I’m one of the happiest people I know.

But I’m not supposed to be happy, not by normal standards anyway.

I’m not rich.

I didn’t win the genetic lottery.

I don’t own my own home.

And I lost most of my life to addiction.

So why the hell am I so happy?

Simple. Because I focus on growth and progress.

Every situation is an opportunity to grow, especially negative ones.

Here are several examples from my own life:

I was addicted to heroin for 15 years, but today it is my greatest ally. The lessons I’ve learned have helped me to secure a substantial book deal. And by telling my story about how change is possible, I am hoping it will inspire others who need to change theirs.

The most painful night of my life was also the most important night of my life. It forced me to let go of my story, my ego, the one that protected my addiction, and I was able to start over.

My greatest fear when I went back to college was writing. I was terrible at English. I even struggled with emails. But it was a blessing in disguise. With a clean slate, and no bad habits, writing is now my greatest passion.

I had to get a part-time job after I went back to college. I delivered take-away food every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night for 3 years. It was a humbling experience, but it turned into 4000 hours of audio learning. I became immersed in personal development, devouring every audio book and podcast I could find. The insights learned have opened doors beyond my wildest dreams.

I now use this method to turn any negative into a positive:

When a negative thought pops into my head, I use it as a cue to replace it with a positive one.

When I’m around negative people, and I cannot remove myself from the situation, I use it as a chance to practice tolerance and compassion.

If a negative situation arises that I cannot change, I use it as an opportunity to practice acceptance.

I used to hate waiting in queue’s, but I don’t wait anymore. I meditate while standing in line, and often look forward to it.

You really can do this with anything…

If someone lets you down, it’s an opportunity to practice forgiveness.

If you fail at something you care about, it’s a chance to learn a valuable lesson.

If you’re delayed for an important meeting, it’s an opportunity to practice patience.

If your dog ‘really’ eats your assignment, it’s a chance to start with a clean slate… and do it better.

If you receive negative feedback, it’s an opportunity to learn.

If you’re feeling stuck on a project, it’s a chance to think creatively.

Every situation is an opportunity to grow, especially negative ones. As Ryan Holiday so eloquently puts it: “The obstacle is the way.”

Focus on progress, and you can turn any negative into a positive. And if you do this consistently, you’ll be unstoppable.

Do You FEAR Change?

If not, check out the FREE program I developed to make extraordinary changes in my recovery from long-term addiction.

Click here to get the program now.


  • Brian Pennie

    Brian is a PhD candidate studying the neuroscience of mindfulness, a practice that provided him with the foundations to recover from long-term addiction.

    On October 8th 2013, Brian experienced his first day clean after 15 years of chronic heroin addiction. Instead of perceiving his addiction as a failure, he embraced a second chance at life and went to university to study the complexities of human life. He graduated with a degree in psychology in 2017 winning several awards, including a fully funded PhD scholarship in Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. Since then, he has become a lecturer at University College Dublin, published academic writer, motivational speaker for mental health awareness, and personal development consultant in both commercial and private settings. With a relentless belief that we are what we think, his mission is to show people that change is possible, demonstrating actionable steps through a lived experience.