Most of us don’t learn through happiness; we learn through difficulties, and hard times present us with many opportunities to learn more about ourselves.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of financial blogs, and would like to take the best of what I’ve read and boil it down to a few ideas you might find useful.

Fall Down. Feel Bad. Get Back Up

If you lose your job (or your home or a big chunk of

Glee's Coach Beiste (Dot Marie Jones) and the football team watch their team lose.

Glee’s Coach Beiste (Dot Marie Jones) and the football team watch their team lose.

money), it’s okay to feel depressed for awhile, but, as quickly as you can, dig deep for your determination and drive. If you get laid off, you could immediately file for unemployment, update your LinkedIn profile and resume, while still feeling lousy.

Lousy feelings are normal, but don’t let them go on for too long. When things appear to fall apart, rebound as quickly as you can. There may be a silver lining in those clouds:  a layoff can be a wake-up call. Perhaps your field is no longer fulfilling or full of potential. Consider a new career; your life may get a whole lot better.

Grow your life like a Successful Business

The best businesses in the world prepare themselves for inevitable downturns. They diversify their income stream, stockpile a rainy day fund, make money during good times and keep their expenses low in bad times.  You are your own best asset. Make a nice, long list of all your good qualities and post it on your refrigerator door or by your computer. Read it before you go to a job interview. Be your own best cheerleader.

Don’t get complacent.  Keep growing.  When times are good, keep looking around for new things to do, new stuff to learn.  When times are tough, know that you can thrive even when others falter.

Fear Sells; Don’t Buy It

During the height of the Great Recession, the media made a difficult situation much worse by their constant fear-mongering. Would the stock market have fallen as much as it had without everyone being glued to the doomsday predictions of TV newscasts?

Most media are in business to maximize their advertising dollars, and negative news does that extremely well. It’s like a traffic accident by the side of the road, you don’t want to slow down and look, but it’s hard not to. Begin to consciously seek out more balanced media.  Go to several different sources and get a more balanced, big picture view.

It’s Not about Money

For most of us, it’s not the actual lack of money that messes with our heads, it’s the doomsday scenarios that we repeat and use to terrify ourselves.

Many of us are repeating the beliefs about money and prosperity (or lack of it) that we were raised with. We mirror Mommy and Daddy’s views of the world. If we were raised with, “You are smart and you will always do well in the world”, that’s great. However, too many of us were raised with, “It’s a mean old world out there.” or “People are gonna screw you, so screw them first”. These beliefs create a lousy relationship with money (and trusting people).

Money is energy, it is a means to an ends. We say we want money, but we really want the experience that we hope money will buy us.  All-too-often, the money doesn’t bring that good experience and we’re disappointed.  It’s not about the money; it’s about how happy and satisfied we are with what we’ve got.

Your Life is an Adventure that’s unfolding, not a Problem to be solved

As a psychotherapist, this is a crucial idea that I share with my clients. Your life is an adventure, a series of experiences that unfold over time. Some you have control over, many you do not.

Obsessively solving one problem after another is a stressful way to live. Instead, be curious, not desperate. Use divergent thinking to explore new possibilities: who knows where you can go from here? Convergent thinking is very focused but can often be too narrow. Don’t box yourself in.