THE BLOG
02/18/2016 12:54 pm ET Updated Feb 18, 2017

How Owning the Negative Will Lead to a More Positive Life

When the going gets tough, we're not imagining it. Life's challenges are very real. And what we do with such challenges speaks volumes about our own level of personal happiness.

The good news is that the choice is ours when it comes to how much or how little we allow such challenges to impact our lives. On one hand, we can use our time and energy to attempt to fight off the inevitable. On the other hand, we can face our reality head on and use the experience as a stepping stone for self-growth.

Thanks to the ego, the latter may be more difficult for some to arrive at than others. But it can be achieved through a mindset of personal accountability, which involves the belief that we are fully responsible for our own actions and their consequences. When we are accountable, we have an internal motivation to succeed no matter what may be standing in our way. People with this quality are naturally the most happy and engaged because they understand that they (and they alone) control their outcomes. They resist the urge to blame others or external factors for their shortcomings and use their time and resources to, instead, make a positive impact.

The unfortunate irony that comes with personal accountability is the stigma that's associated with it. Often times, we think of accountability as a sign of weakness that involves assigning blame for poor results. But in reality, accountability is incredibly empowering as it reaffirms that we are, in fact, the architects of our own lives - regardless of our circumstances.

You see, pointing to others or less than perfect conditions as the primary culprits for our lack of success falsely gives them the upper hand and more credit than they deserve in the matter. But when we are accountable, we take that power back and have the opportunity to use it to make a positive difference.

So how can we achieve a mindset of personal accountability for a happier life? By embracing and exemplifying these 4 factors:

1. Commitment -- The willingness to do whatever it takes to get your desired results
2. Resilience -- The ability to "stay the course" in the face of obstacles and setbacks
3. Ownership -- Full acceptance of the consequences of your actions with no blame or argument
4. Continuous Learning -- Using both success and failure as fuel for future growth

My recommendation? It's easy to let things slip, so pay attention and keep score along the way to ensure you remain accountable over time. A great way to do this is to examine how you handle life's ups and downs. When things go well, do you attribute it to something you did directly? Like most of us, you probably do. But what about when things don't go as planned? Do you look to others or yourself for answers as to why that might have happened? If you're still looking to yourself, your accountability is likely very high. But if you tend to place blame on outside circumstances or other people, this double standard could mean your level of personal accountability is waning and there is work to be done to get back on track.

Keeping an accountable attitude will be a conscious decision that, for some, takes a bit of work, but I can assure you it will be one that you won't regret.