Worrying is one of the worst things you do if you want to live a happier life. Worrying takes us out of the present moment and into either an imaginary future, or stuck in an unchangeable past – neither of which foster good feelings. And worrying about the ‘worst case scenario’ only wastes precious time you could have spent being ‘happy’ now. If you’re worrying about your present situation; bills, kids, parents, job, economy, health, etc. – worrying won’t solve the problems; it will only exasperate and frustrate the situation further. To foster a more positive, happier frame of mind requires that you replace worry with Wonder! Wonder ‘what if’ I do this? Wonder ‘what if’ I did that? Wonder ‘what if’ I don’t worry and just take the appropriate action. Go ahead – Make an action plan, follow through and then Let it Go! What’s left is peace of mind and a happier, calmer you!
2. Holding Grudges/Resentment/Anger/Blaming Others
Holding grudges is like holding onto a leech. It will suck you dry – drain your life blood – and your happiness, until you decide to release it. In the beginning, you feel righteous and deserving of your anger. You believe being right is more important than anything else. You blame others for your misfortune and believe they are responsible for your misery. Being angry and resentful only leads one to sadness – not happiness. Blaming others puts us in the victim seat. Have you ever seen a ‘Happy Victim’? No! (unless they’ve just won a lawsuit) Victims are miserable. The road to happiness is Forgiveness. Forgive those that trespassed against you. Forgive those that pissed you off. Forgive those that did you wrong. Forgive the situations that didn’t work out the way you planned. Forgive the Economy. Forgive Mother Nature. Forgive your Mother, your Father, your Sister, your Brother. Forgive Yourself. You deserve it and you deserve to be happy!
3. Feeling Sorry for Yourself
Feeling sorry for yourself is a close cousin to blaming others. Instead of – or in addition to blaming others – you’re blaming yourself! It’s like having a ‘pity party’ for one! And, even if you get others to attend your party, nobody is celebrating. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being unsatisfied with your situation – whether it’s your doing or not. And it’s usually beneficial to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. But, being stuck in ‘poor, poor me’ will not get you out of it. Once again you’re playing the victim and victims are miserable. So, how do you stop feeling sorry for yourself? Focus on the good in your life – right now! Focus on what is working; what’s good, what you appreciate. Because what we focus on expands exponentially in our minds. And the more we focus on good, the happier we feel. Then, decide what you have the power to change in your life – and take action to change it – Now! Take responsibility for your own life. Don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t live in the past and don’t worry about the future (See #1). Choose to be Happy – Now!
4. Exaggerating Negative Events or Thoughts
Blowing things way out of proportion may be good for a dramatic film – but it wreaks havoc on our happiness. We all want a little ‘tea and sympathy’ at times, but exaggerating negative events only serves to further dampen our moods, and our immune system. Our bodies weren’t designed to be on ‘Red Alert’ all the time. Ask yourself these questions the next time you find yourself making a problem bigger than it is – “Is this really that bad?”; “Does it deserve this much of my attention?”; “Is it really that important in the long run?”; “Is there a solution?”; “What would happen if I just let it go?”; or my favorite – “What can I learn from this?” Sometimes it’s as simple as reframing a situation and expanding our vocabulary! Instead of negative events being viewed as ‘terrible’, why not reframe that to viewing them as ‘annoyances’. When you think of something as annoying, it’s a lot easier to dismiss. If you want to be happier, look for the silver lining in the situation or make lemonade. Grab a straw and drink up! Your happiness depends on it!
5. All or Nothing Thinking
All or nothing thinking is the same as thinking everything is ‘Black or White’. Life is not black and white – it’s many shades of gray (and every other color in the rainbow). All or nothing thinking robs us of our happiness because, if we think we have to have everything exactly as we want or expect to be happy, we may have to wait a very long time! Just ask the parent of a toddler! Those tantrums are all about not getting exactly what you want – when you want it! As adults we should have learned that life rarely happens exactly as we want. We usually get some of what we want or most of what we want, and occasionally we do get all of what we want, – like a coveted piece of merchandise that’s on sale and in stock! But if we truly want to be happy all the time, we need to detach ourselves from a specific outcome. Happiness is an inside job.
6. Being a Martyr
Do you know the definition of the word ‘Martyr’? Sufferer, Willing Victim, Sacrificial Victim …. You get the point! How many happy martyrs do you know? Most are miserable and righteous in their suffering. All they do is complain that nobody appreciates them or what they’re doing, and yet they’re unable to either stop complaining or stop sacrificing themselves for the needs of others. Ask yourself why you’re willing to sacrifice your health, time, and own needs for everyone else? Is it for appreciation, admiration or validation? If you’re going to do something for others, do it with love and generosity – willingly, because you want to or feel called to. Think of Mother Teresa. She never viewed what she did as a personal sacrifice. Now, you don’t have to become the next Mother Teresa, but if you continue to resent doing things for others, happiness will continue to elude you. It’s your choice. You can be a martyr or you can be happy. You decide.
7. Holding Yourself Back or Not Taking Chances
Are you doing what you want to do with your life or are you playing it safe? If you’re holding yourself back, ask yourself if you’re satisfied with where you are. If the answer is no, then why are you playing it safe? Is it making you happy to play small? Are you happy being less than you can be? When we do this to ourselves, not only are we dissatisfied with where we are in our lives, but we’re envious of other people that are successful – those that seem to have it all. We start moving into #3 (Feeling Sorry for Ourselves) and then it’s a slippery slope from there. So, pick yourself up, Dust yourself off and ‘Go for It’! Don’t make excuses about not having enough resources; time, money, skills. Take baby steps if you need to – 3 Foot Tosses – just move forward toward your goal. You have this big Vision – this Dream in your heart and its there for a reason. You are the one that was meant to bring it forward; to make it a reality. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. There is no such thing in life – only lessons to be learned. So learn this lesson of Happiness – Carpe Diem!
8. Not Helping Others / Being of Service
Have you ever noticed how happy volunteers are? They’re doing something they choose to do to help someone or some cause. They’re giving of themselves; their time, talents, skills or resources. Helping others and being of service moves us out of our own little worlds (and problems) into something bigger – something grander. (I’m not talking about becoming a Martyr – see #6). When we give with no expectation – with no agenda – with no reciprocity – we are truly living from a heart-centered place. And, living and giving from our hearts is pure happiness. Not only does the receiver benefit, but so do we on a Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual plane. Giving makes us feel good and feeling good makes us Happy. It’s a no-brainer, so go find an organization, cause, or person that you want to support and do it today! It’ll put a huge smile on your face!
9. Forgetting Gratitude
Can being grateful really makes us Happy? You Betcha! Gratitude is a very powerful tool that many of us forget we have in our ‘Happiness Toolbox’. We’re so focused on the things in our life that are not working, not the way we want, not this or not that – that we forget to be grateful for all those things that are! Even on those days when you feel you have nothing to be grateful for – think again. Sometimes it’s as easy as just being grateful for those things we take for granted. Be grateful for your breath. Be grateful for all your working body parts. Be grateful for Mother Earth. Be grateful for another day on this planet to be grateful! The more you focus on the things that you’re grateful for … the more things you find to be grateful for. I bet you can find at least 100 things – right now to be grateful for! So – grab a journal and start jotting them down. Then, the next time you’re feeling blue, pick it up and remind yourself how much you really do have to be grateful for! “… to live in gratitude is to touch heaven.” – (Johannes A. Gaertner) and Heaven is just another word for Happiness!
10. Waiting …. For Someone, Something, Anything to be Happy