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
These are great habits to avoid. Thank you for sharing such a great article that helps me in so many ways. The last few years I have been dealing with some issues that almost broke me. Reading your posts helps me put things into perspective. Helping me to move forward and find happier moments.
Sandy Peckinpah says
Number 9 – holding on to someone who hurts you – that one really resonated with me. I was betrayed by a friend and I continue to seek her approval because we do business together. Maybe the damage it has done to me isn’t worth the business. Thank you again for your insightful outlook.
This is a solid list. I would also add: Not being grateful. Being gateful for what you have is one of the most important habits possible. There was a time in my life that about all I had was my two sons and a roof over our heads. I would not have changed a thing. I was very blessed having those two healthy faces looking at me. I knew life was good and everything would continue to get better as long as I kept pushing ahead.
Things in life have their own paths. Be them material possessions, a partner in life or even a new family member. Things happen for a reason and if you allow events to unfold themselves by just doing what you do best, you will then notice that events materialise just like how you always wanted them. LIFE IS GOOD:)
This is a great list!
Number one starts off with a bang. It’s so true that we have a tendency to focus on the stories of others instead of our own. Maybe we don’t want to face the fact that we’re responsible for our lives. Maybe we’re too afraid to see what is ‘behind the curtain.’ Pull back the curtain to reveal your own story. Be the star in your own story and you’ll be much happier.
I agree with Sandy, #9 struck a cord with me also. Thanks for your insightful messages, they always help.
Great post and as always there’s always something in there that gives me a smack across the forehead. It’s all good. #2 is the statement for the day for me. 🙂 Have an awesome weekend!
Thank you. #’s 1, 5, 6, and 10 are true for me. I have to embrace my own individuality. In high school, I was a people pleaser. I recommend that should be added on the list. If you please others, you won’t be happy. Plus it leads to 5 and 6. 10 is what I have to take to heart. I’ve had crushes on guys in middle and high school just because of looks. I have improved in college. Thank you again.
I have only in the last year begun to notice the difference in the two variations described in number 7. I’m finding that the more I embrace enduring contentment, the less importance I place on the other 9 in this list. This makes letting go of the those things much easier. Thank you for these daily reminders.
I often wait for the perfect moment… but I know gotta do it now.
I agree with most of what’s said here, but I disagree with number 10 – physical attractiveness is just as important as having personalities connect, spiritually connect, etc. There is a synergy, an inter-relation between these aspect. All of these qualities make up the spice that creates that magnetic draw to another person.
Should physical attractiveness be the number one deal breaker? absolutely not! But if we hit it off on all points but the attraction, that says to me it’s simply not there.
If your partner doesn’t hit it for you on ALL points, you’re settling. Why would you settle for less than you want, and less than your best? A person shouldn’t need a partner to make them great, a person should want a partner to share in their greatness.
Jane Bailey Bain ('LifeWorks') says
This is a bit of a generalization, but women are often particularly guilty of #1. We act as teachers or nurses, and nurture other people (which is a good thing). We also need to remember however that in order to continue giving and supporting, we have to nourish ourselves. We have to be the change we want to see in the world, not just cheerleaders.
Awesome. This one’s going on my fridge.
David Rapp says
I would only add “I have to go at it alone.” So many times you go to start a big change, and you lock up for all the reasons listed here. I am dealing with a thorny issues that I thought about constantly for 6 months. I reached out to 7 friends, and they had all dealt with the same issue before. I got further in two days than the previous half-year. If I had not asked? Who knows! Sometimes you need a hug and a kiss, other times a swift kick in the ass.
I started getting email updates about 2 years ago, I thought it was junk mail and neglected to open it until one day I read the Caption “Practical Tips for Productive Living”. I instantly opened the email up and started reading and reading and reading… I am now addicted to this blog and love everything about it! Thank you for all the hard work that is put into this on a daily basis!
May you all be blessed!
@diego: Stay strong my friend. Glad our posts are helping.
@Sandy Peckinpah: That’s a tough one. In my mind, it’s always best to distance business and pleasure when you clearly see relationships take a turn for the worse like this. Perhaps you need to emotionally separate this person from your personal life – leaving them only as a business associate for now.
@Karen: Great addition. Thank you.
@Nick: Yep. It’s simply about accepting reality and making the best of it.
@Amandah: Responsibility is key. We must be the standout protagonist of our own story.
