Believe it or not, you are sabotaging your own happiness every day. But you can change that. Here are 8 things destroying your happiness that you can eliminate from your life with a little effort.
1. Mind reading
Thoughts like, “She must think I’m so stupid,” or, “They must be so bored right now,” enter most people’s heads throughout the day. These thoughts don’t necessarily represent truth but are made-up assumptions about what other people are thinking in their minds.
Unless you are a vampire who sparkles in the sun, you can’t actually know what other people are thinking. Don’t assume you know what’s going on in other people’s heads. But, if you are going to assume, assume people are thinking the best of you. Communicate openly. And, believe it or not, you aren’t as big of a deal as you think you are; they are probably thinking about their own insecurities and not about you.
Making situations or other people the cause of your problems is a quick trip to unhappiness. You will never be able to control awful things that happen to you or the actions of others.
However, you have control over yourself and your responses. Renowned air force pilot and religious leader Dieter Uchtdorf once said, “The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness. We determine our happiness.” Happiness is a decision, and you can make it.
3. Being someone you’re not
I used to apologize for a lot of things. “Sorry my house is a mess.” “Sorry I said that.” One day I realized that if I was actually sorry about most of the things I was apologizing for every day, I wouldn’t have done them. I would have cleaned my apartment, or I would have not said that thing.
The stress of trying to appear like I was someone else was not great for my happiness. Instead, I’ve tried to liberate myself. “Be yourself” could be the hardest advice of all. Because who is “yourself” anyways? But the more you discover yourself and let that person feel unencumbered, the happier you will be.
4. Comparing yourself
In the age of social media it’s easy to have too many things to compare ourselves to. Our clothes aren’t as cute as all the girls on Pinterest, we aren’t as well travelled as the people we follow on Instagram and our relationships don’t scream, “CUTE!” the way 80% of our Facebook friends’ do.
But there’s no way you’ll be able to “keep up with the Kardashians.” The fact of the matter is achieving those things isn’t going to make you happier. However, yearning for them will definitely make you unhappier. Gratitude is the antidote for comparison. List daily all the amazing things about your own life, and you will be one happy person.
I have had a bad habit of going through all the possible outcomes of a situation. Sometimes the outcomes have been a far shot away from being positive. For a while, I hadn’t realized this was bad to do. I was simply preparing myself for possible realities. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I realized this was negative thinking.
When you envision terrible futures, you create unnecessary stress and anxiety in your life. When you catch yourself “foreseeing” no one will talk to you at the party or you will mix up all the words in your speech, remind yourself you are the author of your future and the worst-case scenario rarely happens.
6. Creating false expectations
In John Green’s “Paper Towns,” a character says, “You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves.” The character then goes on to explain how you can’t get mad when people don’t do things the way you think they should do them.
If your friend is the kind of person who doesn’t show up on time, you can’t get frustrated at him for doing that. If she isn’t the kind of person who is considerate and asks about your life, you can’t get mad about that either. Expect people to be themselves, and you will be relieved of frustration when they don’t act according to your unrealistic expectations.
7. Hating on failure
I’m not trying to say messing up doesn’t sting or rejection doesn’t feel like a punch in the stomach, but I am saying you should change your perspective on failure. And I have two quotes I think will offer that new perspective.
First, a reporter asked Thomas Edison about inventing the incandescent lightbulb. He responded, “I have not failed, not once. I’ve discovered ten thousand ways that don’t work.” Failure was just part of the pathway to success.
The second is an anonymous quote, “My darling, you are allowed to fail without being a failure.” Just because you don’t succeed at something, doesn’t mean it defines you.
Change you’re perspective on failure and you will be a happier person.
8. Living in another time
You can either get stuck in the past or the future. Hanging on to the past won’t bring it back, and waiting to be happy at some future date is just postponing the happiness you could have now.
If you wait to be happy until you finish school, get married or get a new job, your happiness will always be out of reach. Choose instead to be happy now. Life isn’t about finishing things but enjoying the moments. Don’t mourn the cookie that was eaten, and don’t wait until you’ve finished eating it to appreciate it; enjoy each bite in the moment.