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Everyone wants to be happy. But there are a lot of things that can get in the way of that, and they often happen without our realizing it. We wake up in the morning feeling good about life, go off to work or school with energy and enthusiasm for what’s ahead, then by lunchtime, we feel like everything is going wrong.
This doesn’t have to be so! It might just mean you need some help identifying your personal habits of misery; the kind of thoughts and behaviors which lead you down the path to unhappiness. Once you know how these seven habits operate on your mind and body, you can start changing them one at a time: breaking free from their grip once and for all.
In the classic novel “Anna Karenina,” Leo Tolstoy writes that a pessimist is someone who sees a difficulty in every opportunity and an obstacle in every desire. This outlook sets the mind up to expect the worst outcome from any situation and when it comes true, as it inevitably will, you might start to think there must be something inherently flawed with you.
But really, pessimism just means habitually expecting failure and disappointment.
Maybe it’s because of your upbringing or education; maybe it’s because you had such high expectations for yourself at one point that anything less seems like a letdown, or maybe you just haven’t found that thing you love doing so much that it makes everything else seem unimportant.
Whatever the reason, pessimism can be broken down simply by seeking out opportunities to change your mindset. If you come across anything in your day-to-day life that’s unexpected a good grade on a test, an act of kindness from someone you don’t know, or even just a beautiful sunset, take advantage of it.
Orient yourself toward these moments instead of resenting them for not happening more frequently, and soon enough pessimism will become a thing of the past!
Nobody’s perfect not even geniuses like Albert Einstein or Bill Gates or Mozart. This may sound obvious when you’re talking about historical figures, but perhaps you’ve had a less than stellar day and want to convince yourself that if only you could go back in time and be just a little more prepared, you would have been perfect.
This habit of thinking is perfectionism; it looks at the present moment as an opportunity missed instead of one for growth or improvement. While some amount of striving for success can be useful on your path to happiness, too much can lead to feeling discouraged when things don’t go your way.
If this sounds familiar, try taking a step back and looking at what you need to do first: maybe it’s learn something new, fix a problem with someone else or simply relax and enjoy yourself! Whether it’s turning to knowledge when you feel insecure or treating yourself to a small indulgence when you want to impress others, letting go of the pressure to be perfect can transform your experience in positive ways.
When was the last time you took more on than you could handle? Maybe someone asked you to organize the office party and instead of saying “no” or asking for help with it, you jumped at the opportunity and then spent days putting out fires all over the office because you didn’t get enough done on time.
Or maybe it was an athletic team where everyone expected you to captain because they knew how great a job you did organizing everything else. There may even been a time when you were simply living up to someone else’s expectations of your parents or an older sibling, maybe.
When we overcommit ourselves, we tend to just flop down in defeat and think “Well, I tried my best” even when it would have been more efficient to let other people handle the work instead of spreading ourselves too thin. The problem is that once we feel overextended and underappreciated, we start looking for other opportunities where we can be needed again.
This makes us more likely to take on projects and responsibilities than we can realistically handle next time! If this has happened to you, try talking to others about what they expect from you; if the task seems daunting but not impossible, it might be better to ask for help than to take on even more than you did before.
When we start feeling overwhelmed and stressed by our day-to-day lives, we often stop thinking about the people we care about and instead focus only on ourselves. we become disconnected from others.
If you’re not careful, that lack of attention can turn into neglect. Maybe you should call your grandmother or someone else important in your life but find other things to occupy yourself with instead; maybe you walk right past a homeless person without offering them any change, maybe you tell someone close to you that they should “do whatever makes them happy” when what will make them happy is more money for college or a new job and you know that their current situation won’t be sustainable in the long term.
While we need to learn how to take care of ourselves and focus on our own needs, we also need strong relationships with others in order to feel fulfilled. Because giving up too much time alone can leave us feeling isolated and distant from people who care about us.
If you find yourself disconnecting from others, try spending some time doing something charitable together. Find five minutes every night where everyone stops what they’re doing and tells one person why they appreciate them! When we start making an effort to reach out instead of shutting down, it reminds us that life isn’t all about us.
We’ve all run into people who love to be right about everything; they’re the types of people who make every debate an argument and feel like they need to win at all costs.
These situations often lead to tensions between friends, families, and coworkers. Not only are those types of arguments unpleasant but they also waste time that could be better spent on something else entirely.
Most importantly, though, that type of behavior can leave you miserable. We don’t want to spend the rest of our lives feeling like we always had to be right instead of just admitting someone else was. If this sounds familiar, try asking others for their opinions more often even if it means you’ll be proven wrong some of the time.
If an argument does break out, stay calm and ask yourself if you really need to tell someone they’re “wrong” if it doesn’t matter that much to anyone else, let them have their own opinion! It may sound difficult at first but it can actually make a huge difference in your day-to-day life.
While we all enjoy praise from those around us sometimes, constantly craving approval from others makes every single thing we do seem trivial, because we feel like our self-worth is directly tied to others.
People who are constantly seeking approval from everyone they meet really aren’t living fully and instead are stuck in a cycle of angst and misery. If this sounds like you, try to take note of when you feel the need to seek approval from others maybe it’s when you get too much praise or maybe it’s when no one seems supportive at all, and then find a way to reframe that situation into something that makes you happy again.
Remember: personal happiness is not tied up in how much other people appreciate us! That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves but if we only do what makes us happy when other people validate it for us, we don’t really feel fulfilled.
There is a time and place for everything, and saying yes when it’s not appropriate can sometimes be the biggest downfall of your happiness. The truth is, when we say yes to things that we don’t want to do, we are usually only agreeing to things that others want us to do anyway, and so we are saying yes to the things we really don’t want to do.
Saying yes to something that will cause you stress or anxiety usually gives us the impression that we are a pushover, but if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s usually not the case. If you can’t say no to things that you don’t want to do or that are not fun for you, then try to at least find a way to get rid of that feeling in your body.
This doesn’t have to be a major life-changing move, but you can change your surroundings a little so you can enjoy yourself more. It’s also important to try and be honest with yourself about what you want. If you’re trying to be someone that you’re not, then you can only feel miserable.
You can’t always make the most of the things you’re doing right now, but if you work on making the best out of your situation, you can make things happen for yourself.