It’s not easy seeing your happy go lucky friends every time you see them. You want the same but aren’t really sure how to go about it. One fundamental mistake we all make is that we see happiness as an end goal rather than a journey. Nothing in life is static and just like we get our positive moments, we also get negative experiences to remind us to cherish the good.
Negative experiences are also life lessons for us to learn how to develop ourselves, to make us better people. Sometimes, we need to also learn to let go of those pesky habits we’ve held onto for so long as a comfort blanket that we don’t realise it’s holding us back from experiencing happiness.
This article from Sharing With You was a wake up call for me. It instantly brought to mind how without realising it, I was somehow expecting some of those habits to help me be a better person, thereby bringing me happiness.
Here’s 10 habits we need to recognise and try and lose today.
1. Waiting for clarity.
My perfectionist self and upbringing told me I needed to graduate from secondary school, attend a good University and be employed in a recognised profession with a good salary (like a teacher, lawyer or doctor) or enrol in a postgraduate degree before pursuing a worthwhile career. Life isn’t static.
We can’t plan our lives and expect it to behave how we want it to. Life is a journey and while we can make it our target to be in a respectable career path, we sometimes need to take less-worn paths to find our way. We might even find that career as a lawyer wasn’t really right after all, but it doesn’t matter. Take the experiences you’ve learned on your journey to shape your path.
2. Seeking permission from others.
Would you let someone else tell you where to go, what you do, how you dress and what you eat? Why would we want someone to tell us how to feel? You are in charge of your own happiness. If it makes you happy, don’t let the opinion of others change your mind about what you’re set on. The same caveat I add to all similar posts remain the same: as long as it makes you happy and no one else comes to hurt/harm from it, do what makes you happy.
3. Hoping for future salvation.
Remember what I said above, that you might reach that final goal of becoming a lawyer and realising it’s not for you? Wants are endless, you’re never going to stop wanting for something better once you’ve reached a milestone. Find happiness within yourself; if you can’t be happy with who you are and what you’ve already achieved, earning that promotion won’t make you a happier person. Sure it earns you more money, but it also comes with more responsibilities and stress. The happiness you experience from that promotion is temporary.
Think about what your skills can help you achieve and what you want to remember when you’re retired and retelling stories about your life to your grandchildren.
4. Wanting to take big leaps.
Patience is a virtue. We’ve all had days when we just want to reach the end goal because it’s taking too long. The roadtrip seems to be endless with no goal in sight.
STOP for a minute to admire the scenery. Appreciate what’s around you. You’ll find beauty in all the small details surrounding you, in your environment and in the acts of kindness from others. Your journey will develop skills you already have, hone them to make it better and you’ll earn new ones which will be useful to you at some point in the future.
5. Having faulty expectations.
This doesn’t mean you need to rethink your expectations about the future. What needs rethinking is when and where your happiness comes from. Your enthusiastic friend who’s brimming with excitement isn’t happy all the time. You only see them on certain days of the week, month or even in the year. Every one goes through downfalls and happy moments. Unless they openly talk to you about the struggles they’ve been through since you last saw them, you won’t always get an indication from others that something went wrong at all. That’s the way of public personas – we always present ourselves in the best light possible so we don’t come across as weak in public.
6. Taking your thoughts seriously.
Those words in your head telling you not to listen to your heart, that money is more important to let you live the way you want, sometimes they’re not worth listening to. Coming from me who’s mind is constantly filled with thoughts and rationalisations, it’s not easy getting those thoughts to quiet. Take a deep breath and let your mind fill with calm. You can make a conscious decision about what’s best for you without your mind bringing you down.
7. Playing things safe.
Our insecurities and uncertainty over the future is speaking up, but will not taking the risk make you happy? Will you ever question yourself if you didn’t take that step forward? It’s one of my fail-safe methods: Whenever I experience a moment of doubt, I think to myself ‘What if…?’ If I don’t like the outcome of not taking that risk, I’ll do it. I would take that step forward to make a positive change in my life I know I won’t regret. Even if it didn’t turn out the way I expected, at least I can say I tried.
8. Focusing on lack.
Sometimes we end up focusing on the mistakes we made rather than the positive lessons we learned from that experience and what the actual experience taught us. We focus on the experience itself, always wondering where we went wrong, how we could’ve prevented it. It’s happened and we can’t change the past. You took the leap of faith hoping for the best, but even if it didn’t work out you tried your best.
Focus instead on what you learned from the experience and how if you were confronted with a similar experience how you can react differently in the future. Look forward towards the future, not to the past.
9. Resisting obstacles.
I’m not a religious person, I’m not committed to one particular deity, but I do believe that everything in life happens for a reason. Every now and then, we come across a big hurdle that seems too big to jump. What would you do?
If we didn’t have obstacles in our path, we would never learn to appreciate the things we’ve achieved in our smooth-sailing life. Obstacles also make us better people for getting through difficult situations and we’ll have learned new experiences and skills. Don’t let that boulder stop you from continuing on your path. Find a way around it.
10. Neglecting your calling.
We’re brought up in a society where children are expected to have an idea of what their future career will be…when they’re still in primary school. We’re looking towards higher goals for our seniors to appreciate and respond to in a positive manner, but when we don’t know what we want in the moment, how do we experience happiness when we’re overwhelmed with the amount of work still to be achieved before that day?
Let go of what you’re expected to do and listen to what your heart tells you. Does what you’re doing make you happy? Are you happy right now? We need to be happy with what’s right in front of us, otherwise we will continue to look to the future with dark-shade glasses and missing the beautiful world we live in.
Happiness is not something you get, but something you are. What’s stopping you from being happy is taking your thoughts too seriously.
It’s not easy. It’s a practice. Sometimes it takes time.
But notice that even the rush to get it right is a thought. Let it be.
Do your best.
Follow your heart.
And remember to breathe.
Our bad habits are just obstacles stopping us from continuing on our journey. Happiness is everywhere and it won’t always be there. We will encounter negative experiences but when we overcome these hurdles, we can look back and tell ourselves: ‘I did it’ with pride.