Everyone experiences unhappy times on occasion, but there is a big difference between experiencing a temporary bout of sadness and living a habitually unhappy life. That’s what chronically unhappy people do.
Even if you are generally a happy person, take a look at these seven habits to determine if any of them are keeping you from experiencing greater amounts of joy.
1. Playing it too safe.
Don’t play it so safe that you put yourself in situations where none of your potential options satisfy your calling. Dream your dream, but also realize that you are more than just the dreamer, you are the point of origin for your dream’s reality.
Your dream is your creative vision for your future life. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar. Start smashing through those emotional barriers. Move forward. Life doesn’t magically give you what you want in your mind; it gives you what you insist upon with your actions. Read The Power of Habit.
2. Continuous self doubt.
You will inevitably become who you believe yourself to be.
If you spend enough time saying, “I’m not smart enough, thin enough and rich enough,” it’s likely that you will someday be right. On the contrary, if you have the belief that you are smart enough, thin enough and rich enough now to take the next positive step forward, over time you will likely acquire the capacity to be these very things at your desired level of expectation.
3. Obsession with control.
Sometimes people put too much interest into trying to control every tiny aspect of their lives. Learn to let go, relax and ride the path that life takes you. Try something new, take a chance, but above all, smile and enjoy the scenery.
Freeing yourself from trying to control the insignificant things lets you experience more of the good stuff around you. The greatest joys in life are often the unexpected surprises that arrive when you are flexible and open to life’s twists and turns. Read Buddha’s Brain.
4. Setting unrealistic expectations.
You won’t drop two jean sizes overnight. Your relationships won’t grow without your attention. You can’t pay off $25K in debt in a week. Your new business venture won’t instantly turn a profit.
You’re going to make mistakes every now and then. You will go a day or two when you feel like you’re running in place. You’re going to try new techniques and they’re not always going to work. You’re a human being. You’re going to fail from time to time. But that’s how you grow. Worthwhile goals take work and persistence.
5. A bad attitude.
The greatest discovery you will ever make is that you can change your life by simply changing your attitude. Optimism is the most essential human trait, because it allows you to evolve your ideas and improve every situation you encounter.
So don’t take things for granted. Be positive and realize how fortunate you are. Not every day will be perfect, but if you pay attention you’ll realize that 99.9% of the time you’re having either a good day or a great day.
6. Slacking on exercise.
You DO have enough time to exercise. If you say otherwise, you’re lying to yourself. The truth is you don’t have time not to, or sooner or later you’ll be making time for illness.
At least 30 minutes of exercise every day has been proven on countless occasions by countless medical studies to increase the strength, happiness and longevity of human lives. You’re talking about three and a half hours a week. That’s hardly seems an excessive amount of time considering the tremendous benefits in terms of the impact on the remaining 164.5 hours of the week. Read The 4-Hour Body.
7. Overindulgence of a good thing.
As Oscar Wilde once said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
Eating too much makes you fat. Spending too much money makes you broke. Working too much leaves your family at home missing you. Playing too much leaves important work undone… And so on and so forth.
Happiness depends on the balancing act of applying your positive resources equally to the hungry deficits in your life. All details aside, the important thing to remember is this: Long-term happiness is never found in one good thing; it is a combination, it is a balanced lifestyle.
Photo by: Chelsea Chen
Honestly, your blog always has exactly the right post at the right time to get me out of a hole of misery and back on track. It’s amazing how something as simple as a list can be the tipping point that turns around a day, week, month, or even a whole life. Thank you.
Jess Evans says
This was quite an amazing piece. I want to change a lot of things in my life, and am still striving to find some sort of stable “happiness”. In my search, readings, and introspection, it’s easy to become almost desensitized to all of the positive affirmations and advice. It starts not to feel real, or that it could never really actually be applicable in my own life, or “ya, ya, I’ve heard it all before.”
This, on the other hand, is not instructional. It’s a concise, common sense calling out. And it really strikes me as usually advice.
Thank you! This post is definitely something I will print out and refer as I journey onward.
Gaurav Rajput says
Hi Angel and Marc,
Its incredible how you guys keep pushing me up to better places and inspiring me even being miles away… 🙂
Reading your blog posts has made me realize some great aspects of life that i would otherwise have not experienced. Thanks a ton for making that little difference in my life, I try to include your ideas into my life almost every day. Also, I would like to have your email ids to keep in touch. Please, awaiting…
Good reminders. Being happy is never constant, but it’s certainly something we can create more of in our lives if we choose to. I myself strive for inner peace, which inevitably leads me to happiness.
Sandy Peckinpah says
Number 4 was particularly meaningful to me. There’s such a fine line between dreaming big and having unrealistic expectations. Those expectations can cause your dreams to deflate quickly and dissappointment sets in. Thank you for another great blog.
These are all truths. At their core, they point to the simple fact that we make ourselves. We can make ourselves unhappy, or we can make ourselves happy. The choice is ours.
Greg Schenk says
Each day I can’t wait to be inspired by your column.
Hey guys. I like every single article I get from you. I was even wondering if I could start translating it in my own language? I come from Slovenia and i think that a lot of people would be very happy if they could read it in our language. Please contact me if you would agree with this.
Margie Shynk says
I’ve got everybody I work with signed up for these emails and they do keep me on track.
Most importantly, I’m printing this one off for my son. He’s 21 and finally realizes he needs to make a change and move from the small town he grew up in. However, he’s afraid…… this will be just a confirmation that life isn’t always easy and it is scary. However, he will survive and he has to be the master of creating is happiness and future.
As always, this is perfect timing.
Thank you for everything you do!!
I agree that you can change your life by changing your bad attitude. I understand circumstances such as being out of work for 3 1/2 years can make people depressed and defensive, especially those who feel they’re being discriminated because of their age. But perhaps a shift in attitude is just what you need to clear the air and begin once again. It could help. Give it a try.
I love, love, love this website! This is by far my favorite. I teach in a correctional facility and share your postings with my students often. They go crazy over them. You have helped many of them in many ways. Thank you!
You’re spot on about a lot of those things, however you leave some important factors out. Like if a person is mentally unstable, has suffered physical or mental debilitating trauma, psychosis… things like that. Of course, these things are not the norm for everyone, but still worth mentioning. Just saying.
Always on point!!!! I totally agree that you can’t drop two sizes by the snap of your fingers… or accomplish much in life either, most good things come by work… Thank you! Stay Blessed!
@All: Thank you, thank you. Waking up to your comments is so inspiring. 😉 Please keep them coming.
@Margie: Thank you for spreading our work on to your friends and family. I really appreciate it and I hope it inspires them.
@Adam: Good perspective. There is indeed a difference between unhappiness and chronic depression. Chronic depression is a whole different beast that must be dealt with separately, and oftentimes requires in-depth psychiatric medical attention.
@Issy: You may translate as long as every translated article references and links to our original article (preferably at the very top of each translation).
Kyle Richey says
You guys are the masters of the list, and lately I’ve found myself journaling the opposites of the lists (especially when they’re focusing on what NOT to do, or the negatives to avoid).
That makes this list go something like:
“7 Good Habits of Happy People”
1. Don’t play it too safe.
2. Never doubt yourself.
3. You don’t have to control everything.
4. Set realistic expectations.
5. Have a good attitude.
6. Get exercise regularly.
7. Take good things in moderation.
It’s been helping me to do this in my journal, so I figured I’d throw it out there for everyone!
Love the column, bought the book & am telling everyone I know. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I feel as if you follow me around each week, and know exactly what to say to give me that extra push to make myself better. You’ve helped me through a terrible break up, a job change, and I’m sure I couldn’t have done it without your constant reminders! Thank you, you’re a beautiful beautiful soul!
Great posting and as others have said, just what I needed to see when I needed to see it!
I really liked number 6 especially and I hope that it’s OK that I featured it on my website. Of course, I gave you full credit and links back.
Thanks for everything you do!!
These are very good. But, have you read and fully implemented the 4 hour body? The Doctor who did a full review and a few others on Amazon found it wanting severely. Not to rain on the parade … Otherwise, very good, essential advice. Thanks!
Jorge Blanco says
I really like tip number 4. I think this is where people often have a problem with. Knowing what’s realistic and not can be quite a challenge especially if you fail to accept certain truths (life is uncertain and things don’t always go according to plan).
There’s a book called “Success.” The author says that one *should* set slightly unrealistic expectations. That is, to set huge, hard, difficult goals — LIKE dropping 2 jeans sizes or whatever in a week; the point being that if you set a goal really high, you will super and sub consciously try even harder to get to that huge goal, versus having a ‘realistic’ goal that you will achieve and be like ‘meh, that was cool.’
chasing joy says
These are great habits to avoid. While I am guilty of many of them I think you are right on the money. Time for me to make some changes
Thank so much for your daily postings… They bring me back to reality and they make realize how fortunate I am.
Many blessings to both of you.