Congrats! You’ve made it through years of classes and studying and are now ready to face the “real world”.  It can be a daunting and complicated place for recent graduates and there’s no doubt, you’ll face your share of difficulties. Companies will reject you. People will reject you. Your heart will be broken and your spirit might feel broken, too. Worries might keep you up at night and a problem or unrealized dream might cause you to feel incomplete and unhappy.

If you find yourself feeling down, keep the following in mind:

Rejection doesn’t have to hold you back. There are plenty of examples of people in our history who have failed only to then go on to reinvent themselves and achieve great success.

  • In 1995 an unknown writer by the name of J.K. Rowling who was on state welfare at the time, submitted her manuscript to 12 publishing houses before finally getting a book deal. 400 million books later and a global brand worth 15 billion dollars, J.K. Rowling epitomizes the rags-to-riches story.
  • At the age of 22, a young man was fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.” This man, Walt Disney, went on to be nominated for 59 Academy Awards and winning 32.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job in TV while working as an anchor in Baltimore. The reason: “Too emotionally invested in her stories.”
  • Stefani Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, was dropped by her record label, Island Def Jam after three months. Since then she has won multiple Grammy Awards, an Oscar, and other honors.

The take-away: Believe in yourself because I have no doubt, the people above did and never wavered. “What if I mess up the interview” and “What if I get rejected” are two of the most common refrains I hear from recent graduates. This thinking will sap you of the energy required to be positive and productive and will only set an unhealthy pattern for how you think about the many challenges that may lie ahead. So if you find yourself thinking this way, flip it on its head and remember: you have control over your outcome and fate and there’s no need to be the victim of your own circumstances and negative thinking.

Here’s how to thrive and be happy:

Maintain a positive outlook. Encountering negative events in life is normal. Know that they don’t define you; do your best to find the silver lining, and counter negative thoughts with positive ones. Change the way you think by nixing your negative thoughts and seeing problems as challenges and opportunities to learn something new. Think what’s possible, not what’s impossible.

Surround yourself with happy people. Happy people are also supportive, warm and giving. These qualities will encourage you to be happy too. Conversely, hanging out with miserable people will weigh you down and won’t allow you to focus on your own well-being and goals. So choose who will be part of your inner circle and lean on them when you need to.

Enjoy your work. Most people spend one-third of their day working. Those who enjoy their jobs and find them stimulating and meaningful look forward to going to work every day rather than dreading it. Find a career that will allow you to do the same.

Have a life outside of work and change how you view money. That’s right, be less focused on money and more on time. Many clients have sat in my office after being handed bad health news. It wasn’t more money that they wanted at the moment, it was time. Value it and strike a healthy balance between work and the other parts of your life.

Be flexible. Know that even the best laid plans sometimes don’t always go as hoped. Being able to adjust to change will help prevent disappointment.

Experience life. Do you remember material items you had years ago or things you experienced? My guess is the latter. It’s these that have a lasting place in our memories. Value them because they’re much more likely to lead to happiness than possessions ever could. Go out there and experience many things: trips, activities, people, food, culture and whatever adventures you can create.

Finally, find your inspiring person whom you can lean on for support, guidance, and motivation. Whether a friend, mentor, or relative, know that you are not alone in this world. Maintain perspective. Think about the course of a life. We might get 60, 70, 80, 90, or more years. It’s a long time.  However, compared to the age of the mountains and rivers that are millions of years old, our life is just a blink –– but what a blink it is. So go out there and make the most of it!

Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days by Jonathan Alpert.

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  • Jonathan Alpert

    Psychotherapist, executive performance coach, and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. Twitter: @JonathanAlpert

    Jonathan Alpert is a psychotherapist, columnist, performance coach and author in Manhattan. As a psychotherapist, he has helped countless couples and individuals overcome a wide range of challenges and go on to achieve success. He discussed his results-oriented approach in his 2012 New York Times Opinion piece, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already”, which continues to be debated and garner international attention. Alpert is frequently interviewed by major TV, print and digital media outlets and has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, FOX, and Good Morning America discussing current events, mental health, hard news stories, celebrities/politicians, as well as lifestyle and hot-button issues. He appears in the 2010 Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job commenting on the financial crisis. With his unique insight into how people think and their motivations, Alpert helps clients develop and strengthen their brands. He has been a spokesperson for NutriBullet, Liberty Mutual insurance, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Jonathan’s 2012 book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days has been translated into six languages worldwide. Alpert continues to provide advice to the masses through his, Huffington Post, and Thrive columns. @JonathanAlpert