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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

Why Is Life So Complicated For You? 5 Reasons Why

Why Is Life So Complicated For You? 5 Reasons Why
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“Being simple is the most complicated thing nowadays.” -Ramana Pemmaraju

We live in a world where constant change and disruption is a given.

Our lives were suddenly turned upside down by a world pandemic. We had no control, and our power of choice was taken away from us. To survive we had to accept and obey the laws set by the government to eliminate a virus that could potentially destroy our society as we know it.

I found it difficult to adjust to living a life with no social contact apart from those living in my bubble. I quickly realised that to get through living with COVID-19 regulations and rules, I had to keep my life as uncomplicated as possible. The more complicated I made my life, the more frenetic, anxious and fearful I became. This was not an easy task, and every day I had to work on overcoming the biggest obstacle ever: my mind.

So, if you are feeling that your life is complicated, here are 5 reasons why this is happening to you. The good news is that if you address these 5 obstacles, you will have a much better chance of living an uncomplicated life.

1. Focusing on the Complexity of Life

If you were to ask Confucius if life is complicated, his reply would be, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

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The most difficult and anxiety-creating activity I found during Level 4 lockdown was doing the weekly shop. Adjusting to a new way of shopping where you had to stand in long queues to get into the grocery store while still maintaining a 2-meter gap outside and inside the store was exhausting.

One person per household was allowed to go to the grocery store, and that task was allocated to me. I began to dread the weekly trip, and I had to work really hard to manage my anxiety. I soon realized that if I continued to believe that this shopping exercise was complicated and challenging, then guess what? It would be.

It’s easy to see something as complicated when it forces us to shift our lives in some major way, but it’s often useful to first work on seeing this change in a more positive or simpler light. What will this change teach you? Can you incorporate it into your routine without too much upheaval? Do your best to make it as straightforward as possible.

The Complexity Bias

The complexity bias is a reason why we humans lean towards complicating our lives rather than keeping things simple. When we are faced with too much information or we are in a state of confusion about something, we will naturally focus on the complexity of the issue rather than look for a simple solution. In a recent article, the author explains, when “we succumb to complexity bias, we are focusing too hard on the tricky 10% and ignoring the easy 90%.”[1]

When you are dealing with a situation that you feel is complicated and overwhelming, try to focus on coming up with solutions or strategies that are simple. Ask yourself this question: If I take the simple, straightforward approach what will be the outcome? More confusion or perhaps a solution? I think you know what the answer would be!

2. Being Constantly Worrying

As humans, we are emotional beings. When we are stressed, angry, frustrated, or unhappy, our thoughts and emotions can have a significant influence on how we react and behave.

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Constantly worrying about your problems and what lies ahead in the future can drain your energy and cause physical and emotional distress in your life. The more you worry, the more complicated your life seems.

Looking for a silver lining or the best option in a bad situation does not come naturally to us. It takes work and continuous effort to navigate our way around the challenges and curveballs that life throws at you.

Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help you calm your worried mind and ease anxiety. Try the following to see what works for you[2]:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Cardio exercises
  • Journaling
  • Yoga
  • Listening to music
  • Talking to friends

3. Trying to Control Everything in Life

We live in a complex world, and it can be very hard to find the answers to the challenges we face in our lives. We are all afraid of something, whether it is fear of failing, dying, or losing a loved one. Striving to have control over one’s life is an attempt to bury your fears so that you don’t have to face them.

If you are making decisions about your life from a place of control, then you need to stop. Striving to have control in your life is a sign that you are living your life in fear. You need to break free of your fears and learn to accept that there are things in life that are outside of your control.

Once you accept that life is all about your navigating your way through it rather than controlling it, you will find that your outlook on life will be more positive and not so complicated.

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“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.” -Charles R. Swindoll.

4. Basing Your Happiness on Others’ Happiness

Your life will always be complicated and difficult if you hinge your happiness on other people in your life. Your happiness does not come from others, it comes from within you.

If you rely on another person’s happiness to live life, over time the complications of life will overwhelm you and you will lose your sense of self. You will find that you will be constantly trying to please others and trying to keep them happy — this is exhausting and detrimental to your wellbeing.

You need to take a breath, look inward, and then make a choice. Do you want to live a life valuing and believing in yourself the way you deserve, or do you want to live your life based on the happiness of others? I know what I would choose.

5. Feeding Into the Drama of Life

By feeding into other peoples’ drama, you are making your life more complicated than it needs to be. Drama and having toxic people in your life is a recipe for living an emotionally exhausting and complicated life.

