What do you want? More money? A different job? A better relationship?
Wrong. You want to be happy.
Those are things that you think will make you happy. And they likely will to an extent. These things can relieve stress and certainly increase your quality of life, but people can achieve these things and still be unhappy.
They say that money can’t buy happiness. While it can certainly make life easier, if you haven’t learned how to be happy internally, all the money in the world can’t buy that for you. So despite your external circumstances, these are the internal things that you are doing that are keeping you from being happy.
1. You’re Holding On To Anger
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” — Buddha
When someone wrongs you, how long do you hold onto the anger from it? Like most of us, probably for longer than you need to.
Let’s say you’re driving and someone cuts you off. You hit the brakes and get stuck at a red light. This light takes forever to change, and you are late for work. Your boss gets onto you about the importance of being on time, like you don’t already know that. It was that jerk that cut you off. You’re boiling mad. Yeah, you flipped him off and honked, but you really need him to know what a piece of shit he is. You wanted to have a good day, but now you’re just pissed off and it’s his fault.
Why are we dwelling on this anger? Are you just trying to justify to yourself that you’re the victim and this wasn’t your fault? Maybe. Are you replaying the situation wishing it was different and then getting more fired up by reliving it over and over? Also maybe. And while it feels strangely good to be this angry for a while, it is not serving you in any way.
Get over it.
It’s that simple. Use whatever tool you need to, but get over it. If you need logic and need to know it’s inefficient to dwell on it, as it’s preventing you from being productive and makes no sense, then think that. If you need to think about how he may have been rushing to the hospital to see his dying grandma and he realized he cut you off and has felt bad all day about it, then look at it that way.
Think whatever you need to, but your anger isn’t helping you and it’s gotta go.
2. You’re Focused On The Negatives
“In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.” — Albert Einstein
Whenever something happens, what do you focus on?
You lost your job. It sucks big time. You’ve got virtually nothing in savings and no back up plan — you weren’t prepared for this at all. Those bills are going to be coming in and you aren’t ready for them. This is straight-up not awesome.
Do you focus on all these bad things? Or do you look for any positives?
Let’s look at it differently.
I mean, you’ve been secretly wishing you would wreck your car on the way to work to find a way to be off for a day. There had been some red flags and things really adding up that were making you hate your job more and more. That soul-sucking feeling every morning before work was getting old. You wanted something different but didn’t want to step out of your comfort zone.
Well, maybe this was actually a great opportunity for you. Now you have a chance to find something better in a field you’re more interested in (at this point, what do you have to lose?). You need to cut bills, so now might be a good chance to cut out excess or anything that really wasn’t serving you (which will set you up for a better financial position down the road). Maybe this lifestyle isn’t exactly what you wanted and now you have a great opportunity to change everything that you don’t like. Now you can move to a new city, find something new, and start living the life you want.
All because you lost that lousy job.
3. You’re Not Paying Attention To The Little Things
“We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things.” — Anonymous
When was the last time something really small made you happy? Have you noticed how kids smile at rainbows or butterflies or a show they like? They get excited, they’re in the moment, and that thing that seems so small to us makes them really genuinely happy. To them it’s a big thing. It’s something that makes them happy and that’s a huge part of their lives. Did you lose this view of the world?
Start practicing this again.
Next time you see a happy dog, a show you like comes on, or you eat something you really love, just smile. Don’t just go through the motions, but really appreciate the fact that it makes you happy.
4. You Worry About Things Outside Of Your Control
“Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace.” — Randy Armstrong
Are you a constant worrier? Stressing about what if’s that may never happen? You probably know that this isn’t healthy for your mental health but do it anyway. To an extent, we all worry about things whether or not we can control them, but most of the time this practice won’t benefit you.
When I say worry, I don’t mean thinking about something that you know will happen and are evaluating the potential situations to prepare. I mean thinking about how situations in the past could have gone different, statistically improbable things that may happen, and other things that you at this moment cannot influence in any way.
5. You Compare Yourself To Others
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt
Do you ever feel cynical towards people who are happy? Of course they can be happy, they haven’t had to deal with all the crap you’ve been through. If they had the same life experiences, they wouldn’t be happy either.
You have no idea what that person’s life is like. You didn’t see the work they put into their successes or the other selfies they took that didn’t look amazing. You’re only seeing their best. If you’re comparing your worst to their best that they show you, then you will never win. You’re comparing apples to oranges and won’t get a meaningful comparison. Regardless, why would you want to?
6. You Don’t Practice Gratitude
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” — Anonymous
If you aren’t practicing gratitude every day, then this might be an easy way to start becoming happier immediately. According to research by The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, gratitude writing can significantly improve mental health. By shifting your focus from things that you don’t have to the things around you that you are grateful for, you will start to see that what you have is enough.
Start by writing down three things every day that you are grateful for, no matter how small. Over time, you will find yourself doing this activity naturally, as your perspective has changed for the better.
7. You Aren’t Choosing Happiness
“Was it a bad day? Or was it a bad five minutes that you milked all day?” — Anonymous
Of course bad things happen to us all from time to time, but how you choose to handle it and move on can be a factor in your overall happiness. If you tend to let one bad event ruin the rest of your day, then you might be subconsciously choosing to be unhappy.
It’s okay to give yourself some time to deal with a situation and allow yourself to experience negative feelings, but don’t carry it with you and let it shadow your outlook for everything else. Happiness can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you’re happy and choose to act like it, you can, in a sense, fake it till you make it.
8. You Don’t Know That You’re Unhappy
“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.” — Buddha
When was the last time you really thought about whether or not you were happy? Do you just exist and go through the motions of your life without really focusing on your happiness? If you aren’t thinking about your happiness and focusing on maintaining it, then your life will reflect that.
I’m not talking about depression necessarily, but if you are just existing and feel meh all the time, maybe you haven’t paid enough attention to realize that you’re unhappy.
Take this opportunity to start checking in from time to time on your emotional state. See how you feel, if there is anything nagging you that you can address, and any feelings that you can try to identify and acknowledge. This can do wonders for your mental and emotional health as you start to become more in tune with how you feel, but now you’ll also be aware of when you feel happy.