“When you can’t change the situation, change your reaction to the situation.”

Personally this is one of my most favourite and influential quotes. Every single day we are faced with situations that we may not like. This is going to happen to everyone, everyday. Period.

So if we can’t stop bad things happening to us, how can we ever expect to be happy? The answer lies completely in the fact that we have the power to choose how we react to these unfavourable situations and events.

Take this example: Picture yourself driving down the road. You’re running late to an important meeting in town and the traffic is horrible. You are literally crawling forward and the congestion doesn’t look like it’s going to reduce any time soon. How do you react? You can cuss, curse and complain and allow yourself to become rattled, only to arrive to work in the same amount of time and off your game. OR you can choose to take a deep breathe, accept the fact that any form of anger won’t improve the situation, learn from the situation so that next time you leave a little earlier, get to work in the same amount of time, apologize and take responsibility for being late and continue your day in a positive frame of mind.

Which reaction to you think will bring you more happiness in the long run? By any means I am not saying that reacting favourably to negative situations is easy, but, like all habits it can be learned when conscious effort and practice is applied.

All we can do in life is make mistakes and learn from them so that we can minimize the mistakes we make in the future. If something goes wrong, accept it, learn from it and don’t make the same mistake again. By doing this you can learn to control your reactions when faced with adversity and act in a way that is both more productive and better for you overall.

The next time something goes wrong follow this three step process:

  1. Accept that it’s happened and that it’s not going to change.
  2. If you did something that could have been avoided, learn from it.
  3. Move on.

This process requires self awareness and deliberate internal thought in order to realize that when faced with a negative situation it is a) out of your control and b) knowing that you have complete control over how you react to it.

The simple realization of the fact that many things in life are out of our control, yet our reactions are under our control has had a profound impact on my life. Is this something that you can apply to bring more happiness to your life?

Remember, when you can’t control the situation, control your reaction to it.