Happiness is one of the great mysteries of life. We wonder what will make us happy and work for more of it, yet often get frustrated and discouraged. We have the best intentions, but often unknowingly get in our own way.
The first step to happiness is an awareness of where we block our own path. Here are eight obstacles you may be creating yourself and can easily change!
1. You have to be perfect (or at least try) to be happy.
There's a difference between striving for excellence and pursuing perfection. We believe being perfect can keep us safe from hurt, rejection, judgment and failure. Because the end goal of perfectionism is to get someone else's approval, you end up doing things and being someone that does not actually make you happy.
2. Engaging in habits that help you "check out" will make you happier.
There are a variety of things we say we do to relax and comfort us, but in reality, we use them to check out and avoid uncomfortable feelings. The obvious include overeating, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. But there are so many other "tools" we use to numb feelings including: overextending ourselves, hanging out in overwhelm, worrying, Internet surfing and overspending. These behaviors may be immediately gratifying but over time, leave you disappointed in yourself and prevent you from dealing with what is actually making you unhappy.
3. Hiding out from the world makes you feel better.
When we feel unhappy, often the tendency is to hide from the world and isolate. A little alone time is helpful but it's also overused and overrated. We feel happiest when we are connected to others. Going it alone may seem impressive but sharing our selves with those we can trust, helps us feel understood, accepted, loved and happier — especially when we feel down.
4. I'll be happy once I __________.
Happiness and a mindset of scarcity or lack cannot coexist. If you believe some part of yourself is not enough, you live as if it's true. The opportunities to find our selves insufficient are limitless and the trashy self-talk becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The truth is, we are enough when we are doing our best and are feeling proud of who we are.
5. If I feel too happy I'm just setting myself up for disappointment.
Experiencing happiness can be uncomfortable, scary and even a bit anxiety producing. Could feeling too joyful set us up to fail? You may even think that if you don't fully embrace happiness the bad stuff won't be as painful. Don't waste your joy! When hard times and challenges do come along, embracing your happy will make you stronger.
6. Your happiness depends on someone else.
Often, we make our happiness contingent upon another person or their actions. Doing so leaves you powerless and often feeling like a victim. Others can and do bring us joy but placing your happiness in the hands of someone else is a dangerous game. It also puts a tremendous amount of pressure on others. Taking responsibility for your own happiness can be uncomfortable but it gives you power and control over your life.
7. When life slows down I'll be happier.
This kind of thinking keeps you from being present. Time is your life going by. If you postpone feeling and engaging in things that make you happy, you are wasting precious time. Live as if every day is a gift and embrace what brings you happiness today, you'll have a much brighter future.
8. It's too late and too much has happened to be happy.
Our minds and bodies are incredibly resilient. It's never too late to recommit and find happiness. Living in the mindset of "it's too late" is a cop out. If you believe it's true then you don't have to even try. You get to stay stuck, unhappy and justified. If you change that belief and start taking actions, you will be amazed at how quickly you can turn things around.