6 Things Holding You Back From True Happiness

Written by Tom Casano

Photo by Stocksy

True happiness, at the core, is a by-product of your mindset. It is the result of an internal force rather than external factors. Dissatisfaction is a result of a toxic perspective, not undesirable circumstance. Let's dive into the six things that might be holding you back from your best life.

1. You haven't given yourself permission.

This is number one because it is by far the most likely thing holding you back. We fail to achieve happiness because we are not allowing ourselves to be happy. We put happiness on a pedestal and look at it as if it’s some grand, unachievable reward.

You don’t need a reason to be happy. You don't have to earn it. It’s there for the taking. If you don’t give yourself permission to be happy, no other strategy, technique, or list will ever work for you.

And yes, it’s that easy.

2. You're mired in regret.

Dwelling on the past is useless. What’s said was said and what’s done was done. You stumbled, you failed, and you missed opportunities. But as long as you’re still vertical, there’s a chance that you can move forward. You can make amends and learn from the mistakes you have made. Life is too short not to be in the present.

This moment is the only one you can control. If you choose to be happy right now, you’ll create a strong foundation for future happiness.

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3. You compare yourself to others.

Whether it’s Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, or your older sibling, comparing your accomplishments to theirs is destined to result in dissatisfaction.

While following in the footsteps of famously successful people might sound great, you might not find their life so dreamy after taking a magnifying glass to it. Success looks good on paper, but you won't find happiness in success unless you've arrived at it by following your purpose.

You have to identify your own priorities and pursue those. That's the only way you'll find true success and happiness. If you find out that your dream requires 15 years of 100-hour workweeks (Elon Musk), or following your sibling’s path of going to law school, then go get ‘em, tiger.

Just remember that you are unique, so your path to happiness will be, too. No one else's perception of success should determine your own.

4. You're forgetting to be grateful.

We've all heard people say, "You don't know what you have till it's gone." It's often true. But it doesn't have to be.

Take an inventory of your life:

  • Do you have a roof over your head?
  • Do you have clothes on your back?
  • Do you have food in your belly?
  • Are there people who care about you?
  • Are you reading this on your smartphone?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, remember it can be taken away from you in an instant. It’s the things that can't be bought that really result in happiness—whether it’s going out for beers with friends, eating Thanksgiving dinner with your family, or teaching your kid how to ride a bike. Be happy that you are able to experience these things because life doesn’t need your permission to take them away from you.

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5. You're being selfish.

Take note the next time you get something that makes you happy. Then take note the next time you unconditionally give something away that makes someone else happy. Notice how exceptionally different your level of happiness is. Humans make a positive connection giving back to each other. It’s everlasting and much more potent of an emotion.

This cycle of getting is toxic and will never lead to happiness: more money, more sex, more Twitter followers, more “stuff.”

True happiness is giving with no intention of receiving anything in return. You can give in any number of ways—money, compassion, your time, a round of drinks. It’s only when you put your focus on helping others that you really hit the jackpot. Remember, the world doesn’t care about you. It only cares what you can do for it. Once you realize this and begin to contribute, you’ll be on your way to fulfillment.

6. You're not listening to yourself.

There’s an inner voice that tells you to quit your job, break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend, or make amends with your father. But for whatever reason, you fail to listen to it. This voice knows exactly who you are and exactly what you want to be happy.

You just have to give yourself permission to listen to this voice. To trust yourself.

Be mindful of the things that are holding you back from happiness. Having this sense of awareness will help you uncover the behavior or thoughts that are holding you back from happiness. There are six items on this list. Start at the beginning, and find the stumbling blocks that apply to you. The first step is to acknowledge the obstacle. That's when you develop the capability of overcoming it.

Happiness is yours for the taking. If you can't find it, start by looking in the mirror.

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