Challenging life events and difficult circumstances happen to everyone. No matter who you are or where you grew up, there will be multiple times in your life when every task feels like a struggle to complete. It's like you're swimming against the current and no matter how fast you swim, you can't make it back to your original destination.

Responding to difficult situations takes a lot of emotional energy. It can be draining to constantly feel like everything you do is small in comparison to the situations causing distress. Many people fall victim to anxiety, depression, and emotional burnout. While it's completely normal for that to happen, some people tend to work through those challenges faster than others.

The main difference between people that recover faster and are generally happier than others is mindset and behavior. After all, you can't control much of the difficult things that life will throw your way, you can only control what you do after life sends a knock-out punch.

Here are 10 things happy people don't do when life gets challenging:

1. Pretend that nothing is wrong and that everything is fine.

This may seem counterintuitive, but happy people don't pretend they're doing well when they're suffering. They wear their emotions on their sleeve so that others are on notice--aware that the the person is going through difficult times and may need assistance.

Happy people allow space for themselves to experience whatever thoughts and feelings are happening. They observe these thoughts and feelings without feeling the need to judge or condemn themselves for not feeling great.

2. Isolate and close themselves off from other people.

Many people isolate themselves when overwhelmed with strong emotions. Unfortunately, pulling away from others prevents other people from understanding, empathizing, and helping you.

Instead of shutting down, challenge yourself to communicate well with others. This not only shares the burden of bad news, it also provides you with a support network to get you through the tough time.

3. Spend excessive time ruminating on the past.

It's easy to get caught in the trap of thinking about the why's and the how's about your situation. However, staying stuck in the past doesn't alleviate your suffering in the moment. You need to be present in the here-and-now to address your reaction to the event and get yourself back on track.

4. Spend excessive time worrying about the future.

Thinking about the future is easy to do, especially when things aren't going your way. It's important to keep in mind that the only power you have is the ability to decide what action you're taking right now.

5. Consider themselves to be broken beyond repair.

No matter what happens, you always have enough strength and perseverance to overcome any obstacle.

6. Overwork or intellectualize to avoid their feelings.

Trying to over-think or over-work to hide your thoughts and feelings only leads to a buildup of emotional energy. This emotional energy becomes displaced, or placed onto someone or something else, or it results in physical (psychosomatic) problems.

7. Use drugs and alcohol to numb their pain.

Temporary escapes, much like avoidance, only increase long-term suffering.

8. Blame others for their current circumstances.

Happy people take accountability and responsibility for their actions. Instead of blaming others or themselves for their current situation, they acknowledge that some things are outside of their control.

9. Feel guilty for not being at their best.

Happy people know that all things--good and bad--wax and wane. They trust in life and in themselves that they will be able to take actions that will lead to a better today and a more enjoyable tomorrow.

10. Think too much about other people's needs.

Happy people know that it's not selfish to take care of themselves. They know that they give much of their enthusiasm to their friends and family, and recognize that it's not selfish to receive love, support, and compassion back during their time of need.

Challenge yourself to not fall victim to upsetting circumstances by making things more difficult for yourself. Go with the flow, be who you are, and practice the self-compassion you afford others. You are a valuable one-of-a-kind person, no matter what you're going through.

Published on: Mar 16, 2017