If you can’t remember the last time you felt genuinely happy, say goodbye to these 10 habits

by Lucas Graham | June 19, 2024, 8:45 am

Happiness can be a complicated puzzle, but often, our habits prevent us from experiencing real contentment.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “old habits die hard.” Well, in this case, it’s about time they did.

What habits? The 10 we’ll cover today. 

If you really want to be happy, it’s time you said goodbye to them.

1) Overthinking

If there’s one habit that’s a surefire joy killer, it’s overthinking.

We’ve all been there – stuck in a loop of endless “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios. But the truth is, most of our worries never come to fruition. And while we’re busy fretting about what might happen, we’re missing out on the joy of the present moment.

It’s not easy to break the habit of overthinking, but it’s absolutely possible. And it starts with recognizing when you’re doing it.

The next time you find yourself in a spiral of negative thoughts, take a step back. Breathe. Remind yourself that worrying about tomorrow won’t change anything – but it can steal your happiness today.

2) Neglecting self-care

Here’s a personal confession: there was a time in my life when I put everything else before my own wellbeing. Work, family, social commitments – you name it. I thought I was doing the right thing, but in reality, I was neglecting myself.

And boy, did my happiness pay the price.

Self-care isn’t just about bubble baths and spa days – although they can be part of it if that’s what you enjoy. It’s about taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health. It’s about setting boundaries and saying no when you need to.

I learned the hard way that when you don’t take care of yourself, everything else suffers too. Your relationships, your productivity, and yes – your happiness.

So make time for self-care. It doesn’t have to be anything big or time-consuming. It can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to meditate or enjoy a cup of tea in silence.

Trust me, your future self will thank you for it.

3) Comparing yourself to others

Did you know, according to studies, frequent use of social media has been linked to elevated levels of anxiety, depression, and insomnia?

One major reason for this might be the comparison trap. We see the highlight reel of other people’s lives and compare it to our own behind-the-scenes.

But the truth is, everyone’s path in life is different, and comparing your journey with someone else’s can only lead to discontentment. Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone else’s success.

Instead of comparing your life with others, focus on your own progress. Celebrate your small victories and appreciate what you have. The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.

4) Holding onto grudges

Carrying a grudge is a heavy burden. It’s like carrying a backpack full of rocks up a hill – it just makes the journey harder and more tiring.

When you hold onto anger or resentment, you’re not hurting the person who wronged you; you’re hurting yourself. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.

Letting go of a grudge doesn’t mean forgetting what happened or saying it was okay. It means choosing to forgive for your own peace of mind.

So, if there’s a grudge you’ve been holding onto, consider letting it go. It might not be easy, but it will definitely lighten your load and allow happiness to find its way back to you.

5) Living in the past

We’ve all been guilty of this one.

Dwelling on past mistakes, reliving old hurts, or longing for days gone by – these habits can hold us hostage and keep us from experiencing the joy of the present moment.

The past, whether it’s filled with regrets or nostalgia, is a place of reference, not residence. We can learn from it, but we can’t live in it.

If you find yourself stuck in the past, try to gently guide your focus back to the present. What can you enjoy about today? What lessons have you learned from yesteryears that you can apply now?

Life is happening right here, right now. And the present moment is where happiness resides.

6) Ignoring your feelings

Our feelings are like compasses guiding us through life. Ignoring them is like trying to navigate without a map. You might think you’re protecting yourself from pain, but in reality, you’re just bottling up emotions that will eventually surface.

When we deny our feelings, we deny ourselves the opportunity to heal and grow. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or scared. These emotions are part of the human experience and there’s no shame in it.

Instead of suppressing your feelings, try acknowledging them. Give yourself permission to feel without judgment. You might be surprised at how much lighter you feel once you’ve allowed yourself to truly experience your emotions.

And remember, it’s okay not to be okay. Happiness isn’t about being joyful all the time; it’s about allowing yourself to feel all emotions and knowing that it’s okay.

7) Chasing perfection

I remember a time when I thought happiness was tied to perfection. If I just worked harder, earned more, and looked better, then I would be happy.

But the truth is, this pursuit of perfection only led to burnout, stress, and disappointment. Perfection is not only unattainable but also unnecessary. Life is messy and imperfect, and that’s what makes it beautiful.

What matters more is progress. Are you growing? Are you learning? Are you becoming a better version of yourself? If the answer is yes, then you’re on the right track.

8) Avoiding risk

It’s natural to want to stay in our comfort zones. They’re familiar, predictable, and, well, comfortable. But the thing is, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Avoiding risks might keep you safe from failure, but it also keeps you from growth and exciting opportunities. Taking risks, on the other hand, opens up a world of possibilities.

Now, I’m not advocating for reckless behavior. But calculated risks – those that push us to grow and learn – can lead to some of the most rewarding experiences.

Is there something you’ve been wanting to do but have been too afraid to try? Consider taking that leap. You might just surprise yourself and find a new source of happiness.

9) Focusing on the negative

It’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong in our lives. Challenges and struggles often take center stage while the good things quietly play in the background.

But when we focus solely on the negative, we miss out on the positive. It’s like wearing dark glasses – everything appears dimmer than it actually is.

One way to shift your focus is by practicing gratitude. It doesn’t erase the bad, but it brings the good into clearer view.

Try keeping a gratitude journal and jot down three things you’re grateful for each day. It could be as simple as a warm cup of coffee in the morning or a kind word from a friend.

Over time, you’ll start to see that there’s more good in your life than you might have realized, and this can lead to increased feelings of happiness.

10) Not allowing yourself to be happy

Sometimes, the biggest obstacle to our happiness is ourselves. We think we’ll be happy when we reach a certain point – when we get that promotion, when we lose those extra pounds, when we find our soulmate.

But the truth is, happiness is not a destination. It’s a journey. And it’s available to us right here, right now.

So give yourself permission to be happy. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they might seem. 

Final thoughts: Happiness is a choice

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that happiness is largely a choice.

Research by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, suggests that about 40% of our happiness is within our control. While our genes and life circumstances account for about 50% and 10%, respectively, the remaining portion is determined by our thoughts, actions, and mindset.

Saying goodbye to these 10 habits might be challenging. It might require self-reflection, persistence, and patience. But remember this – you have the power. You have the choice. Choose happiness.

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