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The Habits That Block Our Path to Happiness

The Habits That Block Our Path to Happiness
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The law of attraction is universally known. By now we are all aware of how negative attitudes and behaviors can block us from finding happiness. Despite this, there are some habits that most people can’t seem to shake off, and these are the ones that stop us from finding true happiness.

1. Others vs. Me

Some people focus too much on others. They keep talking about what “they” have and what “they” did. Often, they feel jealous of other people’s achievements, but never dare to step up and take initiative themselves. They fear not being as “good” or “successful” as the other person.

This is a negative attitude.

Don’t think others find happiness and success because they are better than you. Let their stories inspire you instead.

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Standford University psychologist Carol Dweck calls it the “Fixed vs Growth” mindset.

The “Fixed” mindset is the person that remains convinced that their life and mindset will never change while the “Growth” mindset expands its horizons and dares to take chances. Everyone can go from fixed to growth the moment you allow yourself to take a chance and move outside your comfort zone.

2. To Don’t Instead of to Do

Surprisingly it has been found that a “To Do” list actually halts your productivity. Instead of a gentle reminder it has been found to be a source of pressure. A lot of people feel anxious when looking at their list halfway through the day and can only tick of one or two finished tasks.

The failure often either causes them to give up on the list all together or try to get everything done quickly — neither of which brings you happiness.

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Stop making those lists. Instead, write down two things you really want to get done before going to bed and focus on those two only. If you do this every day you’ll find that within a month all your projects are running along smoothly.

3. Worry About Others

Many people keep worrying about what others think of them. They never realize that more often than not, people don’t think about them at all. This is caused by “projecting self doubt”: making it seem as if others are negative about you, without realizing that all the negativity comes from you. This is a very difficult one to let go of, but it is possible.

The best way to do it is by positive affirmations.

Instead of “Oh no, he’s not mailing back, he doesn’t like me!”
Think: “Well, he has a busy job, maybe he’ll see my mail later.”

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If there is no reply after a reasonable time, ask. If you feel self-conscious doing that, you can use this excuse: “My mail isn’t working properly lately. Did you get my last e-mail?” Usually there is a perfectly normal reason for the lack of reply, and you’ve been stressing over nothing.

4. Everything Changes NOW!

Don’t do that: never start all the important changes at once. Take everything one step at a time. If people change their lives in one big go, they often expect the entire world to change along with it. When it doesn’t, there is disappointment and they fall back in their old (bad) habits.

Try to make a change every week or month. Begin with something you are certain to keep up and keep adding to your challenge until you are where you want to be.

5. Waiting For “The” Moment

The perfect moment does not exist: we create it. There are no signs that tell us “now.” If we want to do something, or feel we can contribute something, we have to get it going ourselves. Start it up, get people around you to help you along, and get it of the ground. If you don’t do it when the idea forms, either it will never happen or someone else does it and you lose out.

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6. Forget About “Monday”

A lot of people think: “Well, I failed to start my plan on Monday, I’ll just wait till next week.”

No. Monday is just “a day” a concept created to keep track of time. If you fail on Monday, make it Tuesday or Wednesday. Every day is the right day to start on finding “the new and happy me.”

Featured photo credit: Wayne Dery jr via unsplash.com

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Dannii Cohen

PsyD in Psychology, professional counsellor, life coach and self-help expert

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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