@T.J. and AniToddSmith: Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the post.
@Aiyana: Excellent points, and great addition.
@Karen (the second one): I couldn’t agree more. Understanding the difference between the two is life changing.
@carollee: Yep, it’s all about making a moment perfect by taking action
@Nick: I agree with everything you’ve said. My point is just what you stated: “Should physical attractiveness be the number one deal breaker? Absolutely not!” Too many people, whether they intend to or not, weigh physical attractiveness as their number one criteria for a relationship. This happens in friendships just as often as it does in intimate relationships. We judge books by their covers…
@Jane Bailey Bain: Excellent point. I think we all do this, men and women alike. Sometimes we get so busy assisting those we love that we forget all about ourselves.
@Maryann: Glad you enjoyed it. Pin it up. That makes me smile.
@David Rapp: Having a support group of friends or business associates to bounce ideas off of is immensely important. It sounds like you made an excellent decision. Good luck with your venture.
@Roya: I’m so glad you re-found us! Thank you so much for the kind remarks.
Abdul Rauf says
We have to understand ‘ourselves’ and our value. We are all here to do our best. Perfect moments don’t actually exist, rightly said. Thanks. Again superb article by Marc and Angel. Stay blessed.
Very nice article. Some excellent suggestions in there that all should take to heart.
I really needed this today. My heart goes out to anyone who is trying to win the approval of someone who does not want them. Please realize that you have nothing to prove. You are loved, you are loved, you are loved. Please know this.
Vicky Mavs says
Inspiring! 🙂 I like numbers 4 and 5 especially… whenever we hold back because we are scared of the unexpected, it seems like we are letting the chance to live a full life pass. I’m the adventurous type so I’m so into exploring unexpected, though I sometimes worry that it could lead to hurt.
It is a pleasure to read your writings Angel. Your words make sense, give strength and help me move forward. Thank you.
Chu Nam says
Happiness is key to living a fulfilling and successful life. What makes you truly happy is something you need to keep as part of your life. Moving from where you are to where you want is a process – many things happen and change. But you have to design a life that works for who you truly are.
Sandy Peckinpah says
Thank you Angel, that’s exactly what I will do. We used to have such a great connection both personally and in business. I now see that I should keep my relationship courteous but professional.
Honut Sinti says
Very good list.
I left a well paying job 3 months ago due to a number of factors including negative stress and workplace drama. I have always been successful in my career but legacy issues from prior management and the mix of people made it challenging. It started to adversely impact my health and well being.
Now that I am away from that place, freelancing and looking for another permanent job after a 2 months rest, I am amazed at how at peace I feel. Despite the current economy, I have been able to get interviews and am under consideration for several jobs in a more focused career path. I remain hopeful.
This list really resonated for me – I’ve fallen into a lot of these habits lately. I think what is important is that big changes in life might take small steps, but you have to trust those small steps will take you to the right place, as long you are honest with yourself and others about what has to be done. Thank you for writing this post! It really put things into perspective for me.
@ Abdul Rauf: You got it. Honestly doing your best is what’s important.
@ Vadim: Beautiful encouragement. So many need it. Thank you.
@ Vicky Mavs: Remember, that hurt you speak of is positive pain, so long as you’re learning and using what you learn to take an educated step forward.
@ MsMarieH and Rita: Thank you.
@Chu Nam: I completely agree. Designing a lifestyle that makes you happy is important.
@Honut Sinti: It sounds like you’re on the right path. Keep hustling and keep listening to your intuition. You’ll find the right gig, it’s just a matter of time. Best of luck to you.
@Fahim: Step by step – that’s an excellent strategy for success. Someday all those little steps will add up to a journey of a 1000+ miles. =)
These are all great reminders! I particularly appreciate #2 because its a bit less obvious for some of us. Waiting for ideal timing is not only a happiness stealer, it’s a sneaky dream saboteur that can seem so ‘sensible’. I encourage folks to reexamine every seeming rational reason for postponing dreams. There is only now.
Sufian Chaudhary says
Amazing. No 1 & 2 are absolutely amazing. Some real insight into some of the greatest limitations holding us back from expressing our true potential. Both of these were worded extremely well, it’s not often you find something where you’re just soaking up every single word!
Thanks for sharing. So true, hate isn’t good for our mental health… when you hate someone, your heart fills with anger. Set your heart free…
Thank you for another amazing, thought provoking post!
