You ultimately become what you repeatedly do. If your habits aren’t helping you, they’re hurting you. Here are a few examples of the latter that will steal your happiness if you let them:
1. Focusing on everyone’s story except your own.
Don’t be so satisfied with the success stories of others and how things have gone for them that you forget to write your own. Unfold your own tale and bring it to life. You have everything you need to become what you are capable of becoming. Incredible change happens when you decide to take control. This means consuming less and creating more. It means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and deciding for you. It means learning to respect and use your own ideas and instincts to write your passage.
If you want your life story to soar to new heights, you’ve got to clear a path, reduce the time-sinks and burdens weighing you down, and pick up the things that give you wings. Keep your best wishes and your biggest goals close to your heart and dedicate time to them every day. If you truly care about what you do and you work diligently at it, there’s almost nothing you can’t accomplish.
2. Waiting for the perfect moment.
Don’t buy into the myth of the perfect moment. Moments aren’t perfect; they’re what you make them. So many people wait around for the stars to align to do what they’re here to do. The perfect moment, the perfect opportunity, the perfect state of being, etc. Wake up! These states of perfection are myths. They do not exist.
Your ability to grow to your highest potential is directly related to your willingness to act in the face of imperfection. You will come to succeed not by finding a perfect moment, but by learning to see and use life’s imperfections perfectly. Read The Power of Now.
3. Working for nothing more than a paycheck.
Work without interest is imprisonment. Even if you aren’t super-passionate about your work, you’ve got to at least be interested in it. When you design a lifestyle in which your work is something you suffer through daily strictly to pay your bills, you end up spending your entire life wishing you had someone else’s.
Think about it. This is your life; your work will fill a large percentage of it. It’s not all about the money; it’s about you. Ignore the propaganda, especially from people who say, “Don’t let your work define you.” Reverse this message and mediate on it: “I will do work that defines me.” When the essence of who you are defines at least some slice of the work you do for a living, that work generates fulfillment.
Bottom line: Interest in your work puts quality in your output and happiness in your mind. Don’t settle for a paycheck. Shuffle around until you find work that interests you.
4. Harboring feelings of hate.
As Martin Luther King Jr. so profoundly said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Truth be told, when we harbor feelings of hate, it eventually gets the best of us. It takes control of us. We forget why we hate, what we hate, and whom we hate – we simply hate for the sake of hating. And then, naturally, we begin to hate ourselves too.
Everything and everyone you hate rents permanent space in both your head and heart. So if you want to eliminate something or someone from your mind, don’t hate. Instead, disconnect yourself, move on, and don’t look back. Read The Mastery of Love.
5. Holding tight to worries and fears.
Someday when you look back over your life you’ll realize that nearly all of your worries and anxious fears never came to fruition – they were completely unfounded. So why not wake up and realize this right now. When you look back over the last few years, how many opportunities for joy did you destroy with needless worry and negativity? Although there’s nothing you can do about these lost joys, there’s plenty you can do about the ones that are still to come.
You will find that it’s necessary to let some things go simply for the reason that they’re heavy on your heart and soul. Let go of them. Don’t clamp shackles to your own ankles. It’s incredibly easy to enjoy more of your life right now, no matter what the situation. It’s just a matter of letting go of the layers of nonsense that are weighing you down.
Let go of your worries and fears, of your rage and jealousy, of your need to always be right and control others. Let go of your pretentiousness and your need to have everything your way. Underneath all these layers of nonsense there is a happy, productive person. When you start peeling them off and simply appreciating everything for what it is, life can be wonderfully fulfilling.
6. Dwelling on difficulties.
A bad day is just a bad day. Choose not to make it anything more. Times of adversity will inevitably affect the conditions in which you live and work; yet you don’t have to let it affect who you are and where you’re headed. Take note of the setbacks and adjust to them, but don’t expand on them by making them a bigger part of your life.
Every day brings new lessons and new possibilities. There is always a way to take the next step forward on the path you’ve chosen. Events may be terrible and inescapable at times, but you always have choice – if not when, then how, you may endure and proceed onward.
7. Constantly seeking fleeting contentment.
There are two variations of contentment in life – fleeting and enduring. The fleeting type is derived from instants of material comfort, while the enduring type is attained through the gradual growth of your mind. At a glimpse it might be difficult to decipher one from the other, but as time rolls on it becomes vividly obvious that the latter is far superior.
Enduring contentment sustains itself through life’s ups and downs, because through them your mind remains confident and at peace. On the other hand, when life’s fleeting changes have the ability to ruffle your mind into a frenzy, even the most elaborate physical comforts won’t make you any happier for very long. Read Stumbling on Happiness.
8. Trying to make a big difference all at once.
If you want to make a difference in the world, start with the world around you. Making a big difference all at once is usually impossible, and the process of trying is extremely stressful. However, instantly making a difference in a few lives is entirely possible and usually fairly easy. You just have to focus on one person at a time and start with the one closest to you.
Work to make a bunch of small splashes, and let the ripples spread naturally. If you want to change a person’s mind or mood, sometimes you have to change the minds or moods of the people around them first. For instance, if you make one person smile, their smile just might make others smile too. In this subtle way, you can touch the masses with your thoughtfulness without stressing yourself out.
9. Holding on to someone who hurts you.
Sometimes you have to walk away from people, not because you don’t care, but because they don’t. When someone hurts you time and time again, accept the fact that they don’t care about you. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s necessary medicine. Do NOT strive to impress them any further. Waste not another second of your time trying to prove something to them. Nothing needs to be proven. Do not act with any thought of them ever again. Read 1,000 Little Things.
10. Over-amplifying the importance of physical attractiveness.
Infatuating yourself with someone simply for what they look like on the outside is like choosing your favorite food based on color instead of taste. It makes no sense. It’s innate, invisible, unquantifiable characteristics that create lasting attraction.
Just as some people enjoy the smell of mint, while others prefer the scent of cinnamon, there is an undeniable, magnetic draw that attracts you to the qualities of certain people, places, and things. Sometimes it’s even the scars your soul shares with them that reels you in and creates the very hinges that hold you together in the long run.
Photo by: Georges Petrequin