Do you ever feel as though things just never sync up? The proverbial plan never comes together, no matter how hard you try to rearrange your thought processes and life. Do happiness and success just never seem to arrive?
No one ever wants to hear: “It’s not me, it’s you.” However, a lot people have mindsets that are preventing those pieces from falling neatly into place – and, it may very well not be their fault.
An unfortunate part of the zeitgeist and current culture is that we tend to accept certain ideas as the absolute truth. When we can’t achieve or find the things we want, it is easy to fall into a mindset that will keep us stuck on that hamster wheel. You know the ones I’m talking about: you need a career, a big house, a family, a car, a trillion dollars in debt, children – otherwise, you’re doing something wrong, right?
Different cultures world-wide will all have something to say about the way you should live your life to reach some semblance of balance and nirvana. But before you go off and share a wistful sigh with your coffee, check out these eight mindsets that prevent people from attaining success and happiness:
1. Superhero Syndrome
In short, you are all about saving, fixing, renovating and achieving the ideal in everyone- including yourself. A large part of this is about trying to find meaning and satisfaction by creating and fixing problems that are within your control- or, at least, ones you have convinced yourself are within your control. What you are actually doing is avoiding real problems and real progress.
2. Scrap-booking happiness
When you scrap-book, you take snippets and photos of your life and stick them in a big, empty book so you can look back on them and see what you’ve accomplished. You also tend to do that with your everyday life, as though you’re keeping score of successes. Continuously checking in with yourself to see if you are allowed to be happy is a sure way of convincing yourself that you’re not.
3. You convince yourself that anything to do with pain is a roadblock
Your gut is not exactly a psychic hotline, but it is the proverbial magic eight-ball built inside us all; unlike the eight-ball, however, a lot of us tend to ignore what it is telling us. A big issue comes from avoiding anything we associate with being ‘painful’ or ‘difficult’. Pain is not a pleasant thing, certainly, but that does not mean that it is always a roadblock to be avoided. Always going with what you think will make you happy is a good way to miss out on experiences that can lead you to success.
4. The reductionist approach to life
This is a mindset that many live with: “live small, stay in control”. Another way of thinking of this mindset is viewing it as the “settler” method: settling for a relationship where you are under-valued, settling for a job where you are treated poorly, and never taking a chance on your life or on new experiences. This mindset comes from self-esteem issues, typically, but it is also a way in which people stay in control of their lives. Sometimes, it is good thing to not be fully in control.
5. Checking boxes
A lot of us know this one, and, unfortunately, succumb to it. This is the checklist that society often hands us with a footnote that reads “you will be happy when all these boxes are checked”. A home with a mortgage, two cars, a marriage, a family, and a career. Living a life that makes you happy outside of that checklist seems bizarre, even sinful to some – but it is your life. You’re the one who ultimately decides how your story is told.
6. Never examining your opinions or beliefs again
You’ve found a mindset and it’s going to stick for life, right? “This group is wrong”, “this political party is full of idiots”, “this is how I feel about: [insert everything that makes you angry]”. Alright, fair enough, but what happens when you won’t allow yourself to try out different perspectives? Your opinions and views stagnate, there is no growth and then every event that ever happens is viewed in terms of who is to blame- rather than as an opportunity to gain perspective and learn.
7. Getting angry at qualities you see in others (that reflect your own)
Ever get really angry at a person for being a downer? Or a gossip? A mindset like this stops us from evaluating “Why am I so angry and hateful toward this person/this quality?” Self-examination can be a difficult and agonizing process, but it allows for growth and insight. This process allows us to work on that issue, instead of ignoring it.
8. Denying reality
This one is one a lot of people are guilty of: ‘I can handle this by myself’, ‘I’m happy with things as they are’, ‘I’ve got to achieve more to be happy’, etc. This ties in with the reductionist approach and it is also counter-intuitive. What if you do handle everything yourself? You might feel proud but you might also experience being burnt out. If you achieve more, what happens when you find you aren’t really happy? Our search for happiness is often hindered by our inability to realize the truth. Being honest with yourself is another frightening prospect, but one that opens you up to happiness and success.
Do any of these sound familiar? I am sure many reading this article came here for answers, perhaps even inspiration. Be honest with yourself, take time to be introspective and to measure how much you are capable of, instead of all the things that you think are holding you back.
Featured photo credit: monroesdragonfly via flickr.com