I’m a firm believer that relationship satisfaction and happiness start with individual and personal happiness. Because when you’re genuinely happy, everything seems a little bit easier. Not because they are but because you’re in a better state to deal with stuff. So, how do we increase our levels of happiness? Here’s one way – get rid of habits that prevent happiness in your life.
Listen, I’m gonna get to it straight away …
While there are a lot of habits that will help to bring happiness into your life, and it’s important to know what they are, there are also plenty of habits that will prevent happiness.
I’ve been a long-time proponent of the idea that in order to get a better result in your life, it isn’t always necessary to add something.
Sometimes, it’s more effective to eliminate something that’s preventing you from having a certain result or quality of life.
The truth is that some of the things we do each day make it very unlikely that we’ll ever experience different or better results in life.
And it doesn’t matter how much more we add, it will never change what we are already doing.
In order to change the course of our life, we need to get rid of the things that are preventing us from obtaining that.
To use a health and nutrition example, I always say to people that you cannot outrun a bad diet.
Or differently put, you cannot cancel out bad food with good food.
At some point, the bad food’s gotta go.
The same goes for happiness.
It’s super important to do the things that we know contribute to higher levels of happiness, consistently.
But we also need to eliminate the habits that prevent happiness in our life or an area of life.
Chances are you’re probably doing at least of a couple of things that prevent happiness but never really considered the negative impact that they could be having on your life.
And that’s fine.
But I want you to start considering dealing with the six habits that prevent happiness in your life (below).
Now, maybe you can’t do all at once.
Again, that’s fine.
Just start with one.
Consider the others, but make a real effort with at least one that you know is perhaps a major pitfall in your life.
Or, if it’s not yet, it will be.
Here we go …
Avoid these habits that prevent happiness in your life (potentially):
One of the greatest stressors in life is financial issues.
Having money and paying for things is part of life.
That’s just how it is.
But there are two ways to think about finances and “having” more money.
One way is to believe that “more equals more.”
Meaning, in order to have more (for example, happiness) I need to have more (stuff).
But in order to have more stuff I need to have more money.
And that can very easily become a very unhealthy obsession leading to decreased levels of happiness in your life.
But this also another way to think about having “more” money.
When I live within my means rather than succumb to the pressures of social media and keeping up with the Joneses, I might find myself having “more” money because I have a life that costs little money to fund.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for entrepreneurship and hustling.
I’m all for providing value and being rewarded for it.
But, it’s always important to ask what the price is you’re paying in pursuit of “more.”
Sometimes by avoiding unnecessary spending, especially on shit we don’t really need but want, we can actually end up with more money in our pocket.
Plus, it is also a fact that happiness is harder to “find” when you’re up to your eyeballs in debt.
General financial pressure is also one of the greatest causes of misery and divorce.
And when we have “more,” clutter is usually not too far behind.
We also know that clutter can be another barrier to happiness.
So here’s something I want to challenge you with:
Think about the actual reward you’re gaining by spending too much on stuff you don’t need to impress people you don’t know (or like) and find a less destructive way to accomplish the same thing.
Because if you want to make happiness a real possibility in your life, keep your spending under control.
Postponing your life
This is a big one that has started dawning on me a lot more recently.
When I work with coaching clients I always reflect on my own life (and marriage) as well.
And one thing that I started thinking about is the fact that a lot of us are always waiting for something to happen (first) before we start living life the way we truly want.
Now, I appreciate that not everyone has the same amount of options and freedom as others.
But even that argument doesn’t always hold water, as the facts of our life sometimes betray us.
When we are honest with ourselves we will notice that much of the dissatisfaction in our life is the result of perpetual inaction on our part.
We simply put things off.
Even with the little time, resources, or energy, we might have – we sit around waiting.
Or we waste all of that on things that don’t move the needle in our lives in any way that is positive or good.
And it doesn’t matter whether we are talking about waiting for the first of the month to start eating healthier or waiting for the kids to leave the home before going on take notes again, or waiting until you are financially successful before spoiling your wife …
It seems that many of us always have an excuse to wait.
But here’s the thing – there will never be a perfect time to take that “necessary” step in the direction we want to go.
As I’m writing this post, these this quote on my wall that says:
Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take a moment and make it perfect.
Because here is the big reality for us all – TIME is the one thing none of us can ever get back.
So use it well.
Blaming others for your challenges
Blaming others for your challenges or wherever your life is at is a big waste of time.
It’s a serious habit that prevents happiness in your life.
Because as long as your focus is on things or people outside of your control, you’re disempowering yourself to take the necessary action in your life.
Listen, I get it, it’s not easy to accept responsibility for all of the unpleasant things in your life, but what other choice do you have?
No one else is going to fix it for you.
No one is coming to save you.
I know this sounds harsh and maybe you were hoping to hear something else, but it’s the truth.
If you want a different life, marriage, relationship, better health, or more money – it starts with you.
Even if you’ve been used and abused, you are still responsible for dealing with the aftermath and how you choose to respond to the shit that happened in your life.
So rather than blame others for your crappy situation or challenges, rather accept it and rather move forward in a way that will set your life on the path you want.
Not doing that will keep you stuck and prevent happiness in your life.
Not staying grounded in the present
This is another one of those things we don’t control.
And as the Stoic philosophers taught us, whenever we are focusing on and trying to control what is uncontrollable, we are setting ourselves up for major disappointment and unhappiness.
Many people have a bad habit of dwelling on past mistakes and tragedies or worrying about the future.
But doing that is a habit that prevents happiness in your life, both now and in the future.
Because the past is over, so leave it there.
And the future is merely a possibility, but not a reality yet.
The only thing we control (to some extent) other good choices we make today.
So, focus on making the most of today, and the future will take care of itself.
Pay attention to your thoughts, today.
Make good choices, today.
Also, notice how much time you actually spend thinking about the past or the future.
And think about how that impacts your effectiveness and your happiness, today.
Holding a grudge
This is just another version of holding onto the past.
But what good will come from holding a grudge?
Now, I agree, that if someone has wronged you, you might be wise by not trusting that person again.
However, holding on to the animosity is pointless.
Because you’re just making yourself unhappy and less effective.
Once it’s over, learn what you can from it, do what you must, and then forge ahead.
The late Nelson Mandela once said that,
Staying angry at someone is like drinking poison hoping your enemy would die.
Give that some thought.
Focusing on challenges instead of solutions
Focusing on challenges rather than solutions is a definite habit that prevents happiness in most people’s lives.
Because it’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you focus on the unpleasant things in your life.
And as the old saying goes, “energy flows where focus goes,“ focusing on unpleasant things will only highlight more to be unhappy about.
So, rather than do that, spend your time, energy, and focus on finding a way to make things better.
Even if it’s just one small thing that can make a difference.
By doing that you’ll feel better and be much more successful.
You also stop fuelling the negative and very issue you’re trying to resolve or overcome.
Take away …
Listen, it’s easier to be happy if you stop doing the things that prevent happiness in your life.
And the truth is, we all pick up some bad habits along the way.
So, this applies to us all.
The important thing, however, is to recognise the habits that prevent happiness in your life and eliminate them.
Remember, adding something good isn’t always good enough.
One good doesn’t always cancel out a bad.
Allow yourself to be happy by letting go of any “anti-happiness” habits you might have picked up along the way.
And you’ll find that happiness in your life isn’t as challenging to achieve as you thought.