Happiness, that elusive sense of being that we feel every now and then, but struggle to keep around permanently. It's a state of mind that we spend so much time, energy and effort into complaining about not having, and something that we are forever trying to achieve.
I used to always wonder how everyone else seemed to find happiness but me. I thought perhaps I was flawed or that happiness was something only reserved for some. What I have since realised, is that happiness isn't something we get handed to us, it's something we have to actively pursue every single day.
The way I see it is that happiness boils down to just one thing - choices.
We choose to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. We choose to make decisions that will lead us towards our desired outcome rather than ones that will send us off-course. We choose to fight with everything we've got to make it through the tough times. We choose to surround ourselves with people and things that benefit us in a positive way. We choose to immerse ourselves in experiences that bring us joy. We choose to put ourselves first.
When it comes to happiness, you don't only have to ensure you're choosing to do the right things. Equally as important, is ensuring you're not doing things that will sabotage your chances at finding happiness.
To give yourself the best chance possible at being happy, avoid these things:
Imagine you have a friend who follows you around everywhere, constantly criticising, judging and belittling you. You'd quickly find yourself feeling frustrated, degraded and lacking any belief in yourself. Well that's exactly what negative self-talk does to you. It's that voice inside your head that's constantly telling you that you're no good, you aren't worthy and you don't deserve the best things in life.
That negative chatter inside of your head drags you down and prevents you from being the best version of yourself so do your best to erase this type of inner dialogue.
The key to happiness lies at the end of your comfort zone. Stepping outside of your normal exposes you to incredible experiences, endless fun and life-changing opportunities, so if you want to live a happier, more content and more fulfilling life, it's time to push yourself beyond your limits.
You are what you speak. If you fill your days with complaints, pessimism and negativity, you can only expect negativity to come your way. Just like negative self-talk, negative words impact your mindset and the way other people people interact with you. If you want to improve your day, it can be as simple as choosing your words more wisely.
If you set yourself unattainable goals, you're going to be constantly disappointed and your belief in yourself will plummet. You'll be left doubting your talent and abilities, and you'll start to stop trying altogether.
However, if you set yourself achievable goals, you're far more likely to succeed and every little success along the way will boost your confidence, your self-esteem and your enthusiasm to keep going. So while dreaming big is awesome, it's important to break down those dreams into smaller, bite-sized pieces that you can chip away at one at a time, all the while keeping you steered towards achieving your dreams.
Wouldn't it be lovely if everything went according to plan and things worked out exactly as they were supposed to every single time? Well it's time for a reality check. Things don't always go according to plan, we as people are flawed and life has a way of throwing curveballs at us anytime it likes.
If you're always expecting perfection, you're almost always going to be left bitterly disappointed so don't waste your energy. Invest your energy in doing your absolute best with what you've got, be thankful for the positives and put the idea of perfection to rest if you want to find contentment in life.
Our past experiences shape who we are. We are who we are because of where we've come from and what we've been through.
Our history consists of so many valuable life lessons, treasured experiences and wonderful memories that add value to our life here and now, but it can also be a source of much misery. If we spend our time mulling over our past, reliving difficult memories, filling ourselves with regret or wishing our life was different, we are blinding ourselves to the beauty, love and incredible opportunities standing right there in front of us.
In order to be truly happy in life, we must be at peace with our past. Let go of past hurt, anger or regret, and move forward into the world wiser, stronger and kinder as a result of what you've been through.
The Need To Impress Others
If you want to avoid unhappiness you need to stop caring so much about what people think of you. Be the best version of yourself that you can be, make an effort to improve a little more every day and stop worrying about how others judge you. The key to happiness is being content with who you are today.
Resistance To Change
Life, relationships, career, family - these are all constantly changing. Nothing stays the same and that's the true beauty of life. We can choose to sit back and complain that our world is changing around us while we are being left behind, or we can choose to change with it.
If you stop resisting change and allow yourself to grow with everyone and everything around you, your world starts opening up to new experiences, new opportunities and new chances at happiness. Change can be a beautiful thing that you never knew you needed.
Negative people are a drain on us mentally, emotionally and physically. They zap us of our energy and our patience, and left us seeing the world through their negative eyes.
Don't be the person that surrounds themselves with negative people while trying to maintain some sense of happiness because it just won't work.
Instead, fill your time with people who have a positive impact on your life. Look for people whose presence fills you with joy and makes you truly feel alive.
Fear Of The Unknown
What we've been taught is that whatever we don't know and understand, must be scary. As children we learned to be afraid the darkness under our bed because there could be a monster lurking under there, and as adults we have learned to become suspicious, apprehensive and fearful of things that we do not understand whether it be a new experience, culture, place or person.
We have trained ourselves to remain in the safety of what is known to us and have mapped out our lives so that we minimise the chances of us treading into the unknown. But the reality is that not all unknowns are bad.
Allowing ourselves to be open to new experiences, opportunities, people and things, opens our minds and hearts up to so much more of life. Once we push past the fear of all that is unknown we give ourselves the chance to grow as people and move forward in life in new and exciting ways.
If you want to live a life filled with contentment and joy, open yourself up, take chances and don't be afraid to veer away from the plan every now and then because all life's plans aren't meant to be set in stone.
High Expectations of Ourselves and Others
High expectations lead to disappointment, that's a fact. We are unable to control every outcome in every situation so carrying around a backpack full of expectations as you trek through this crazy thing called life is only going to weigh you down.
By constantly putting high expectations on yourself in every aspect of your life, you're setting yourself up for a life full of internal agony.
If you put your expectations onto the people around you, you'll only push them away and wind up severely disappointed and alone.
Being Defined By Others
We are not put on this earth to fit some pre-designed mould. Each one of us is unique and rare. We all possess incredible strengths, talents and passions, and we have the ability to leave our own unique mark on this world.
When you grow up in an environment where you're expected to be this or that, finding your individuality can be tough. But if you let yourself be defined by yourself and yourself alone, you'll open your life up to endless possibilities.
Find your reason for being here, showcase your talents, flaunt your strengths, live your best life by being exactly who you are, not who you're expected to be, and go on and shine.
Not Prioritising Your Own Wellbeing
If you really want to find true happiness in life you have to start investing in your own wellbeing. Wellbeing is a garden that needs to be tended to if you want happiness to bloom. Each one of us will have a different way of tending to our garden but the important thing is setting time aside, away from all the regular stresses of everyday life, to invest in ourselves.
Putting time aside regularly to reconnect with ourselves is probably the most important step in finding peace, contentment and happiness from within.
Be aware of how you're feeling, seek to understand how people, events and experiences are impacting you, and spend a little time listening to your thoughts, feelings and emotions. It's the best investment you'll ever make.