You've heard people say, "everything happens for a reason," and they use the saying to raise their mood. If it is done a particular way, it can make you feel better and at the same time help you make the best of a situation. But I've heard people use the idea as a kind of fatalism, as a reason to do nothing, as a kind of lazy and passive determinism. It may make the person feel better at the moment, but in the long run, it won't. Fatalism is a form of helplessness, and feelings of helplessness can lead to depression.
Brian Tracy has what I think is a better saying: "Pretend the universe is in a conspiracy to make you happy and successful, and this is just what you need." This way of reframing a setback will improve your mood in the moment, and it will also raise your mood in the long run. It will help you learn and improve what you do in the future. It will help you make the most of whatever happens.
In the movie, The Game, Michael Douglas (and we, the viewers) have the uncanny experience of not knowing whether the things Douglas is going through are just bad luck or exactly what he needs to become happy. Douglas signed up for a life-changing experience that takes place in his own life rather than in a seminar room. He was a stuffy, bored rich man, and all kinds of bad luck suddenly leads him to become penniless and makes it necessary for him to rely on a waitress to survive. It is a humbling experience for him and that's exactly what he needed. He stops being stuffy, and he is no longer bored.
What circumstances do you have that you could look at in a new way? What unpleasant situation do you have? Is it teaching you something valuable? Could it, if you looked at it that way? Pretend the universe is in a conspiracy to help you become happier and more successful and look at your circumstances as the perfect thing to teach you what you need to learn.
Your ongoing mood has a lot to do with how things look to you. And how things look to you has a lot to do with how you look at things. You can use this to your advantage.
To learn more about changing your perspective in order to feel better, check out our book, Viewfinder.
Adam Khan is the author of Self-Help Stuff That Works and Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot.