post written by: Marc Chernoff

8 Ways to Stop Hurting Your Happiness


8 Ways to Stop Hurting Your Health and Happiness

“No medicine cures what happiness cannot.”
―Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

It takes no more time to see the good side of life and act upon it than it does to see the bad side and trip over it.  If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your thinking.  If you know you’re on the wrong track right now, take a deep breath.  It’s OK.  Sometimes you have to be wrong before you can be right.

The road of life is rarely smooth.  It’s easy to stumble and fall and hurt yourself.  But these bumps and bruises are a necessary part of your growth – you fall down, you learn something, and then you brush yourself off and move forward.

Today, let’s take a step forward.  Your bad habits – the ones that hurt your health and happiness – are 100% dependent on YOU for their survival.  Stop allowing these habits to control, limit, stifle, and discourage you from being your best self.  Today is YOURS to shape; own it!  Break free from the bad habits that are poisoning and diluting your potential.

1.  Stop resisting what is.

Life is a series of continuous natural events and changes.  Don’t resist them; doing so only creates unnecessary stress.  Let the reality of these events and changes take place.  Let them flow.  Or as Henry Wadsworth once said, “For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”

To move forward in life you must first accept the reality of what it is.  This acceptance provides you with an important starting point from which you can move in any direction you choose.  To deny this reality or to fight against the past will merely waste your time and energy.  To wish that things were different, or to pretend that they are, gets you nowhere.

Acceptance is letting go and allowing things to be the way they truly are.  It doesn’t mean you don’t care about improving the realities of life; it’s just realizing that the only thing you really have control over is yourself in the present moment.  This simple understanding is the foundation of acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be peace and growth in your life.

Forgiveness is a big part of this process.  Forgiveness is the acceptance of the present moment, as it is, without attachment to any other time, place, or circumstance.  Almost all negativity is caused by a lack of forgiveness and denial of the present.  Unease, anxiety, guilt, tension, stress, worry, and resentment – all forms of unhealthy attachment – are caused by too much past and future, and not enough presence.

2.  Stop over-complicating things.

There are specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world that you have to understand before you can awaken to a simpler, happier life.  As Einstein once said, “Out of clutter, find simplicity; from discord, find harmony; in the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.”

Sometimes we make life more complicated than it is.  We attach our happiness to achievement and then look for it in all the wrong ways and in all the wrong places.  Of course, you don’t have to live like this.  If you feel like you are, it’s time to simplify things.  It’s time to clear the air and get back to the basics.

Simplifying is not seeing how little you can get by with – that’s poverty – but how efficiently you can put first things first, and use your time accordingly to pursue the things that make a difference and mean the most to you.  Less really is more.  Instead of adding, improve your life by subtracting.  Get rid of unnecessary clutter, negative influences and toxic relationships.  There is a big difference between what you want and what you need, between what’s excessive and what’s essential.  (Angel and I discuss this process in the Simplicity chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3.  Stop going through the motions without knowing where you’re going.

Life is kind of like climbing a ladder; you can climb the ladder as fast as you want, but it’s going to be a stressful waste of time if you get to the top and realize you’re leaning against the wrong wall.  You need to get this step in your life right to ensure that you are not wasting your energy on goals that you do not truly want to achieve.  Make sure your goals are truly YOURS, and in line with your values.  If you’re striving for someone else’s goals you are never going to be motivated or happy pursuing them.

So the key is to figure out a few things that you truly want, and make sure you truly understand why you want these things.  Then write your mission statement.  It’s not just about setting goals; it’s a big picture project that helps you figure out who you are, what you represent, and where you intend to go in life.  It’s your personal manifesto – a framework for determining your actions, priorities, and opportunities.

Establish goals that inspire you even if they seem slightly out of reach at the moment.  If you set goals that are too easy to achieve, you likely achieve far less than you are capable of.  As Les Brown so profoundly said, “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss you will still be standing among the stars.”

4.  Stop abandoning your downtime.

Sometimes you just need to rest, think and be thankful.  Go ahead and withdraw from the cares of the world that will not withdraw from you.

Every person needs some time away – a few calm moments every day to consciously separate the productive from the busy and the past from the present.  Commitments, obligations, family, employers and friends can exist during this time frame without you.  You deserve this time away in which no problems are faced and no solutions explored.

Remember that rest is part of growing and getting stronger.  Your body and mind need to shut down every now and then to recuperate.  It’s simple: slow down, breathe and get more sleep.  Results = work + rest.

Create healthy habits for downtime.  No screens within 30 minutes of bedtime.  Drink decaffeinated tea instead of coffee and soda.  Decompress by writing, reading or meditating.  Get at least seven hours of sleep to rejuvenate your mind and muscles.  Etc.  (Read The Power of Less.)

5.  Stop using non-prescribed drugs to numb your true self.

Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your body and mind, your self-respect and everything good that goes along with your self-esteem.

People use drugs, legal and illegal, because the lives they choose to live are intolerably dull and unhappy.  They hate their surroundings, their work and routines and find no comfort in their leisure activities.  They are estranged from their true friends, families and passions, and yet they still find time to chat with a stranger at a bar about matters of insignificance.  It should tell you something, that many forms of drug use in our society are socially acceptable and socially promoted, whereas this same level of consumption among our moments of solitude are often lonely and shameful.  We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost touch with our true selves and each other.

Forget the drugs.  Focus on reality.  Feel your true senses and use them to fuel your journey.

6.  Stop eating garbage.

Health can make or break your happiness and potential for success.  You have to feed your body what it needs – REAL food.  You don’t have to be a vegan, go Paleo, or keep up with a crazy diet to be healthy.  Just eat high quality, nutritious foods and eliminate sugars and processed garbage.  Eat foods that come from the Earth, not out of some machine or chemistry set.

Also, practice mindful eating.  Don’t dine in front of the television.  No eating straight out of the bag either.  Make yourself a plate and measure out reasonable portions.  Try to savor or at least taste what you are eating.  Use smaller plates and drink more water to prevent overeating.

7.  Stop neglecting your body.

Move and you will be rewarded with energy, confidence and clear thinking.

Regardless of the size and shape of your body, it is the greatest tool you will ever own and the only place you ever truly live.  Without it, you wouldn’t be alive.  How you take care of it or fail to take care of it can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life.

Studies have shown that exercising for fifteen minutes, three days each week, can add three years to your life.  And it will also help you feel darn good about yourself, because a fit, healthy body is by far the most attractive fashion statement.  (Read The 4-Hour Body.)

8.  Stop slacking on doing the work.

There is no secret to success, health or happiness, except doing the work.  Don’t ask for permission or apologize for wanting to pursue a meaningful goal; just pursue it already.   Be confident in your abilities and clueless to the idea that failure is an option.  Learn as you go.  Fail forward.

The world needs your ideas, your art, and your work.  If you are holding back because you’re scared, you’re not just letting yourself down; you’re letting us all down.  Forget about critics and pessimists; share your intelligence and unique perspectives.  Once you do, and the hustle gets in your veins, failure will cease to be relevant.

Be willing to do the work because you believe in it, because you can, because it’s the right thing to do.  Persist despite uncertainties and second-guessing.  Do it consistently today, tomorrow and every day thereafter. Walk the talk.  Actions speak so much louder than words.  Stop talking about all of the great ideas you have and DO something EPIC.  Explanations and justifications are useless when actions and results speak for themselves.

The floor is yours…

How have you been hurting your health and happiness?  What’s one bad habit you need to stop?  Please leave a comment below.

Photo by: Zitona

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39 Comments

  • Marc and Angel, you both are my inspirational teachers. This post was timely and amazing.

    I have been hurting my happiness in more ways than I can count, but I’m making progress…

    Thank you for this. Every few days I am sure to read one of your posts or a few pages of your book. They really give me the extra strength to move forward and fight for my honest existence. Little by little I am gaining more courage to forget my dark past and overcome my fears. Your posts are like bullets of positivity hitting me from deep within, and through them I’ve found many of the answers I’ve been searching for.

  • I think that’s just it, many times we are so caught up in a way of doing things - something we practiced a lot - that we even gain speed in it. So stopping is not so easy, it’s just like trying to stop a speeding, loaded truck: you need to use the brakes in an intelligent way. Need to take small steps that slow it first, before you break the bad habit.

