There’s no magic formula to being happy – nor is happiness a permanent state of being (how boring would that be?). However, there are certain things that we all do that put a screeching halt to our happy mood. In my own life, I’ve managed to narrow these things down to five practises that have done me no favours – and when I’ve cut them out (or at least cut down on them drastically – I’m only human) I’ve found that I have a far sunnier outlook on life.
Interestingly they are all things that have made me feel fleetingly good or given me a rush only for them to get very draining very quickly. Here are…
Five things to stop doing NOW that are ruining your happiness
Nothing makes you feel bad faster than comparing yourself to others. I went through a stage where I’d put on a little weight. I was so self conscious about it that I found myself actively staring at other women to work out whether I was bigger, smaller or the same as them. When I started blogging, I was constantly checking out the competition and wishing I’d thought of things first, or that I had a style of writing like somebody else’s.
There’s absolutely no point in comparing yourself to others – they have had different experiences, circumstances and DNA – they are completely unique and so are you.
So what if what others do is wonderful? The reason it’s so amazing is that they’re the ones who did it and probably the only ones who could have done it so well – and the same goes for you. What you do is uniquely brilliant – you’re just too close to see it, so don’t worry about what everyone else is doing and focus on your own path.
Judging other people is fun at the time (sorry) but it’s also setting yourself up to feel like a massive hypocrite. I’m pretty sure that I’ve ended up doing most things I’ve judged people for at one point or another. And if I haven’t I’m sure one of my friends has, leaving me to shamelessly backtrack.
Judging someone else might give you a brief, false sense of superiority but you come crashing down pretty quickly when you have to awkwardly tell a friend, or yourself “well, obviously it’s totally different when you do it!”
And nine times out of ten, you’ll discover some previously unknown back story or circumstances that make you feel really awful for judging someone who’s struggling.
Bitching is like poisoning yourself. You know that awful, sickly feeling you get after reading a gossip magazine (maybe that’s just me)? Or that slightly nauseous stomach turn after you’ve had a long, indulgent bitch-fest with a friend? That’s not just guilt, that’s all the negativity you’ve just gorged on wanting to spew its way back up.
Every relationship I’ve ever had that’s been based on bitching and gossiping has very quickly fallen spectacularly to pieces – you know why? Because if you talk that way about everyone else, you’ll almost definitely do the same to each other – even if you don’t mean any harm. I had a close friend I absolutely adored, but our entire friendship was based on ringing each other up and sharing gossip and bitchiness. In the end, I think we were both exhausted by it and the friendship didn’t last.
I’m not saying nobody’s ever going to annoy you, or that you shouldn’t vent frustration, or that a very occasional bitch-fest isn’t fun, but if you find yourself repeatedly irritated by the same person or thing, don’t ring up a friend with angry stories about them every day – tune them out. Hide their updates on Facebook, phase out the contact with them and don’t use them as an excuse to get irritated or as fuel for the fire of a friendship that relies on negativity to survive. You’ll find yourself a lot less stressed than if you get addicted to following their every move in search of new gossip.
Beating yourself up
Everybody screws up at one point or another – the trick to how you feel about yourself is in how you deal with those mistakes.
There’s a big difference between taking ownership of your actions and learning from them and getting so fixated on them that you can’t move forward.
Beating yourself up comes from a place of shame – and as Oprah says (really) the only way to beat shame is to talk about it. If you’ve done something you’re not proud of, say it out loud, forgive yourself and move on. Apologise if you need to. You can’t change the past but you can certainly ruin your future by punishing yourself.
Blaming the world
I may write more extensively on the victim complex, but it’s such a powerful enemy I thought it needed mentioning here. Blaming the world for your problems takes away your sense of power over your life. I don’t mean that if something goes wrong it’s all your fault (see above about beating yourself up), I mean that if you give the world responsibility for your problems, you give everyone else the responsibility to fix it. That means you could be waiting a really long time to be happy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that others won’t do things to hurt you, or that circumstances won’t hold you back, but how long you hang on to that hurt, how long you let it dictate your future, those are all things that you can decide. That could be as simple as asking for help, visiting a doctor, letting go of the need for an apology, deciding that the moment you thought ruined your life doesn’t have to be the end for you after all.
If you’re not responsible for yourself, then there’s nothing you can do to change your life. In that sense, when you blame others for your woes, you’re giving away all of your power to help yourself and improve your life. It’s the perfect way to get stuck in unhappiness. Banish it now and watch your life transform!