Throughout the course of my life, I've had to overcome some pretty significant challenges. I grew up in a dysfunctional family and in an environment full of crime, poverty and bad influences that could have easily persuaded me to go down a very dark path.

I learned even at a young age, that no matter what life presents us, we still have choices. We are all given life and each and every one of us has the power to make it good or bad.

My grandmother always said I was born an optimist with a natural ability for seeing the goodness in all people and in all situations. If only my strength and positivity were contagious, it would spread like a virus, infecting people with kindness and happiness.

Her words have stuck with me over the course of my lifetime. A few years ago, I made the decision to share my thoughts and beliefs with others, in hopes of helping them overcome obstacles and living a happier, more fulfilling life.

Today, I am writing my article on my personal "golden" rules for finding strength, learning from experiences and being able to smile through it all.

First, understand that when you are rejected from something good, it often means you're being redirected to something better. Be patient. Be positive. Remember, no matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn't trying

Don't let one bad moment ruin your day. Think of it as a bad minute, not a bad day, and you'll be OK. Stress begins when your worry list is longer than your gratitude list. Happiness begins when your gratitude list is longer than your worry list. So find something to be thankful for today. Be sure to appreciate what you've got. Be thankful for the little things in life that mean a lot.

Always be a good role model. Integrity is choosing your actions based on moral values rather than personal gain. It's about living honorably. It's about doing the right thing, no matter what, even when nobody's going to know whether you did it or not. At the end of the day, your reputation is what other people know about you. Your honor is what you know about yourself.

Someone is always tuned into your voice and watching your actions. Kindness in words creates confidence and motivation. Kindness in thinking creates positivity and possibility. Kindness in giving creates strength and love. Through kindness you have the ability to make a profound difference in every life you touch, including your own.

When you guide someone who is lost and confused, when you hold someone who is sad and grieving, when you hug someone who has lost all their hope, you too will feel yourself healing and growing stronger.

No matter what your struggles are right now, you can always do something to help someone else. So do your little bit of good right where you are, because it's these little bits of good put together that will not only change you, but will also change the world.

Who you affect is more powerful than who you are at any given moment. Nothing is as enduring as a great memory. In the end, its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs and feelings that last. Stone cracks. Wood rots. Skin dies. But great thoughts, beautiful experiences, and inspiring legends... they live forever.

If you can change the way people think and feel, the way they see themselves, and the way they interpret the world, it means you can change the way they live their lives and how they affect others. That is, by far, the longest lasting thing you can create.

Accept that life isn't perfect. You will always be missing out on something. You simply can't have it all. Thus, it will always seem like something wonderful might be happening elsewhere. And that's OK. Let it go and realize you have everything right now. The best in life isn't somewhere else; it's right where you are at this moment. You have to accept that some things will never be yours and learn to value the things that are only yours.

Despite the struggles you'll inevitably face along the way, never give up on yourself. You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as capable as you have ever imagined. Keep going.

For more tips on how to live a happier, more fulfilling life, read "The Angel Affect" and join the mission on Facebook. The book is still available at local IGA Stores and on Amazon.com

The Angel Affect: Become it, let it become you, and great things will happen to you, for you and because of you.