  • I’m right there with J.J. on most days. I see myself in a few of the points above. The first two are definitely my biggest struggles at the moment. Thank you for another refreshing read.

  • All excellent points. #1 is incredibly difficult for me, but over time I’ve gotten much better at it, and when nonacceptance creeps in, I’m able to push it out of my mind within minutes instead of hours or days.

  • “Here’s the time to act: when the idea is hot and the emotion is strong.” - Jim Rohn

    I suggest that everyone who’s read this awesome article and feel inspired to change decide on one thing (and one thing only!) to change and take the first small step immediately.

    It’s very easy to think that just because you’ve read something you’re going to somehow see some change but an idea useless without execution so don’t just think it - do it!

    Super inspiring stuff as always Marc, thanks for sharing! :)

  • Good article, that will lead to good results if followed.

  • It was really inspiring to read the article! There is so much truth in it. I will try to learn from the great advices. Thank you for the great inspiration :)

  • Hi there,
    This is the fourth post I’ve read recently that reminded me about resistance … recently I signed up for a few new bloggers and Steven Pressfield was another … and the first one I received from him was “Self-Loathing and Resistance” … I mention this because it seems relevant here … his point as I interpreted it was that resistance is a natural phenomena and not personal … we experience it personally, individually, but we are not alone. Everyone’s experiencing it all the time, and that’s not only comforting, it’s empowering … to our growth … Good post, great timing … thanks.

  • Gosh, the first three are all big ones for me. This post was such an insightful overview. I love how you balance, quick reads some day with more in depth posts like this one. Thanks.

  • Every posting seems to bring something I need. Some days I need all of it, some days just a few. I’m afraid if I started printing out and posting on my fridge all the articles that are relevant to me, I would no longer find the fridge!

    Thank you M&A for wonderful insights. Numbers 1, 2 and 4 are hitting me hard this morning.

  • Excellent post today Marc! Just thought I’d share something in line with #8. For a guy who was able to pretty much skate thru high school without much real effort, I got a rude awakening when I got to college. I learned very fast that I would only be successful upon the realization that I had to “DO THE WORK”. Over the years, that idea along with a couple others borrowed from Napoleon Hill and Bill Belichick, has grown to be 3 very simple statements that I try to keep in mind everyday. Perhaps sharing them will help some other folks too :-)

    “DO YOUR JOB.”
    “DO THE WORK.”
    “DO IT NOW!”

  • Wonderful overview of how to live life skillfully.

    It’s taken me close to five decades to figure a lot of this out for myself — wish I had read your work in my 20’s!

    One lesson I would add from my own experience is to stay agile in your approach to life. Switch up your fitness regime from time to time, avoid strict diets, find different ways to quiet your mind (meditation, walking in nature, or simply turning off your phone and the radio while driving), explore different paths that branch out from your passion.

    We’re meant to be happy — not the excited, overstimulated kind of happy all the time, but the calm, content kind of happy that living as you describe brings about.

    We need to get quiet enough to be able to hear our hearts, to be able to sense our true state of mind, so that we can make adjustments if necessary.

    Thanks for the inspiring post!

  • The most important lesson I have learnt is that happiness is a choice first and foremost.

    While it may be true that many of our circumstances, environment and surroundings can affect how we feel and how we view life, but ultimately, how we choose to feel and react is our own choice.

    I have also learnt that it is important to appreciate the ‘bad’ as much as the good, as the wise saying goes, ‘There would not be a rainbow, without a little rain.’

    Thank you for your wise words, as always.

  • #1, 2, 4 & 8.

    I waste too much time wishing for what isn’t, from the past and future, while I have to force myself to focus on what is, making it miserably hard to enjoy the present and just live in the moment. Kind of miss the days when I was flying by the seat of my pants and going with the flow, but I do hope I get back to that joy again at some point.

    Over-complicating things is something I just recently got a grasp on, so I’ve just about beat that one.

    I have no idea how to ‘do’ downtime. I’ve been going and going for so long, it makes me feel guilty, like I’m wasting time and being lazy. So this balance I recently imposed on myself with work AND a social life is still new and very uncomfortable.

    But #8 is probably the biggest bad habit I’m dealing with right now. It all feels like slacking off, no matter how systematically and carefully I move towards a goal. Baby steps so slow they feel like walking backwards drive me freaking nuts.