There are certain types of people who live their life through drama and catastrophe. They choose to respond to life’s challenges in a way that is not productive. Stay away from them. If they do come to you with their drama, take a breathe and give yourself some time to work out how best to manage the situation without falling into the trap of taking on board their negative energy.

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It won’t happen overnight, but the more you work on your self-acceptance and self-belief, the more courageous and confident you will be. With this courage, you will be able to step up and eliminate negative drama from your life. Once you have done this, your life will be less complicated and so much easier for you to navigate your way through life’s challenges.

Final Thoughts

“If you accept life in all its fullness and ambiguity, it’s not complicated; it’s only complicated if you don’t accept it.” -Marty Rubin

You will always have challenging times in your life, and the more complicated you make it, the more difficult your life will be.

The more you focus on quieting the voices in your mind, keeping calm, and listening to yourself breathe, the less complicated your life will be. This is a very simple recipe to living a fulfilled life.

More Tips on Living a Simpler Life

Featured photo credit: Nick Karvounis via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

How to Stop Being Sad and Start Feeling Happy How to Persevere (and Get Ahead) When the Going Gets Tough How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You 7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever

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Published on June 11, 2021

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It
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Well-being is a term often utilized in psychology literature to describe healthy individuals. It is often associated with contentment, happiness, or fulfillment. However, there is debate about what well-being really is and even how to spell it.[1] With so much confusion around the definition, individuals are often left to wonder what well-being is and how to achieve it.

This article will unlock the answers to three questions:

  • What is well-being?
  • How is it measured?
  • How is it improved?

What Is Well-Being?

Well-being includes a combination of feeling states and lifestyle factors. Feeling states associated with it may include happiness and contentment. Lifestyle factors may include feelings of fulfillment, achieving one’s potential, having some control in life, and engaging in meaningful relationships. Well-being is also associated with positive mental health.[2] In simpler terms, It is a construct used to describe many facets of life including psychological, physical, and social health. Synonyms for it include happiness, health, positive feelings, welfare, and wellness.[3]

It may also be defined as a state of balance or homeostasis. This balance is achieved by having enough resources to cope with life’s challenges.[4] Both challenges and resources may be prevalent in three areas: physical, psychological, and social.

When there is an abundance of challenges and inadequate resources, well-being is lost. However, humans are designed to work towards achieving a state of balance. Well-being is linked to interpersonal, professional, and personal success. It often results in greater productivity at work, increased learning and creativity, prosocial behavior, and fulfilling relationships.[5]

Why is well-being difficult to define? Likely because it encompasses a variety of life experiences and feeling states that may vary among individuals. To help individuals assess themselves, several measures have been created.

How Is Well-Being Measured?

Researchers need to agree on a standardized definition of well-being to accurately measure it. An adequate measure must therefore encompass every facet of well-being, including as a feeling state as well as a lifestyle. In other words, an effective measurement takes both life satisfaction and functioning into account.

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Well-being can be broken down further into two categories: objective and subjective.

Objective Well-Being

Objective well-being looks at standards of living. This is useful for research looking at cultures, countries, or groups of people. It includes measuring education, income, safety, and life expectancy.[6]

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United National Development Programme, and the Italian Statistics Bureau have identified six areas for study related to objective well-being:

  1. Health
  2. Job opportunities
  3. Socioeconomic development
  4. Politics
  5. Safety
  6. Environment

Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being includes an emotional and mental assessment of an individual’s life. Two prominent subjective measures are life satisfaction and happiness. Measuring subjective well-being is useful for predicting mental health patterns.[7] It is determined intrinsically by the individual. Regardless of how their life might be perceived by others on the outside, this measures how individuals feel on the inside.

Subjective well-being can be broken down further into two categories: hedonic and contentment. The hedonic component relates to feelings, emotions, and moods. The contentment component relates to thoughts and whether an individual feels their life has been fulfilling. Individuals often measure their thoughts and life fulfillment against social and cultural backgrounds.

In other words, it is important to consider the context in which an individual lives. Individuals may perceive their lives differently based on social and cultural expectations. Furthermore, individuals cannot be measured without taking their environment into consideration.

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development determined subjective well-being to be an important factor in assessing well-being. Because it is perceived by the individual, it is often assessed by self-report measures. In other words, individuals rate their own level of well-being through psychological tests.[8]

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There are five areas associated with subjective well-being:

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Basic and psychological needs
  3. Social environment
  4. Economics and income
  5. Political environment

How to Improve Well-Being

There are many ways that individuals can improve their sense of well-being. It is a complex construct with a variety of factors at play. Therefore, there is no one, perfect solution for it. Instead, the goal should be to engage in a holistic approach the incorporates a variety of factors.

