Are your habits and routines sucking up your happiness?
Oftentimes we unknowingly hold on to little, obsessive habits that cause us a great deal of stress and unhappiness. Even when we feel that something is wrong, we fail to seek the changes we need to make and instead cling to what’s not working, simply because it’s what we’re accustomed to.
It’s time to make a change. It’s time to give up the habits that no longer serve your well-being and embrace the positive changes you need to be happy.
Today is the perfect day to give up…
1. Worrying about… everything.
Worry is the biggest happiness slayer ever. Worry steals all of your attention and gives the illusion that you are working through a problem when you are not. As Van Wilder said, “Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
People worry for all sorts of reasons: to escape reality, fear of the unknown, resistance to change, lack of confidence, etc.
Stopping worry, like everything else takes practice; the more you do it, the better you will become at discerning when you are no longer controlling your thoughts and they are controlling you.
Tip: To jolt yourself out of worry, ask yourself what you can do “right now” to make your life more pleasant and then do that!
2. Constant, deliberate, people-pleasing.
Contrary to what you may think, saying “yes” to every request that is made of you is not nice. First, it is not nice to you because it can leave you emotionally, mentally and physically drained. And second, it is not nice to the other person, because it deceives them into thinking that you have the time, energy and other resources available to make what they want happen, when you do not.
Generally people who carry out the duties of others at the expense of themselves have low self-esteem and high levels of unhappiness. They need the approval of others to make themselves feel worthy.
Tip: To combat people-pleasing behavior, learn to say “no.” Oftentimes when you say “no” to someone else, you are really saying “yes” to YOU.
Procrastination is stagnation. There is no other way to say it. When you procrastinate, nothing good in your life is happening.
We procrastinate for all sorts of reasons. When we are afraid of the outcome, we are unsure how to complete the task and when we just don’t feel like taking action.
And the thing is, we spend more time aggravating ourselves with worry about how long or how difficult the task is going to be rather than just doing it. More often than not, if you just start your task, you will be pleasantly surprised at how easily you are able to accomplish it.
Tip: When you feel yourself getting ready to procrastinate, silently say “stop” to yourself, refocus and begin again by taking calculated action that will lead to the results you desire. (Read Getting Things Done.)
4. Living in the past.
The past is gone for good and yet we spend so much time thinking about what happened yesterday, at the complete expense of today. Keeping your thoughts stuck in the past is especially detrimental to your contentment. You are a product of your environment. Your environment has helped to shape how you think and feel about yourself. Everyone has been presented with life challenges along their journey – you aren’t alone. It is whether you are stuck in the patterns of the past or have moved past them.
Tip: If you are harboring resentment, anger, frustration or other negative feelings from your past, don’t ignore these feelings. Do something constructive about it so that you can move into the present.
5. Always looking past the present moment in anticipation of the next.
We spend so much time in this moment, wanting to be in the next one, that we are missing our lives.
For example, while taking a shower, you might be thinking about that cup of coffee you want to make, and while you are drinking your coffee, you might be thinking about your commute to work. You are never consciously present right where you are and therefore cannot enjoy the moment you are in – the moment we call “life.”
Tip: Now is the only time you have. Now is life. Make sure you are fully experiencing it.
6. Judging others.
When you judge someone else, you suffer. It is an outward display of inward inferiority and anger. No one person is better than another. The individual who cleans the bathroom at a fast food restaurant is no less of a person than the CEO that uses it.
Tip: Understand that we are all part of the collective human race. We are one. Your joy is my joy and your suffering is my suffering. (Read Buddha’s Brain.)
7. Comparing your story to everyone else’s.
It is good to notice what others are doing from time to time. After all, that is what helps us outline what we want and don’t want in our own lives. But comparing yourself to everyone else every step of the way takes it too far. You know when this happens – when you stop living your dreams or start living theirs.
Tip: You are unique. No matter how hard you try to be like someone else, you will never be them, and you shouldn’t want to be.
Shame is a deep, debilitating emotion, with complex roots. Its cousins are guilt, humiliation, demoralization, degradation and remorse. After experiencing a traumatic event, whether recent or in the distant past, shame can haunt victims in a powerful and often unrecognized manner.
Shame impairs the healing and recovery process causing victims of trauma to stay frozen, unable to forgive themselves for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shame leaves victims with feelings of sadness and pain at the core of their being. They are unable to feel the fullness of joy in their lives.
If you feel any shame at all, acknowledge it upfront. Decide to experiment on forgiving yourself and letting go of the shame. How long can you go without reminding yourself about the shameful thoughts and feelings? How would life be different or better if you were able to forgive yourself? Who can you talk to about this?
Tip: The more you forgive yourself, the more time you have to focus your mind on happier times.
9. Disorganization and laziness.
We complain that there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish all that we want, yet our laziness often leads us to many wasteful hours of disorganization. The discipline it takes to sort through a messy desk, counter, closet or mind take time. Becoming organized is a habit. Start with something small, like your office desk or even making your bed after you get up.
Tip: Studies have shown that people who make their beds are statistically more productive, profitable and peaceful in their lives and careers. Interesting, isn’t it? But not surprising.
10. Fear of… everything.
Fear is one of the biggest reasons why we don’t move ahead in our lives. Fear of failing and fear of succeeding. Fear of the unknown. Fear of fear. As long as we are alive, we are prone to some level of fear. Ironically, to feel alive we must overcome that fear with action. As Bill Cosby once said, “Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.”
Tip: Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that your happiness and growth is more important than it. Do something every day that stretches your comfort zone and helps you face what your fear. (Read Daring Greatly.)
11. The need to be busy.
Busyness is often confused with productivity. They are two different things. Busy is running in place on a treadmill; productivity is actually getting somewhere worthwhile. These days technology gives us this constant feeling that there is so much to do and not enough time to do it. We are always connected to something that wants our attention, or something that could be done. This feeling creates stress. The more behind you think you are, the more stressed out you are going to feel.
Stress is not good for you. It makes it difficult to think, connect with others and it is associated with a plethora of physical ailments that lead to unhappiness.
Tip: Stop trying to be busy. Put first things first and give up the rest. Organization, meditation, improved time management and efficiency and a change in perception are all ways to manage stress. You must learn to let go. Release the excess. You were never able to do it all anyway.
What would you add to the list? What’s one obsessive habit or routine that has been making you unhappy? What can be done about it? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Photo by: Alex Proimos