It seems like “happiness” is a buzzword these days. A prime example of this is the very existence of the massive (and oftentimes, bloated) self-help industry which, to put it quite frankly, attempts to sell happiness to billions of people who desire to know the secrets to happiness, which may or may not even be true happiness for you.
Although the majority of writers are sincere in their approach to helping people, it is ultimately up to you to discover what brings you the truest form of happiness, which only you can create for yourself.
You cannot sit back and think your way through happiness. You need to take action and curate a lifestyle that makes true happiness self-evident and sustainable.
However, in order to live a fulfilling life that’s in alignment with your true self, you need to become more conscious of the following things that may be keeping you from true happiness:
1. Holding persistent grudges against yourself
You can be your own worst enemy when you keep clenching onto grudges you have against yourself. No matter how many setbacks you’ve experienced or how far behind you perceive yourself to be, holding onto grudges is guaranteed to send you down into a spiral of self-loathing and toxic judgment.
True happiness requires forgiveness and giving yourself a chance to start over.
2. Ruminating over past failures
You are bound to fail if you’ve ever attempted to try something that you’re a complete beginner at. You are also bound to fail if you force yourself to do something you absolutely have no interest in. Ruminating over all the ways you fail can prevent you from seeing that failure is a harsh but valuable learning experience. Being aware of what you have gained from your failures can help you decide whether you need to try harder or re-evaluate your direction in life.
3. Thinking you have to jump through an endless series of hoops to be qualified
If you have a passion or at least a hope for a different kind of future, you’re probably familiar with imposter syndrome and a blatant symptom of this is when you think you have to cram in five years’ worth of successful person’s work into six months, or something insane like that, in order to be qualified to pursue what you truly desire. This can create self-destructive cycles of procrastination and performance paralysis, which often sabotages your efforts in securing true happiness for yourself.
4. Being dishonest with yourself
When you’re dishonest with yourself, you pretend to be interested in things you don’t like and support things that don’t align with your values. When you try to play the role of someone else other than yourself, you get trapped in a vicious cycle of powerlessness and loss of individuality. You need to remember that you are a unique individual with many gifts that you don’t realize you have and the only way to be truly happy with yourself and your life is to be genuine and honest about who you are, what you love, and what you stand for.
5. Planning too much for the future
When you plan too much for the future, you’re expending so much mental energy on unknowns and dwelling upon things you ultimately have no control over. The only thing that’s within your power is the action you take right now, and it’s not something you should overthink or postpone for later because the present is really all you have and the more you get attached to future goals, the more anxious you’ll be when the outcomes don’t turn out exactly as you envisioned them.
6. Relying on external influences to validate your life choices
You might be overthinking all the ways your parents, peers, and strangers on the Internet could potentially judge you for all the things you’re “doing wrong” with your life. You might be too afraid to pursue what it is that you really want because you still care about what others think and you haven’t quite mastered staying in your own lane. However, it’s critical to recognize that the only way to secure everlasting joy for yourself is to make your own choices in life and be bold in spite of all the discouragement that might be surrounding you.
7. Trying to compete with other people for attention and success
This is a classic trap that has been afflicting humanity for thousands of years and is only exacerbated right now because of how widely used social media is – you’re no longer competing with people on TV, you’re competing with ordinary people who can portray their lives as a certain way and this puts pressure on you to keep up with them. You might have many things you expect for yourself based on how much others have achieved. Realize that true happiness is about embracing who you are, what you’re doing, and how much potential you have because the truth is, your life is only yours and the more you’re focused on bettering yourself without allowing other people’s lives to influence your choices, the more secure you’ll be.
8. Making excuses as to why you can’t do something difficult that you really need to do
Maybe you’re stuck in a job that doesn’t compensate you fairly. Maybe you’re stuck in an abusive relationship. Maybe you have poor health but you can’t afford to pay the medical bills. Maybe you are burdened with debt and you have no way to cut down your expenses. Although money and success aren’t the sources of true happiness, remaining stuck in difficult circumstances can render you helpless and kick every ounce of dignity and self-confidence to the curb. A common warning sign of this is when you recognize that there are little steps you can take to get out, but you still allow your excuses to keep you trapped and unable to move forward in life. When you want to pursue happiness for your personal wellbeing and to take good care of your mind, body, and soul, you need to be willing to do the difficult work first and not allow paralyzing fear to keep you stagnant.
9. Filling your life with temporary pleasures
It’s okay to treat yourself from time to time. However, if you’re constantly spending money and wasting time on things that keep you extremely distracted from your long-term goals and endeavors that actually bring fulfillment, it’s going to have a negative impact on your overall quality of life. Overconsumption without creation may seem like an easy way out and a form of escapism from a difficult life, but if you want to ensure that you’re living your best life, you need to put in the effort in things that will bring everlasting fulfillment and deep satisfaction.
10. Toxic Positivity
Contrary to popular belief, true happiness isn’t about sustaining a rush of only positive emotions. Rather, being truly happy is all about embracing the entire emotional spectrum and allowing yourself to feel deeply, no matter how society perceives certain emotions. It’s okay to acknowledge that life can be harsh and unforgiving. It’s okay to react accordingly instead of bottling up everything you feel. The more you’re honest about how you feel, the more you can truly embrace the better things in life, knowing that you have the power to endure the worst and still feel alive.
11. Always being in a rush without knowing why
Hustle is sometimes necessary, especially when you’ve gone through a mental block for prolonged periods of time – it’s the only way to propel you forward. However, it’s always best to maintain a sense of balance in every aspect of your life. You need some time to linger in the beauty of the present moment without feeling guilty for not always working. You also need to re-evaluate your trajectory when you feel like you’re rushing towards something that might not even be a good fit for you. It’s important to check in with yourself and take a break when you feel like you’re going to collapse because as always, your wellbeing comes first.
12. Hating yourself for not being where you think you should be
Your expectations for where you should be are based on a combination of factors – where your parents think you should be, where your peers are at right now, and where your younger self thinks you’ll end up by now. You might feel like you’re behind everyone else and that all of your hopes and dreams have been crushed and tossed into an abyss of oblivion. Not so.
Take a step back and see your life for what it is. It’s crucial to understand that even though you aren’t where you think you should be, you still have time to change, to start over, and to experience a rebirth – you can always change the path you’re on. You can always decide to embrace what you have right now instead of focusing too much on what you lack. As always, you have more control over yourself than you think and because you already have the gift of today, it’s time to embark on this lifelong pursuit of true happiness.
Featured Image Credit: TONL