperfect existence. Many of her lifelong pursuits have proven highly successful, but all Brenda can think about is what isn’t or hasn’t ever gone right. She makes it nearly impossible to enjoy happiness and joy in her life from the many blessings she has received. It’s sad and frustrating to hear when the tune never changes.

Happiness – joy – is a choice. No matter what we might go through, we can choose happiness. If that seems too hard, we have to fake it until we make it. Just think about this: if we have a roof over our heads we are better off than over 25% of the world’s population. If we have food in our stomachs, there are more than 925 million people all over the world who have it worse than us because they suffer from hunger. When you think about it, we have the luxury of going on a diet.

When do we kick ourselves in the butt and tell ourselves to get over it? A smile is the most precious and powerful gift we can give to others and to ourselves. A genuine smile comes from a hopeful heart. Sometimes hope is all we have, but hope drives us toward acts of greatness, charity and mercy. When we give freely to others, we inevitably become more content in our lives because we can’t focus on anything negative – we are too busy focusing on the positive.

Take a step toward happiness and you take a step toward greatness.

Author's Bio: 

Learn to Shine Your Light is led by Eve Rojas, MSSW, who shares her personal experiences and know-how to provide an enlightening perspective on how to approach life successfully.

Eve went through a deeply disturbing period in her life that caused a major depression. Strengthened by her experience, she believes completely that we each have power within us that exists beyond life’s trauma and stress. Eve shares the knowledge and skills she continues to develop each day to provide tools to help you learn to shine your light and claim your inner strength so you can better manage life’s ups and downs.

Eve relies on discernment and faith to follow the path in front of her and touch the souls of others. She possesses a Master of Science in Social Work with expertise in Social Enterprise Management from Columbia University. Eve also graduated with honors from Yale University.