It's an old adage, blunt in its brevity and true in every sense of the world.

It stretches across many cultures, from the Japanese "shogunai" (it can't be helped) to the Latin phrase "C'est la vie" (That's life).

In typical American fashion, we in the States put things a little more crassly.

Think "Forrest Gump," bumper stickers and baby diapers: "shit happens."

This notion can free us from so many of our problems. When a disaster strikes, you can get tyrannical and demand someone's head for your problems; or, you can more easily just take it as one of those things that happens.

So long as no one is hurt at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Sometimes you can learn a lesson from a situation, sometimes you can't. But so much of the things that happen to us are beyond our control.

We can't control the economy, we can't control the weather and we sure can't control other people. Don't get worked up about it when something doesn't go to plan.

The most successful people in history weren't super detailed planners who would control their rise to greatness, but rather people who reacted with poise when things took an unexpected turn. They said, oh well, that's just how the cookie crumbles – how are we going to fix this? Getting super emotional is practically never the appropriate response to any situation. Sit back, chill out and wait for the details to come in.

Whether a tornado sucks up your house or your truck gets towed or someone steals beer out of your fridge or your football team loses, getting pissed off and freaking out accomplishes nothing other than damaging your credibility.

Getting angry won't make the tornado feel bad and put your house back, and from my experience with the tow truck workers, they are about as likely as the tornado to return your truck. All you can do is try to learn from the situation so something similar doesn't happen again. Don't park illegally, don't live with people who are too lame to replace the beer they "borrow," and next week show up to the game and cheer twice as loud. That's all you can do.

If you're willing to be mature about it, negatives can always become positives. Most people are so busy feeling sorry for themselves and wanting to get attention that they can't learn from anything. So, your boyfriend cheated on you. Honestly, get over it. It certainly doesn't mean that the next guy is going to; the one who cheated is worthless. Learn from the situation and don't date guys with similar characteristics in the future.

People struggle with struggles constantly; it's natural. Oh please, tell me more about how it's your professor's fault that you failed your class. That's my favorite, because people say this to me after they spend the whole semester asking me what they missed in class. Putting the blame on your professor just leaves you vulnerable to get put in the same situation again. Take the blame, internalize it, man up and don't err again.

It's a lesson you will all learn at some point. Unfortunate circumstances are going to happen – there is no way over, below or around them. Just go through it and don't get phased. Stay calm, be mature and learn from the situation.

Try to find a way to make it into a positive, and if you can't, find a way to protect yourself from something similar happening again.

Nate Talbot is a senior in mechanical engineering. He can be reached at ntalbot1@utk.edu