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Dismissing Sadness Will End up Making You Sadder

Dismissing Sadness Will End up Making You Sadder

No one wants to be unhappy. We can mostly accept this as an universal truth. We often actively seek to avoid unhappiness even though it does come for all of us: breakups, school failings, disappointments in personal relationships, frustrations at work.

In the last 5-10 years especially, there’s been an increasing amount of discussion about happiness, the importance of happiness, how to seek happiness, where to locate happiness, and anything else you can think of. The self-help industry is massive — about $11 billion in the U.S. alone.[1] When Disney modernized their theme parks a few years ago, they even called the project “reinventing happiness.”[2] It’s on many minds, and you can find the topic in dozens of TED Talks.

This approach is problematic.

As writer Emily Esfahani Smith has pointed out in a TED Talk, the focus should be less on happiness and more on finding some degree of meaning in your life. Meaning is a mix of purpose and behaviors with intent; it’s akin to finding your passion and yourself.

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One of the problems with this whole discussion is the interplay between sadness and happiness. In a world without sadness, there can’t be happiness either. It’s just a straight line of emotion. How would you even know you’re happy if you’ve never experienced being sad?

Happiness is relative. Think about it in terms of peaks:

    Why is this a peak? Only because of a difference in height between this and everything around. Flat ground isn’t a peak, correct?

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    Happiness and sadness work the same way. Without one, the other can’t be defined.

    When you avoid sadness, then, you reduce happiness in your life too. Life is ultimately about experiencing different aspects and locations. Avoiding sadness often means avoiding experiences. As you avoid sadness, you paradoxically also avoid happiness — and you drown your thinking in things that may not actually happen.

    A better approach is to think about life this way…

      Perfection is essentially unattainable, as is any form of “truly perfect happiness.”

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      This entire concept is called “The Progress Principle“. Celebrating small wins helps you create your own system of instant gratification. Your brain needs to feel happy. And it needs to feel happy often. By looking at life as a journey instead of a short-term goal, you start to see the bigger picture and see the ups and downs as part of the progress.

      Ups and downs are part of the journey

      No one has a perfect life. Everyone has their own challenges and problems.

      When you feel negative, you’re focusing on the current level while the peak level is yet to come. You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.

      Monitor your emotions and rack up small wins along the way

      When you reach a disappointment in life, it’s likely you only see it as a big fluctuation. But in the long-run, it’s a small dip on an upward-trending pathway.

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      Be aware of your everyday emotions, you will realize that you’re happier on some days and sadder on others. A bad day happens only occasionally. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment right now, flash back your memory to when you feel happier. This memory keeps you going during your down times.

      Getting started with the Progress Principle

      You can start by tracking your emotions. This will increase self-awareness. Find out more about how to do it here: The Magic of Marking down Your Mood Every Day

      You can also write down your achievements every day, or do a “3-1” model where you write down 3 positive things and 1 constructively negative thing. At the end of a week, you have 21 positives and 7 things to work on. It gives you a good baseline for next week’s progress.

      If you want to stay motivated despite occasional down times, read How to Stay Motivated Even Though You Can’t See Yourself Moving Forward

      Featured photo credit: Alphacolor 13 on Unsplash via decaf.kouhi.me

      Reference

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      Brian Lee

      Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

      100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

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      Last Updated on May 21, 2019

      Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

      Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

      People who have low self esteem are always hard on themselves. Sometimes they even cannot truly accept compliments because they would second guess people’s intentions.

        In this article, we’ll look into the symptoms of a low esteem person and what you can do if you find yourself having self-esteem issues.

        Symptoms of a Low Self-Esteem Person

        Common Symptoms

        • Unable to trust your own opinion
        • Always overthinking
        • Afraid to take challenges, being worried you wouldn’t overcome them
        • Hard on yourself but lenient with others
        • Frequent anxiety and emotional turmoil

        Lesser-Known Symptoms

        Being a workaholic

        At work expectations are set clearly. Even if there’s pressure in the workplace, compared to relationships or the social world where so much is unknown and uncontrollable, work is more straightforward.

        It’s easier to meet the expectations and perform well at work. Therefore, some people with low self-esteem would shift their focus to work and put all their energies there.

        Overachieving or underachieving

        Many of us have already heard that people with low self-esteem tend to be under-achievers as they’re too afraid to take new challenges and not confident enough to fully utilize their talents.

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        However, there’s another extreme. Some of them are too anxious of failure and being rejected, so they will try their very best to be outstanding to prove their worth.

