7 Habits that Are Making You Miserable

7 Bad Habits that Are Making You Miserable

Tired of dealing with the same type of misery over and over and over again?

If so, it’s time to purge some bad habits.  It’s time to learn from your mistakes rather than be conquered by them, and let your errors be of commission rather than omission.

It’s time to stop…

1.  Sticking exclusively with what you already know.

When you stop learning you stop living a meaningful life.

It’s okay to entertain new ideas without fully accepting them; it helps you grow.  Life’s richness does not come from always residing within familiar and comfortable territory.  It’s when you venture out, away from the familiar, that you grow stronger and more capable.

You must hold tightly to your core values while at the same time opening your heart and mind to new ideas, feelings, and experiences.  Your own perspective will grow stronger when you look at things from different perspectives.  Find ways to provide a healthy challenge to your current understanding of life, and you will discover and experience far more of life’s magic throughout your lifetime.

2.  Neglecting the balance of activity and rest.

Downtime is imperative.  In all walks of life, the highest human performance occurs when there is equilibrium between focused activity and rest and renewal.  This is due to the fact that the human body is designed to labor in short pulses, and requires renewal at regular intervals not just physically, but mentally as well.  In other words, most successful endeavors look something like this: activity, rest, activity, rest, etc.  And this is as true for long-term goals, as it is for short-term tasks.

It’s simply a matter of creating balance in your life – balance between activity and rest, balance between work and family, balance between getting things done and leaving them undone, etc.  Without balance, everything falls out of whack.  For instance, when you let your work life (or social life, family life, etc.) consume you, and 100% of your energy is focused in that area 100% of the time, every other area of your life falls apart.

Bottom line:  While drive and focus are important, if you’re going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life, including the basic foundation of activity and rest.  (Read The 4-Hour Workweek.)

3.  Following the path of least resistance.

It takes strength to do what must be done when the work is laborious.  It takes strength to persist in the face of adversity when it would be easier to simply give up.  It takes strength to be polite to someone who isn’t polite to you.  It takes strength to speak the truth when a lie would save you from trouble.  It takes strength to sacrifice short term pleasure for long term gain.  It takes strength to resist temptations and distractions.

It takes strength to do all these things.  And all the while, these are the very things that make you even stronger.

Live by the truth, do what you know is right, put forth the necessary effort, and keep pushing forward.  Exercise your strength every day, and you’ll always be stronger and more capable than you were the day before.

4.  Putting up with the same exact daily displeasures.

Don’t live with the disappointment; live beyond it.  You cannot stop what has already happened, but you can let it make you stronger and more determined.  The journey to spiritual maturity requires that you review the events in your life to find the wisdom and purpose they contain.

A time comes in your life when you finally get it.  When in the midst of all your fears and old hurts you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere, the voice inside your head cries out – “ENOUGH!”  This moment is the turning point that leads to success and happiness.

So today, close the door on your past, open the door to your future, take a deep breath, take a step forward, and start a new chapter in your life.  (Read The Untethered Soul.)

5.  Obsessing over the pain.

Pain is a part of life.  It’s what makes us human.  It shapes us the same as love and laughter.  You don’t have to forget what happened in the past, but you cannot let it destroy you.  Conquer the pain; don’t let it conquer you.

They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.  But sometimes it’s hard to move.  So during those times, cover yourself with kindness, meditate on your hope, and go easy on yourself – at least until you see the first glimmer of strength return.  Then rise to your feet with confidence, knowing that you’ll gain strength with each step forward you force yourself to make.

One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, you can get through your current troubles, one way or another.

6.  Ignoring your passions.

The same way your body responds to food, your heart, mind and spirit need nourishment too.  You are able to get that nourishment when you indulge in your passions.  Because when you truly lose yourself in something you love, you will eventually find yourself there too.

Thus, a truly fulfilling life is lived by letting your passions drive your dreams, and then losing yourself in the process of making them come true.

So never let the reality of what is, get in the way of what is possible.  Never give up on the things that move you.  A focused human being driven by passion is always more powerful than the reality of the moment.  (Read The $100 Startup.)

7.  Waiting for a miracle.

Inspiration exists, but it must be met by dedicated action.

Often the difference between a successful person and a person who struggles to make progress is not one’s superior abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take calculated risks, and to act.

In other words, unproductive people sit and wait for the magic beans to arrive; the rest of us just get up and get to work.

Photo by: J.T. Noriega


  1. Dana says

    Ooh, some fabulous wake-up calls here! 1 and 7 especially made me wince with self-recognition… I need to remind myself of those much more often.

    Thank you for another great post.

