If you have seen the latest Pixar film, Inside Out, then you have been reminded of an easily forgotten fact: It's easy to stay positive when things go well. When life isn't throwing much but good things your way, how hard can it really be to find the silver lining of every situation?

The problem that I--and most others--have, however, isn't whether or not we stay happy when life gives us good things. It's learning how to find a way to be positive when we have absolutely no reason to be.

First things first, I've learned that it's absolutely imperative to address whatever negative thoughts we may have. It doesn't make sense to ignore our feelings of sadness and disappointment. We must address our experiences in the clearest manner possible in order to properly grow from them.

Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania has found that the difference between optimists and pessimists is actually quite simple. Pessimists often attribute their failures to their own personal shortcomings, which they feel they no longer have the ability to fix. Optimists, on the other hand, regard failure as an experience from which they can learn--a way they can grow as people.

When something feels bad, it's OK to let yourself feel bad. Even the most successful among us have off days, and on those days we should acknowledge the things that went wrong.

We always forget to allow ourselves that luxury.

After reflecting on the past unfortunate events or circumstances in our lives, however, there is no more reason to continue indulging in our negative feelings. Making that distinction when we feel down, however, is always easier said than done.

Retrain your mind to see the struggles you encounter every day as opportunities to grow in some small way. Let yourself think, "I just can't do this," and feel momentarily frustrated before taking a closer look at what you can do to ameliorate the situation in the future.

Don't get so caught up in your current failure that you forget how far you have already come.

As long as you keep your situation in perspective, it's all right to feel whatever you need to in the moment. Just know that, in order for things to get better, you need to learn how to treat your mistakes as chances to learn.

Each of us has only one life to live. Why fill it with regret?

Published on: Jul 2, 2015