        Causes of Low Self-Esteem

        Most of the time it stems from our childhood. Here’re some negative early experiences that lead to low self-esteem:[1]

        • Frequent punishment
        • Frequent neglect
        • Chronic abuse
        • Harsh parental standards
        • Being bullied/boycotted
        • Being on the receiving end of someone else’s stress or despair
        • Lack of praise, warmth and affection
        • Staying in a family or group where other members are prejudiced towards

        Childhood is when we form our “Bottom Line” and “Rules for Living” which affects the way we think, that’s why all the negative early experiences can have a very long-lasting effect on our adulthood.

        How “Bottom Line” Affects Your Self-Esteem

        “Bottom Line” is how you usually feel about something, based on your early experience. For example, “how you felt when you first left home becomes the emotional bottom line for when you leave other things in your life.”, according to therapist Robert Taibbi [2].

        When we talk about self-esteem, the bottom line is about how people around you treat you, as we grow up taking the voices of people who are significant to us. Did they say you’re adorable, or you’re always not good enough? Did they neglect you that made you feel worthless?

        That largely affects the way you view yourself and hence affect your self-esteem.

        How “Bottom Line” Determines Your “Rules for Living

        Based on the “Bottom Line”, we would form our “Rules for Living”, which are the strategies for dealing with life. For example, if you have the belief that you are always inferior to others, your Rules for Living would be “better not to speak up and to keep a low profile”.

        How Low Self-Esteem Affects Every Aspect of Your Life

        So what are the consequences of having low self-esteem?

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        It Makes You Confuse Love with Low Self-Esteem

        Having a low self-esteem, you expect people to treat you badly.

        When people are being just quite nice to you, you feel overjoyed and have unrealistically good feelings for them. This can be easily mistaken as love and also scare people away who might be just interested in being friends with you (at first).

        It Makes You Have a Lower Hand in the Relationship

        As you think your partner is too good for you, you bear things that you shouldn’t stand for.

        Sometimes you even confuse love with self-esteem. Are you giving in really because you love him/her so much or you just dare not to speak up and bargain?

        It Makes Your Employers Feel That You’re Not Talented

        People with low esteem sometimes are actually gifted. But they don’t know how to show it and “sell” themselves.

        During meeting, they keep quiet, during presentation they speak weakly, during daily conversation they say “sorry” and “maybe” too often…As a result, employers and other colleagues perceive people with low esteem as people without much talents.

        It Can Lead to Depression

        Over time, low self-esteem can lead to depression according to a study done by University of Basel researchers.[3] Psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen added that low self-esteem is “a key factor in both the development and maintenance of depression”.

        How to Improve Self-Esteem

        As we can see, low self-esteem is a deeply rooted issue and leads to lots of consequences. To solve it, it’s not an easy task, but it’s possible. The key is, to use the right ways.

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        1. Ignore All Those “Positivity” Advice

        Very often, we hear people say “Stay positive”, “Hey cheer up!”. People with depression know all these do not help. It just makes them feel worse.

        Same for low self-esteem, simply telling people “To me you’re wonderful!”, “You’re actually awesome”, “Why don’t you appreciate yourself more?”, or even worse “Hey you should be more confident” does not improve their self-esteem. Instead, they would feel inadequate or even guilty of their behavior.

        2. Focus Elsewhere

        “Healthy self esteem needs to emerge subtly.”[4]

        Same as happiness, you don’t immediately feel happier when you tell yourself to be happier. You need some concrete ways to do so like pursuing a goal that truly matters to you, like spending quality time with your loved ones.

        When you want to improve your self-esteem, don’t try too hard on thinking of ways to do so. There’s no direct way to improve it. It should be a by-product of our overall life’s satisfaction.

        According to psychologist Abraham Maslow,[5] to live a fulfilling life, you should take care the 5 levels of human basic needs. To help you understand more about this psychological model we made a video to explain it:

        Or you can refer to the graph below:

        5 Levels of Human Basic Needs

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          To focus elsewhere, we’ve summarized the above items and put them into this list for you:

          • Deep connection with loved ones
          • A healthy body
          • Sense of control
          • A meaningful life purpose
          • Recognition and respect from others
          • Sense of security
          • Creativity

          As you gradually equip yourself with the skills to fulfil the above needs, you’ll forget about self-esteem and suddenly you’ll find that you just feel proud of yourself when you know so much that others don’t.

          Resources to Help Increase Your Self Esteem

          To help you gradually build your self-esteem, here’s a list of the best self-help books that can help you fulfil the goals:

          1. How to Win Friends & Influence People
          2. Outliers: The Story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell
          3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
          4. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
          5. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
          6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Busines
          7. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
          8. Thinking, Fast and Slow
          9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
          10. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

          The Bottom Line

          If you find yourself having low self-esteem, don’t be hopeless. Have faith in yourself that you can regain self-esteem and become a confident and successful person.

          How?

          Understand the root causes of your low self-esteem and overcome these causes with the advice in this article.

          Featured photo credit: Joe Gardner via unsplash.com

          Reference

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