  2. JJ says

    I think different things make different people happy and successful in life, but this post does provide some practical advice on eliminating some common bad habits that drain lots of people of their potential.

  3. Esteban says

    Good points. I’m a slow learner, but I will try to put them into practice.

    My bad–habit–Putting up with the same exact daily displeasures. I need to make some changes.

  4. Tess says

    Thank you for all of your wonderful words of encouragement. Sometimes when you’ve gone through so much, even a memory can throw you back into the past for a few moments. Your reminders help shake things off quickly. Thank you.

  5. says

    I love this post. I’ve found that these exact same things have made me miserable in the past. I am slowly changing these habits and can see the results. Thank you for another bang-on fabulous post!

  6. says

    Great points, Marc! And this is really a wake-up call for me. I’ve been struggling lately with making a decision of whether to pursue my passions to live my dreams or live with the reality of my current choices. This post is really a big help in my decision. Thanks!

  7. says

    You ROCK, Marc and Angel. You have the wonderful gift of being able to lend instant perspective to life. Please keep up this important, insightful work!

  8. Grace says

    I love your messages and would like to print them out occasionally to put up at work. Can you please create a printer friendly version without all the ads and extra comments or links. Thanks and keep up the great work.

  9. says

    Good read, but for point #7 there is merit in being unproductive too, no? Sometimes being successful doesn’t have to mean achieving anything, it may just mean being who you are and taking the time to find that out.

  10. shannoz says

    Nice stuff love it! especially 7 touched me a lot, it’s a similar message as a local saying by Burji elders: “God helps those who help themselves.”

  11. says

    @Grace: In 2013 we will work on getting a more printer friendly option for our articles. But in the meantime, we will be releasing our ebook within the next month which will contain 400+ pages of our best articles, original short stories, and lots of little bonuses. It will be 100% portable for offline viewing (iPad, Kindle, Laptop, etc.), and 100% printable.

    @fleur: No doubt, in the short term, states of resting and being unproductive are necessary (as discussed in point #2). But these breaks must be followed by focused action toward some kind of goal, even if that goal is a period of self-discovery.

    @All: Thank you again for putting a smile on our faces. Your kind comments are truly appreciated. We love reading them.

  12. Nadia says

    This was very helpful and insightful. But I could use more help. I still don’t totally understand what I’m supposed to be doing differently? My life is the same old boring life everyday, without any excitement and sometimes I feel like I don’t get to laugh as much as other people.

    What am I supposed to be doing differently? Sometimes it’s not easy for people to just uproot their lives and make a change when they don’t have the resources to change. Any insights, anyone?

  13. Giulia says

    Thank you for sharing such a great article that helps me in so many ways. The last two years I have been dealing with some issues that almost broke me and reading your posts always helps me put things into perspective. Helping me to move forward and not remain bitter and angry. Thank you :)

  14. says

    I’m always impressed with both the power and the profound simplicity of your posts. So thank you! I love the concept of ‘exercise your strength’. I feel, when I look around, that so many have lost that wonderful feeling of accomplishment because they resist doing work – the tedious, hard, sometimes lonely, discipline-requiring effort. I also care so deeply about continual learning. I have received so much joy from it over the years, and it keeps me young at heart – so I love the thought of encouraging others to benefit and enjoy the same gift! I look forward to all your posts!

  15. says

    @Nadia: As Lao Tzu so profoundly stated: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” In other words, to get through even the most difficult times and circumstances you need to take baby steps, but you must keep on stepping. If you don’t like the way your world is at the moment, you can change it. Actually, you have an obligation to change it. But you can only do so one small step at a time.

    @All: Again, thanks for the kudos. And thanks for keeping the conversation going.

  16. says

    Lovely post. But oh, Marc, I love to believe in miracles. This is not to say that I don’t work for stuff, but when I’ve done my best and nothing is coming forth, I absolutely put all my faith in God for a miracle! In my own opinion, life would be too hard if there were no miracles.

  17. says

    This is the only self-help site/blog I follow and it never disappoints! Pure common sense most of the time, but I need reminding of SO MANY points you make.

    (I have a friend who would benefit from this exact list but he is so badly entrenched in all the points that he would never even look at this, let alone take the advice)


  1. Thank you so much. I really needed to read this tonight. I thought I had nothing left in me to continue, but have decided to get back on my feet and try to get everything in line again, one day at a time, with never ending faith in the powers above.

  2. Number 2. Neglecting the balance of activity and rest is the key one for me. Sometimes when you’re so focused on achieving a goal, it’s difficult to make yourself take a break, relax and restore some balance to your life.

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