    “Stop talking about all of the great ideas you have and DO something EPIC.” This is really awesome and so perfect. Thank you.

  • I love about 99.9% of what you guys have to say, but when you get it wrong, you get it totally wrong.

    Your #5 is far too sweeping and generalized. Sure, drugs can be used for the wrong reasons but saying “Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your body and mind, your self-respect and everything good that goes along with your self-esteem.

    People use drugs, legal and illegal, because the lives they choose to live are intolerably dull and unhappy. They hate their surroundings, their work and routines and find no comfort in their leisure activities” is a superficial way of looking at things…

  • Oh, I meant to add a bad habit that I’ve had to overcome that hurts happiness:

    Don’t be so rigid or embedded in your thinking or way of life that you can’t be flexible and adjust, step out of the box or open to new ideas and a different approach. Sometimes, a simple course-correction makes all the difference.

  • I understand about the fridge problem. I print my favourite posts, and it’s now a fairly big stack that has ended up in the bathroom.

    Visitors to my place always come back from the loo with a whole new perspective of life lol.

    Thanks for this post Marc - each point full of amazingly valuable insight.

  • I think we are all mising a big one: Define your own version of happiness. If its a mission statement great. If its a quote, or few of them, awesome. If its a philosophy, cool.

    Mine is this “I give you a new commandment; that you should love one another. Just as I loved you, so you too should love one another.” And for me, the toughest person to love is me.

  • Wow!!

  • Marc,

    Powerful stuff. We are often the architects of our own misery.

    The path to increased happiness really can be following a few simple steps.

    My favorite step is #4. Personally I sometimes find it easy to get caught up in the minutia of work-a-day life and not take time off.

    But as you pointed out, time off to rest mind, body and spirit is essential to health and happiness.

    -Thanks,

    Steve

  • Just what I needed to read today. In the midst of changes - foot in two different worlds and feeling overwhelmed about moving forward.

    I know alot of what you wrote, and do believe in putting forth the effort; just don’t have that energy atm.

    Seems I am stuck in the laws of inertia atm altho I prefer to be stuck in the laws of motion.

    Perhaps I am shoulding myself too much!

  • All of your points are great. I struggle with #4 the most.

    I have to be careful not to allow my downtime/sleep to be pushed aside. I find it tough to be happy when I’m overtired.

  • I’m sort of at this place and working hard to get through it, right now. I can relate to so much you have said. This is a big help to me. It came just when I needed it. Thank you, once again!

  • I have been ignoring my health for few years, until few months ago I realised how much wrong I was doing to myself!

    Once I started incorporating good things back into my life, I feel a bit better!

  • I just found your website and I think its wonderful.

    Like Nancy, I struggle with “should.” It is a tool I use to torture myself. Whenever I hear the word “should” I start sweating and biting my lips. It is a word that implies there is something I need to be doing, but am not.

    As I get older I look for more ways to soak up everything I can from every moment. Lately I have been overdoing it. Its almost like I had to slap my hand and say “Knock it off, now is not the time to do too much.”

    Thank you for the great article, and for putting it in list form.

  • Oh my goodness, #1& 8, resisting and confidence. Yep, I could say they all are me, but these are the 2 biggest ones.

    I read all of these posts, and yes, you are talking to me. But the best part of it is that everyone else here thinks you are talking to them. We are all the same, but different. Such a great thing. So awesome!

    I love reading the comments from your followers. Most are all spot on - all the time.
    Christy King, Patrik Edblad and David Rapp - thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Thank you Marc & Angel - please keep posting, I am working on baby steps and need the reinforcement.

  • I’ve always wanted to be Happy but often I tend to think about things that made me sad and cry. Some part of me feels incomplete but I still believe in God and I always read those happiness tips you write here on your blog site. Every word and phrase you write hits me, so I decided to commit myself in a new mindset where people can understand me and also help those who lose faith and hope. Thanks for INSPRIRING me!!!

