post written by: Marc Chernoff
7 Miserable Choices You Make Too Often
“We become what we repeatedly do.”
Are you tired of dealing with the same type of grief over and over and over again?
If so, it’s time to purge a few 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 cut out the habits that have been holding you back, change the tune, clean the house, and get rid of the dust and dirt. Stop denying yourself a fair chance at a good life. Stop being who you were, and become who you truly are.
When you stop doing the wrong things, the right things start happening. Take the following habits and flip the switch:
1. Keeping all the pressure of your thoughts inside you.
Even if someone has known you for your entire life, it is impossible for them to know exactly what you’re thinking and feeling. They can’t feel something for you or know exactly how your mind is processing thoughts. They could invest every bit of their energy over the course of their entire lifetime in an attempt to achieve this understanding, but in the end they would fall short.
This is precisely why you need to open up and speak your mind to a supportive confidant who will listen to you without judgment. Only then will they get a momentary, unfiltered glimpse into your soul. Only then will you feel the pressure of your thoughts subside.
If you feel extremely stressed or even a bit depressed, then you’re likely feeling very alone. It’s vital that you talk to someone who is sympathetic, whether this person is your spouse, parent, sibling, a good therapist, or just a trusted friend. So many people suffer in silence and feel that they would be a burden to others if they spoke up about their troubling thoughts.
Understand that your mental health is vital and everyone needs a helping hand and a listening ear sometimes. In fact, helping one another is a big part of what makes us human, so opening up and asking for assistance is one way of enabling someone close to you to realize their own humanity.
2. Holding yourself to impossible standards.
Be fair to yourself. Perfectionism is a trap. Your expectations need to expand and contract as circumstances in your life change. When you learn to give yourself a break and feel okay about not being able to live up to impossible standards, then you can begin to get the worry-free rest your mind and body so badly need.
You will always be perfectly imperfect just the way you are, wherever you are. Instead of berating yourself for falling short, give yourself credit for making progress. Grow as you go. Let go of how things “should be” so you can see all the great possibilities in front of you.
It’s also important to note that there’s no such thing as perfect happiness, just as there’s no such thing as perfect despair. This is why trying to be perfect is an exercise in futility. What does exist, however, is a continuous series of imperfect moments in your life filled with infinite possibilities and opportunities for you to interpret them and do with them as you please.
You can pave the road you travel with doubt and despair or hope and happiness. It’s your choice. Either way, you will someday arrive at the same destination. The only question is: Do you want to arrive with a frown or a smile? (Read The Happiness Hypothesis.)
3. Always going and going and going…
When you get too caught up in the busyness of your daily routine, you lose connection with the important people in your life, and yourself. You end up filling all your waking hours, and then you fool yourself into believing you are relaxing when you’re merely moving from one of your daily labors to the next.
Relaxation is the key to mental and physical recovery. Stopping for a while and taking time to relax when you feel like things are getting out of control will gradually allow your mind and body to feel restored and reenergized again, thus allowing you to reconnect with the right inner mindset and the people and things that matter most to you.
How do you relax? There are many ways, but the foundation of all of them is focused breathing. Your breath is the bridge between your life circumstances and your consciousness; it unites your body and your thoughts. Whenever your thinking becomes scattered with the worries and stress of busyness, use your breath as the means to take hold of your thoughts again. Just breathe, be present, and do your best with what’s in front of you.
4. Changing nothing and expecting different results.
There’s a saying that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you want to improve yourself, you have to try new things to see what works and what doesn’t.
If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Inspiration is great, but it must be met by dedicated action. Changes must be invoked and implemented. The difference between what is impossible and possible for you lies in what you do and how determined you are.
Often the difference between a successful person and a person who struggles to implement positive changes is not one’s superior abilities, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take calculated risks, and to take steady steps forward. In other words, some people sit and wait for the magic beans to arrive while the rest of us just get up and get to work.
So ask yourself: What’s going to be different today? How do you want your life to be from here on out? (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of “1000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.”)
5. Procrastinating and then doing 99 things at once.
Do you plan your days? Did you wake up today knowing what you wanted to accomplish? If not, maybe it’s time you do.
The way you spend your time defines who you are. You don’t get to choose how you are going to die or when; you can only decide how you are going to live right now. Trust me, a year from now you will wish you had managed your time properly today.
What would you regret not accomplishing this year? What would you regret doing an abysmal job at, simply because you waited until the last minute and then rushed around doing 99 things at once? Create a plan to accomplish these things and get started today.
Planning doesn’t have to be long and tedious; it can just be a 60 second process. Every night, think about a few small things that you want to accomplish tomorrow and write them down. When you wake up the next morning, review this list before you do anything else, and then take the first step.
Remember, we only have two choices when we wake up in the morning: either we go back to sleep and dream, or we wake up and chase a dream. In the end it doesn’t matter what you’re thinking, it matters what you’re doing. Whatever you want to accomplish, it’s time to get started now.
6. Ignoring the people you love.
When life gets busy, it’s easy to put the most important people on the back burner, because you know they’ll wait for you. Right?
Wrong. Your important relationships should be at the forefront of your priority list. When we take things for granted, these things eventually get taken away. Too often we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone. Too often it seems we hurt the ones closest to us by letting less important things take precedence over them on a daily basis.
Appreciate what you have, who loves you and who cares for you. You’ll never know how much they mean to you until the day they are no longer beside you. You know who these people are. They’re the ones who are always there with you in spirit – the ones who leave footprints in your thoughts and dreams. They are the glue that binds a smile to your soul. Treat them as such. (Read The Last Lecture.)
7. Ignoring your body’s needs.
The human body is the only machine for which there are no spare parts (unless you borrow them from someone else), so treat your body right. Exercise to be fit, not skinny. Eat to nourish yourself. And always ignore the haters, doubters and unhealthy examples that were once feeding you.
Staying in shape is simpler than most people make it. Body fat is dictated by what you eat and your activity. Working out affects two things mainly: fat and muscle. Aerobic exercise burns fat and builds a little muscle. Weight training builds muscle and burns a little fat. In most cases, if you’re overweight you’re eating too much of the wrong stuff and/or not exercising enough.
Also, keep in mind that your brain is part of your body too. The human brain accounts for roughly 2% of the total mass of the human body, yet it consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients the human body intakes. So even if you don’t care what you’re body looks like, it makes sense to fuel your body with healthy food and keep your blood oxygen levels high with regular exercise.
Bottom line: Take good care of your body. It’s the only place you will ever truly live.
We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us. Realize that you are only destined to become one person – the person you choose to be in this moment. Do good and feel good. Do bad and feel bad. It’s that simple. So don’t be afraid to make necessary changes and start over. Right now is a brand new opportunity to choose differently and build what you truly want.
The floor is yours…
What choices have been hurting your happiness? What habits do you need to change? Please leave a comment below and share a small piece of your story with us.
Photo by: Paul G.