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How To Turn Any Negative Into A Positive

Using challenges as fuel and focus on growth

Brian Pennie, PhD
4 min readFeb 22, 2023


I’m not rich. I didn’t win the genetic lottery. And I lost most of my life to heroin addiction. So why the hell am I so happy? Simple. Because I use challenges as fuel and focus on growth.

Every situation is an opportunity to grow, especially difficult ones. Here are several examples from my own journey:

I lost 15 years of my life to heroin addiction, but today it is my greatest ally. The lessons I’ve learned have helped me to become a doctor of psychology, a neuroscientist, a best-selling author, and the founder/CEO of my own company. More importantly, by telling my story about how change is possible, I’m 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. By giving up the fight, I stopped resisting reality, and I was able to see the world from a completely new perspective.

My greatest fear when I went back to University 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, I learned from the bottom up, and writing is now my greatest passion.

To finance myself through University, I delivered takeaway food every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night for three years. At 35 years of age, it was a humbling experience, but it turned into over 4000 hours of audio learning. I devoured every audiobook and podcast I could find, and the insights learned have opened up doors beyond my wildest dreams.

I’ve learned many lessons throughout my life, but the biggest one was this:

Life is full of challenges, but if you look hard enough, you can use them as fuel for growth.

I now use this method to turn any negative into a positive. When I fail at something I care about, I use a chance to learn a valuable lesson. When a negative thought pops into my head, I use it as a cue to replace it with a positive one. When I receive negative feedback, I use it as an opportunity to learn. When I get…



Brian Pennie, PhD

Change is possible. I write to show that | Recovered heroin addict turned doctor.