  • You inspire and motivate me every time I read your blog. My husband passed away Dec 2011 and recently someone told me I hadn’t accepted his death or let him go. I didn’t realize it until reading #1 that maybe she is right. I still walk around feeling like I wish things were different. I don’t want to let him go and maybe it is holding me back. I want to be happy but a part of me is afraid of it too. Since his death I have been working hard on finding myself again, my true identity. I’m taking better care of myself and have lost weight and look better in the process. I have transformed myself but still have a hard time establishing goals for the future….I’m just coasting along…….working and going to school. I sometimes get so burnt out and do absolutely nothing but always feel guilty. There is so much Clutter left in my life that I still need to go through and let go of. Anyway, As always you have me thinking.

  • One of the big things that I believe we need to do is to stop putting work before loved ones. A deadline is never worth the possibility of not being able to spend time around the people you love. More work will be there after you’re finished, but there is never a guarantee that they will be.

  • @ J.J.: It sounds like you’re on the right path! 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. Keep up the great work!

    @ Brian W: Absolutely! Continue to take baby steps in the right direction.

    @ Christy King: And I am sure that has made a tremendous difference in your happiness. =)

    @ Patrik Edblad: You hit the nail on the head, Patrik! I think many of us are guilty of reading an inspiring article and enjoying the read rather than implementing action. So get into action now and begin moving in the right direction.

    @ Lee: Good addition! I think the biggest take away from Steven Pressfield’s post is to act and bring your dream to realization. Too many people get stuck in the self-loathing and never take action.

    @ Kathy: Ha, we’re all in the same boat! =)

    @Buddy: Simple and to the point. I love it!

    @Martha Brettschneider: Choose to listen to your own inner voice and give it the opportunity to be heard. Great addition!

    @Melissa Webster: I’ve found that scheduling “downtime” makes me feel less guilty. For example I know Saturdays are my day to relax and take time for me. What’s the saying… time spent wasting time isn’t wasted? Schedule that in this week. =)

    @Norma: It’s an ongoing process. You’re doing great!

    @All: As always, thank you for sharing. As you can see, many of us struggle with similar obstacles. You are not alone. Decide today to be happy and start taking action to a happier, healthier YOU.

  • As much as I know all of these things, I think I need to print this out & post it where I can see it every day!

  • I have often called your point about over-complicating things simply over-thinking things. It can be so easy to be caught in a mental loop that goes nowhere, and drains time and positive energy.

  • I have been reading your posts for about a year now and always find bits of inspiration! This post really struck me, as I was just thinking about my own happiness today and why at certain times I feel very down and tend to criticize myself. Although I try to be mindful of it, I sometimes find myself wishing that things were different and that certain situations or hardships in my life would just disappear! Another thing I truly struggle with is “eating garbage” and “neglecting my body”, I have struggled with an eating disorder for several years and have trouble accepting my body and I suppose myself for who and what I am meant to be. Thank you for your wonderful posts!

  • Sometimes I do what makes me unhappy on automatic pilot. I’m not sure why, but I keep struggling forward… Marc, what do you think I can do?

  • One of my bad habits is going to bed too late. I often find myself doing something late at night or wandering the internet, which makes it so much harder to wake up early the next morning. And I know that there’s nothing better than waking up early in a natural rhythm feeling energized and ready to take on another day!

  • I love this, and it’s so timely for me. Lately, I’ve been shifting into a new place where I am forcing myself to stop waiting for the right time to be happy. I think that this has been a barrier to happiness in my past-always thinking that I’ll allow myself to relax and be happy when every piece of my life falls perfectly into place. I own a very busy acupuncture/hypnosis clinic, and in the stress of starting and maintaining a successful business, my own ability to enjoy life fell by the wayside for a long time. I’m just now realizing that there is never a perfect time to hold out for when it comes to happiness; you just need to let it sneak in whenever the opportunity arises!

  • Such amazing posts and such positive inspiration. #8 really stands out for me as I’ve been putting off going back to work for so many reasons but the main one being the feeling that I have nothing to give and that having been at home with my children for so long, the world has evolved and I fear jumping back onto the work wagon, so to speak! Your posts are helping me to come back to life, so thank you… x

  • You are my daily dose of inspiration… thank you and more power to you Marc and Angel.

  • Thank you for your words!

    Im in a pretty dark and self-loathing place right now and I appreciate the tips you give us.

    It takes a very strong person to pull themselves out of the darkness and into a happiness they have created. I am determined to be this strong!

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