“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.
I think I’ve been successful at avoiding the majority of this list, but the opening of this article’s number 1 hit the hardest as well as #5.
I’ve always been a bit distant even from my closest friends and I have been getting better at letting these things out. It’s not good to keep it inside because a lot of it is very painful. However, I’m dealing with the issue that a lot of my friends can’t relate because I’m on such a different path. The only thing I can do is rant. Although it is healthy to do that on occasion, so I suppose the situation isn’t entirely hopeless.
For #5, it’s not as big of an issue nowadays because I’ve learned to budget my time wisely now, but I do remember how bad I was about holding off and tackling everything simultaneously. I plan things on Evernote now, making things much more manageable on a mental level.
Jeremy Day says
The miserable choice I’ve been making is spending too much time with negative people. I’ve found that the worst people to be around are the ones who complain about everything and appreciate nothing. Avoid these people at all costs – that’s the change I’m working on.
Jarod B. says
Superb article, Marc. And all of it is so true. Keep the positivity flowing!?
Not having the energy to change my life is a vicious circle I struggle with daily, but I’m working on it.
Melissa Rini says
Guilty of all of these. I need to get my life together, and this is just the kind of inspiration I needed.
You guys are awesome. This is exactly what I needed to hear today! Keep it up. Thank you for always motivating everyone to do their best. Everyone is always looking for happiness…and it starts from within. I look forward to all your future posts!
Yes Jeremy, I know exactly how you feel. There are negative people everywhere, especially at work, but there are good people too and I try to be around them and it makes me feel much better. Negative, complaining people are toxic and I can’t stand them.
Thanks Marc and Angel for bringing more great inspirations and writing such powerful stuff. I love it!
Sally Head says
This list is so true. Personally, planning my days has changed the way I do work. I just set up small things to accomplish and soon they turn into big accomplishments. Teaching people to take care of their body through diet and exercise is part of what I do every day.
I have been dealing with hypocrites, and I am now focusing on my life first. Thanks for today’s reinforcing article.
Another banger from you guys, always fascinating. “Stop doing the wrong things and the right things will start coming your way…” great line!
I will be 50 tomorrow, and although I think I would have liked to have had inspiration from you in previous years, I think I will benefit more from it now. A step in a positive direction. You should be mindful of how useful, effective and inspiring your words are. Thank you.
I need to focus on my work and prospect daily looking for clients. I also need to start working out so I can stay in shape and be healthier.
Busy bee says
Where’s the “love” button?
What if in number 1 you are the person trusted to listen to a person’s problems and they become too much? Especially if the person is a negative person and so you also have the toxic negativity to deal with? I’m sure boundaries need to come into play here, but I’m struggling with this at the moment…
#1, I feel the need to find balance in my family relationships. What is it that bothers me? Long distance living from family and lack of support from a sibling. Feeling so frustrated, feeling left out… With friends I have no problem… when it is family members it hurts… Thanks for this post.
Janeda Gray says
This is so true. I feel stuck and not sure where to go from here. Baby steps they say.
Number 6 hit me hard today…haven’t seen or spoken to my adult son since June. He’s stopped at the house a couple of times to pick up his mail, but no communication…
Today, I’m going to call him, because waiting him out seems so silly and immature… I’m going to have him read today’s blog with me. We take people for granted too much, or make excuses for them doing the same to us. Regardless of his relationship issues with his girl and her family, he has a family who love him, and I need to remind him of that!!
Always love your articles but especially this one. Been procrastinating about working out; really like the light you put on it: “Bottom line: Take good care of your body. It’s the only place you will ever truly live.”
I think one builds upon another until we get in a constant fight or flight mode. My stresses overloaded last year until my hair started to fall out. I sought acupuncture to help with the stress and I was told at my appointments, all the things listed here. I’ve worked diligently on every area and I’m happy to say it’s true, it works. I’m in a much better place now, at peace and on a positive incline. I just wish I’d have found Marc and Angel sooner! I still LOVE my acupuncture appts though! They help with points #3, 4 and 7, allowing me to focus more on the other areas. Thank you for all your wonderful help!
Denise Hughes says
I look forward to your posts weekly after stumbling on your blog accidentally. It really reminds me of what is truly most important. It is simple advice but 100% true and often forgotten in this culture of go-go-go. I am not a good planner but a little at a time is something I can manage. Love you both! Keep up the amazing writing. You are making a positive difference in many of our lives!
Love your site and look forward to your emails.
#6 is so true, wish I had not had to learn the hard way.
David Rapp says
Great post. A couple of themes here I see. One is ignoring your own needs (physical, mental, and emotional). The other is not changing (going and going, procrastination, etc.). I am a big believer in writing things down. Chuck your to do list as it is, and fill it out again with things you need for yourself first. It works.
This is a great list, I can relate to each list especially number 7. I’m fortunate enough after an illness to go back to the gym and start back taking my favourite class.
It really made made such a difference in how I feel. Exercise has made such a difference in my life that even I’m astonded, I think you have to find an activity that you enjoy and that doesn’t feel like a chore and time will fly.
I feel blessed to be able to have the ability to go back and can tell you, I don’t take it for granted. I’m working out to get back in shape, tone and lose the pounds gained but mostly to tone.
I feel I’ve come along way!
