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It’s hard, I know. You are making an attempt to be relentlessly optimistic and positive. You are doing your best to improve yourself every day and with every interaction. You have a general desire to add value to other’s lives. Inevitably someone or something will attempt to rain on your good vibes parade. Don’t let them. Instead stay the course and chase your happiness.

Every day some hater or detractor will pop out of the bushes and test your mettle. It can be a stranger you just cross paths with. It may be a hostile coworker or three. It can even be a friend or a family member. The worst of them all is when it’s yourself.

There are a few important questions to ask as we learn to process these negative interactions.

#1. Is it me or is it them?

I always start reflecting on a low value interaction by asking this question. How’s my body language? I may have said all the right things with genuine intentions, but my body or my vocal tonality may have told an entirely different story. Perhaps this person is still harboring resentment over a previous negative or low value interaction we’ve had. Maybe they are having a tough day emotionally.

Maybe they are just an asshole. Quite possibly this person is just a low value person and nothing you say or do will make them happy or even content. There are a lot of miserable people in the world. Beware of them because these types are magnets for drama. They are generally losers that you will not want to be associated with.

I’ve heard it said that we are all an average of the five closest people in our lives. Do you want twenty percent of that perceived average to be coming from a person with zero percent value? Your own value quality average will cap at eighty percent with just one asshole close to your life.

When you have to ask yourself “Is it me or them?” often with just one person and rarely elsewhere then you are dealing with someone else who may be the problem and not yourself.

If you have to ask it often with different people look for ways to continually assess yourself. Look for opportunities of improvement in yourself. Are you talking too much and not really listening? Do you brag about meaningless stuff? Are you good at showing genuine positivity and appreciation to those you interact with? Continually perform checks on how you are carrying yourself. Check your surroundings, your job, your social circles and look for consistencies in the inconsistencies of negative interactions.

#2. What is the feedback I am receiving? Does it even matter?

“People have been talking about you.” “So and so doesn’t like you.” “I do not respect you.” These are some of the things I have heard recently despite my best efforts to walk a positive path in life.

Usually this type of feedback comes from the aforementioned haters. Take what they say with a grain of salt if at all. They may have heard genuine negative buzz about you. They may have even created it through perpetuating gossip and commiserating. We all vent at times. Sometimes one of your friends, associates, or even your companions will dish negatively on you to your detractors. The friend just needed an ear to vent some steam to in a low value moment of their own. We all have them. The detractor will use this as ammunition to try to knock you down a few rungs

Forgot the detractors. You will not interact with them unless absolutely necessary and you will do so in a minimalist and dispassionate fashion. Lets ‘s move past the haters to those who really matter.

If the people talking are truly of value then they will bring the feedback to you directly. Sometimes you have to dig and have a real conversation to get the goods. Be prepared. You may not like what you hear, but you need to hear it. Knowing how you are perceived by trusted others will allow you to adjust your own game plan to become the person you want to be. You may not make the exact adjustments your advisor is suggesting, but you will feel better prepared to adjust your own self accordingly if you determine it is needed.

Remember the point is chasing your happiness and not someone else’s.

#3. What did I learn from this?

Did I forget to smile when I said hello to that feisty coworker? Did I forget to cut this person who is incessantly negative and always taking out of my life? Does my breath smell bad preventing me to connect?

You may take some strange and sometimes funny things away from your reflections. You may ask what you’ve learned and realize it was absolutely nothing. When you find those areas where you can and want to improve you will feel good about the progress you are making. This is much better than the alternative of wondering why this person does not like you.

#4. How do I get as quickly as possible back to my happiness?

Two statements that will inevitably make it easier to find your happiness. You will not please everyone and not everyone will like you. I’m not sorry for telling you the truth. Get past this and improve your time and emotional input with those who really matter.

I’m reading Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week right now and he claims eighty percent of our problems come from twenty percent of the people in our life. Inversely he goes on that eighty percent of our happiness also comes from twenty percent of the people in our life. What if we all spent one hundred percent of the time with the latter and completely cut off the former? That sounds like a recipe for happiness to me.

My happiness starts with myself. If I start my day with a stretch, relaxed and smiling, my day will most likely continue and end like that. If I start my day hunched over and growling at people they generally will reply in kind. If the happiness gets derailed and I find myself in a negative interaction I try to recover and get back on track to happiness as quickly as possible. If I mess up I own it and apologize. This not only makes me happier, but it goes a long way in terms of interpersonal development.

As I chase happiness I try to avoid drama. I try to recover both emotionally and socially from it when it inevitably happens. I must maintain my relentless optimism even when things don’t look very good. I try to stay above the neutral emotional baseline{1} even when a haters drops down from the trees like ninjas to crap on my day. I can seize my happiness. I believe you can do it as well.

{1}Welcome to Failing Upwards

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