The most important lesson I’ve learned from living on this planet is what any happy, successful, optimistic person knows about life: that we will all experience good times and bad times, that we will all have sad days and happy moments, that nothing in life is permanent, and that our success and happiness depends on our ability to ride these waves of change with composure.
Happy, successful, optimistic people are not exempt from the trials and tribulations of life. In fact, some of the happiest, most successful and optimistic people I know have had to overcome unbelievably difficult circumstances to get to where they are today. But what they all have in common is their uncanny ability to shift their focus to a higher part of themselves.
They allow themselves to temporarily step away from those moments that are bringing them down or are causing them pain and immediately begin to focus on aspects of their lives that bring them joy and lift their spirits. They feel blessed for the things that life has given them rather than curse the things life has denied them or the unwanted things life is throwing at them.
They find the laughter during tough times and sometimes even during the worst times. But they don’t just put on blinders and ignore that they are going through a difficult time—they instinctively know when to shift their mindsets to something that will put them on a more productive path. In reality, we all have the power to do this. And it’s what I call a “power shift in focus.”
Being able to create a power shift in focus is one habit that can have a tremendous impact on your life. Why? Because it’s a direct answer to the question life is always asking of you: Who do you think you are?
You can’t stop life from throwing stuff at you. You can’t stop the unexpected from interfering with your goals and dreams. But you can choose how to respond.
When you temporarily step away from challenging situations and steer your attention to something that makes you feel good, you are thereby replenishing your spirit and nourishing your soul, the very essence of who you are. You are recharging your inner battery with the emotional fortitude needed to forge ahead. When you do go back to face the situation that is causing unease in your life, which inevitably you must do, you will feel less overwhelmed and the answers will come to you more readily. This is because you’ve calmed your nervous system down to the point where you can embrace the situation, rather than have the situation control you.
You can’t stop life from throwing stuff at you. You can’t stop the unexpected from interfering with your goals and dreams. But you can choose how to respond. You can always choose to shift to a healthier state of mind when unwanted things happen. People who are happy, successful and optimistic know that, no matter what happens, life still goes on and they can choose to focus on things that empower them. They refuse to give up their right to enjoy life. And guess what? So can you.
A power shift in focus, even if only for a very few moments, can have a profound effect on how you cope with any challenge and help you understand the great duality of life. In other words, you can’t know true peace until you’ve experienced chaos. You can’t know joy unless you’ve felt pain. Conversely, no matter how many tears may fall, there is still room for a smile, and even laughter. You must experience one end of the emotional spectrum to fully appreciate the other. A power shift in focus is a skill that nourishes your soul and significantly changes how you view life. It can be improved with practice and is a key to creating a happy life for yourself.
So practice a power shift in focus. Temporarily step away from those moments that are bringing you down and focus on aspects of yourself that lift you up. Bless the things that life has given you, rather than cursing what you are lacking. And always find the laughter during tough times. This is what happy, successful, optimistic people know.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.