And to Vadim (in comments above)- Good timing for me too. Thanks.
I love this post. It has come at a timely moment for me. Thank you.
Kerry Jones says
So much yes to #2 & #3. Always get me thinking when I stop by here. Thank you!
Thank you! Again, another amazing post.
Thank you so much : )
This post is so realistic that I can almost relate to every word of it. I just have one question on #9 holding on to someone who hurt you. What if that person is someone you need to have a good relationship with, like your mother or your father? How do you approach it without feeling guilty thinking that no matter what she did, she/he is still your parent and you have to respect them even if they hurt you and your relationship to people close to your heart more than once. Because they are your parents, they gave you life. Pls help.
Wow!! An awakening for me…
to Jacinth @ #9:
I totally relate to needing a relationship with a relative who wounded me. You have to decide which price you want to pay: stay in the relationship and deal with the pain of his/her maltreatment and lack of accountability? Or remove yourself from the situation and miss them?
As for myself, I chose to remove myself from several relationships where people refused to admit the pain they inflicted. It gave me peace, and it made me physically healthier, too, because dealing with those people stressed me out.
This is not a popular path to take, and it’s got a hefty price: loneliness for family.
For me, though, the loneliness is no more than what I bore IN the family, and at least now I don’t have to feel like my reality is challenged all the time.
I will point out, too, that relationships always require work, even if you’re born into them.
by the way, Angel:
I’ve nominated your blog for the Very Inspiring Blog award. I don’t know how to ping it (thought I did it right in my post, but it’s not here)–
so here is the original post:
I can TOTALLY relate to your comment and it’s taken me 20yrs to realize. The last 6 yrs were the hardest. I was not birn into this family either.
Loved this whole blog!:-)
brendA surfin says
I felt my heart and mind open up as I read your article. Now, it’s not that I haven’t heard or thought of some of these points before, but I know as a senior now I realize it’s never to late to readjust your mindset.
Thank you for this, I find inspiration in all the articles and postings … you say what I think. I know what I want to say, but you write it so amazingly. I am working on all of the habits to avoid. Thank you
Victor Emert says
Thank you. A good, solid list. Now… take action!
Heather W says
Number 9 is a HUGE one for me. I have very few friends, so when the ones I do have hurt me, I tend to try to mend fences. I had one friend dump me for no reason that I can see. She won’t talk to me so I haven’t a clue what I did. I have other friends and family who constantly ignore me or never include me in things that are going on. It’s caused me to feel very worthless and isolated.
This just reinforces the fact that I need to try harder to not let them rent space in my head. It says more about them than it does about me.
This article made my day, very important ideas I got from here.. thanks! :))
#3 is soo true. Once I quit my job and started doing what I love I haven’t looked back. Money means much less when you can do what you want when you want.
mike ahuja says
I understand why i have a positive outlook on everything in life…none of the above applies to me – thankfully.
I agree with and strive to learn from all these happiness stealing habits. Number 9 is especially painful to me as the person I need to walk away from is my own adult child. She has hurt me to the core and I must walk away or it will destroy me. It is easier said than done, I may have to leave my precious grandson, too. But, my happiness depends on it. I have made huge strides in the last two years, from leaving a terrible marriage, finding love at 60 and an wonderful new job. This blog has brought me great joy and knowledge and I expect it to continue. Thank you Marc and Angel, thank you.
#3: I will do work that defines me. Good one! I would go so far as to add: I will do work in a way that defines me… Not just the task is defining, but the person we show ourselves to be while doing the tasks matters (complaining all the time? Or encouraging to those we work with? Trustworthy? Or flaky? Hardworking? Reliable? Adding value where we are at?) those things change the quality of our lives as well as those of the lives around us.
Thanks for a wise and insightful post.
Sometimes people hurt you because they hate themselves… don’t walk away to fast.
Mike T Smith says
This list is well thought out and amazing. Like so many others, #2 resonated with me most. 4 months ago I left a job that paid well, but stressed me out because you had to “play the game” to supposedly keep the upper management happy. Of course “play the game” was code for lying to make your numbers. It was an internal struggle daily. I left and decided to pursue my passion of speaking to youth and I’ve even wrote a book. Thank you for sharing Angel.
Shay West says
For me, number 9 led to number 4 😉 Been working on letting go of the bitterness and hate. Taking it one day at a time.