We have a lot of control over whether to take a positive or a negative approach to events. We can't control how we feel about things that happen to us - but we can control what we do about those feelings, and how we approach those situations.
Let's take an example we all know well: someone rejects a piece of our writing. In terms of how this feels: it's horrible, it hurts, it's like a kick in the guts, it's infuriating, depressing, frustrating, and generally leaves us feeling thoroughly miserable. Then we can choose how to approach this. We can sit and cry; ring friends and family/write blog posts to enlist support and consolation; disappear under the duvet and refuse to talk to anyone; binge on chocolate or wine; listen to the inner voices pointing out smugly how crap we are; and so on. Or we can see it as an opportunity to improve the piece of writing and resubmit it elsewhere; console ourselves with recollections of the number of rejections experienced by hugely successful writers like Jasper Fforde and JK Rowling; share the news with a friend who's feeling low, to give him/her scope for some cheering schadenfreude; do some vigorous exercise to bring on the endorphins; listen to the inner voices assuring us that each rejection is a step nearer acceptance; etcetera.
In my case it's usually a bit of both, but I do try to choose a positive approach as much as I can. This doesn't mean I try to be happy when I'm not, although I do find that being positive sometimes helps me feel a little happier - or slightly less miserable. I've been interested in the positives people have found in the recession, which range from 'no junk mail from credit card companies' (have you noticed?) through 'greater creativity' to 'more sex' (!). Recession positives also demonstrate that the positive approach you take depends on your attitudes in general. For example, some people find a positive aspect to the recession in 'reduced materialism', while for others it's 'more great bargains in the shops'. Another example is that the recession leads to fewer cars on the road, which for some people is 'beneficial to the environment' while for others it's 'a chance to drive around more without so many traffic jams'.
Some experiences make it more difficult to take a positive approach because of their massive negative emotional impact. Examples include chronic physical or mental illness, redundancy, relationship breakdown, or bereavement. But it can still be done. One of the most inspiring examples for me came from my dear friend Polly, whose husband killed himself some years ago. She rang to tell me the news, distraught, all over the place, as you would expect, yet during our conversation, she said to me 'Queenie, you know what, I'm learning so much from this.'