The following methods are not comprehensive. What works well for one individual may not be the right approach for others. Instead, these approaches should be considered suggestions for improving well-being.

Individuals looking for a truly comprehensive assessment of well-being should consider scheduling an appointment with a psychologist, therapist, or medical doctor. These individuals may also provide resources, prescribe medication, or share tips for making lifestyle changes to assist in overall improvement.

1. Spend Time in Nature

There is evidence to support the claim that interactions with nature increase well-being. This includes an increase in positive emotions, happiness, and subjective well-being. Time spent in nature is also linked with an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as the ability to manage challenges in life.[9]

One study found that spending at least 120 minutes in nature each week was associated with greater health. In the study, it did not matter if that time was spent all at once or stretched out over the course of a week. Peak gains in well-being occurred between 200 and 300 minutes of nature time, weekly.[10]

2. Practice Gratitude

Individuals who experience gratitude as a trait experience increased well-being. Trait gratitude refers to the willingness to see the unearned value in one’s experience. State gratitude is a feeling that occurs after individuals experience an act of kindness and, therefore, feel motivated to reciprocate.

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One study assessed state gratitude, during Covid-19 in China. Individuals were instructed to journal while practicing gratitude for 14-days, which included a one-month follow-up. The study found that gratitude practiced in a natural setting during times of increased stress and anxiety resulted in increased positive feelings and increased life satisfaction. However, increased life satisfaction was not sustained after one month.[11]

As a result of the aforementioned study, there is evidence to support a daily practice of journaling and gratitude for increased well-being. Individuals should practice both trait and state gratitude, whenever possible. Over time, these practices will become a habit and lead to lasting improvement.

3. Develop Increased Awareness

Increased awareness is associated with improvements in positive subjective experience, increased self-regulation and goal-directed behavior, and successful interactions with others.

Increased awareness can be attained through meta-awareness. Meta-awareness is the ability to consciously notice an emotion, thought, or sensory experience. It is a skill that can be taught. Mindfulness-based meditation and psychotherapy are two ways in which meta-awareness is learned. Kindness and compassion meditations are both linked with improved well-being. Both Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may help increase awareness.[12]

4. Achieve Work-Life Balance

An individual’s workplace has the potential to either help or harm them. Workplace factors that negatively impact well-being include:

  • Work-related pressure or demands
  • Lack of autonomy or flexibility
  • Poor coworker and supervisor relationships
  • Shift work
  • Longer workday length

Employers can directly improve their workers’ well-being by providing paid leave, opportunities for salary growth, support for individuals with disabilities or those returning after injury, and access to health care. Improvements in the work environment and job structure may also be helpful.[13]

Worker well-being is beneficial both for workers and their employers. It is associated with improvements in:

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  • Performance at work
  • Coping with stress and self-regulation
  • Satisfying relationships, prosocial communication, and cooperation
  • Immune system functioning
  • And physical and psychological health

Workplace well-being is also associated with a decrease in burnout, stress, and sleep-related issues.[14]

5. Seek Out Positive Relationships

Individuals with caring and positive connections often rank higher in well-being. On the flip side, poor social relationships can be more damaging than excessive drinking and smoking. Positive social relationships also help to protect against mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Prosocial behaviors are important for forming social connections that lead to increased well-being. Appreciation and gratitude are both pro-social traits. For example, focusing on the positive qualities and actions of others. Empathy for others also contributes to higher levels of well-being. Lastly, generosity is also a strong predictor of life satisfaction.[15]

6. Stay Hopeful

Hope is a concept often related to spiritual and religious traditions. However, it entered the world of psychology around the 20th century. It is now an important construct in positive psychology. Hope can be defined broadly as the belief that things can get better, and that goals are achievable.

Hope is associated with an increase in:

  • Emotional adjustment
  • Positive feelings
  • Life satisfaction and quality of life
  • Social support
  • A sense of purpose

Takeaways

Well-being is a construct that is hard to define, yet widely cited in psychological literature. It is linked with feelings of happiness and contentment. It might also be described as a sense of purpose or satisfaction with life.

To accurately measure it, there needs to be an agreed-upon definition. In general, it has been separated into objective and subjective categories. Objective well-being considers social and cultural constructs. Subjective well-being refers to the individual’s felt sense and internal assessment of their own.

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There are several things that individuals can do to improve their well-being. However, no one thing will improve everything. Rather, this requires a holistic practice of mental and physical health. Nevertheless, individuals who spend time in nature, develop positive connections, practice gratitude, stay hopeful, and develop awareness have a greater chance of experiencing better well-being.

More Tips For Your Well-Being

Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

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