Thank you for this. I have been pondering a life change recently. The phrase that has been floating in my brain is “madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Then this morning, I open up this wonderful list and there it is! A positive sign I think! Thank you for your work and truly caring about people.
Rachel C. says
Wow, I really needed to read this today, thank you. I agree with what Jeremy posted — my real barrier to happiness right now is surrounding myself with negative people. I can’t always avoid them (some are co-workers), but I can do a better job of shielding myself from their negativity.
I was terrible at letting the pressure out. I felt embarrassed that I even had issues, so the last thing I wanted was to let those effect the people around me. Of course indirectly the effects were a lot worse than if I had just talked to them about it. Being grumpy, overly sensitive and unsociable.. So nr. 1 is definitely an important point.
I feel as though I have always been a mental person – not that I am crazy, but in that all I really ever needed was my brain to sort through things in life. In the recent weeks I have started to realize that getting what is in my brain out has helped so tremendously. Whether it be writing it down or talking it through, it all helps.
I think that this has helped me start to organize my life and get rid of a lot of negativity (because I always THOUGHT I knew how best to handle situations, but trust me I didn’t).
Love this article. So many different traps that people tend to fall into. I identify with all of these and have definitely begun to make the most of these positive changes in the last year. Especially the last one! Yes it is true that you ARE a soul and you HAVE a body, but that body is your home and you need to keep it healthy and well in order to keep your soul living authentically!
And number 2: It’s all about going easy on yourself!
Joann Henderson says
The choices I have been making to make myself unhappy are looking out for everyone but myself, and loving a man that I know does not love me. One day he shows love and the next day he forgets everything he told me. Today I will let him be and find me again.
Guilty of all seven, especially #4.
[email protected] Finger Project says
Brilliant article. I really needed to read this. It’s so true, particularly about ignoring your body’s needs. Your body and mind work in tandem, if you neglect your body, how can you expect your mind to function properly and do what you want it to do?
Number 3 rings a bell. People think resilience is a great trait but it can be a trap. When you keep going and going and forcing and forcing when there are signs to warn you, it’s not great.
Melissa Webster says
“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.”
This is so funny and uncannily perfect timing. Like Jamie said about it being a positive sign, I’d just made the decision last night to choose differently and start over, in a way I never thought I’d ever, ever, EVER do. But the solution clicked out of nowhere and felt completely right, and then this post showed up and reinforced it.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of changes, so I’m giving myself a week or so to make sure it’s right and not impulsive. But my gut is already telling me it’s where I’m headed.
Thanks for the great post!
The great escape says
I just made a major change in my life. Got rid of my negative girlfriend it was the hardest thing for me to do. I dealt with her for 2 years this way. I was on fricking roller coaster. I still feel like I’m on it but its not so bad anymore… it gets better everyday. I like what you post and I read it everyday. Thanks.
I’m so guilty of procrastinating. I like to make healthy meal ahead of time, just so I don’t have to move my lazy behind to cook.
I would be tempted to put sawdust in my meatloaf if it’d save me a few minutes, probably would increase the fiber content.
As far as impossible standards, typical is the new years resolution: I’m going to climb Mt Everest, lose 200 pounds and cures cancer… By next week.
Too much too soon = burn out
I have been guilty of all, but #7 the most.
Marc Chernoff says
@Amy: Lend a listening ear, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Be honest and let the person vent, but be clear that you will not tolerate needless negativity. Also, balance your time. If you must be around this person’s negativity, be sure you spend enough time around positive people too. Hope this gives you something to think about.
@Victoria: Long distances can wear on close relationships. My suggestion, if you haven’t already, would be to attempt to connect more over the phone or via Skype. Make it a point to do so at least once a week if possible.
@Connie: We really do take our bodies for granted, don’t we? I’m glad to hear you’re back on your feet and enjoying the gym. Your story reminds me of when I was in car accident years ago and couldn’t do much of anything while I was recovering. But once I did recover, I have appreciated the health of my body every single day.
@Andrew: I feel ya. Number one used to be one of my biggest struggles. Congrats on finally figuring out a way to get it all out of your head.
@Joann Henderson: Looking out for yourself is imperative. Helping others is wonderful, just be sure you aren’t losing yourself in the process.
@All: Thanks for the added insight. I actually just jotted down two new blog post ideas based on the comments you left in this post. Stand by. 🙂
I have learned a lot from this post! Lots to think about now. Thanks.
Thanks. I always feel better after reading your articles. 🙂
Thank you Marc and Angel again for everything you share. As for me – I miss the love from my love and this makes me really sad. That’s why I am often here, my heart is broken.
Sometimes we fail to focus on the progress than the goal that will keep us going. Motivation does not keep us moving but progress does.
This post really made me realize that I need to accept the truth and get on track to bettering myself.
This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I have been struggling and these simple recommendations make perfect sense. We all need to spend more time focusing on happy things and letting go of negativity.
Mary Jane Allen says
Great article! I laughed when I read #2. 🙂 My energy realm of training is the 3rd chakra – relating to perfectionism and trying to achieve balance in life! Oh, yes, I am working on this! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world!
Blessings to you,
Cath Murdoch says
In The End,
What Matters Most is
How Well Did You Live,
How Well Did You Love,
How Well Did You Learn
To Let Go