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10 Things We Mistake for Happiness and How to Correct Them

10 Things We Mistake for Happiness and How to Correct Them

Happiness is one of the many things whose meaning can be different for one person from the next. What makes one happy may not exactly be what another person has in mind, and we take different routes to get our share of bliss. Some are fine with delayed gratification while others want happiness right away.

It’s perfectly all right to want happiness now, but to get there, we need to let go of some things or stop doing them altogether. While there are many ways to be happy, we tend to overlook the big picture and bury our toes in the warm sand that is temporary happiness. That part of us that settles is where we trade true happiness for greater joy. Below are ten things we sometimes confuse with happiness and ways to free ourselves from them.

1. A job you don’t like doing.

Sure, paying the bills and keeping a healthy savings account are valid reasons for why you should get a job, but it’s equally important that what you do for a living makes you happy. It’s simple: happiness at work makes you more productive, makes your coworkers and clients like you, and it helps you get closer to success.

Sometimes, however, the same job that you gave an arm and leg to snag becomes the thing you dread doing the next day. To be fair, it’s perfectly normal to grumble a bit about having to work over time all of a sudden, or being given a last-minute deadline on a Friday night, but if you can’t get through the day without whining about your job and still claim that you love it, it’s time to rethink your reasons for why you’re staying in that company. The security of having a job—any job—is not always synonymous to being happy with it.

On the other hand, just because you’ve been feeling downtrodden at work doesn’t always mean you should quit. Sometimes, all you need to do is to move things around. It can be changing your routine into something that will make you more efficient, or maybe a transfer to a different department where you’ll also fit. You can also consider taking a vacation. If none of these work, resort to exploring other career opportunities.

2. A relationship that isn’t working.

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, but this reason is prone to abuse simply because its truth makes it a convenient excuse. Most relationships, if not all, begins as if it’s the first day of Spring, where the flowers start to bloom and the days are always sunny. However, it is only when you subject it through all four seasons will you know if it can weather anything. Many couples are able to bend with the blows, then again, not all of them manage to make peace with with the hectic waves that comes with a relationship.

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The point is this: though people mature as individuals, there is a chance that this growth will not manifest in the relationship, and even if it does, there is no guarantee that you will enjoy the benefits together. At times, it is those changes that make us realize that we want someone else, not necessarily because what we have isn’t good (although there are times when that is the case), but simply because we need a partner that complements us better. It pays to assess your relationship once in a while, and to do everything you can to save it. But if the relationship is beyond salvation, you have to have enough guts to face the truth, and the integrity to save each other from more pain by calling it quits.

3. The latest in everything.

For the record, there is nothing wrong with being able to afford the latest smartphone, car, or that ridiculously-priced espresso machine, for there can be unparalleled joy in the experience brought to you by the world’s finest. The thing is sometimes we get a little too absorbed by our fear of missing out and believe that the best way to stay relevant is by having everything new behind glass display cases.

It still helps to ask ourselves if we truly need the things we want to blow money on, or if we just want to scratch a temporary itch. Regardless of where your money comes from, it’s important that you get optimal value from the things you pay for. It’s normal to want to buy things that tickle your fancy but if you don’t see yourself maximizing its utility, reconsider the purchase. However, if it does improve the quality of your life, then by all means put it in your cart.

4. Watching too much television.

4 watching too much television

    Television has gotten a lot of flak thanks to programs that capitalize on our insatiable need to be validated at all costs. To be fair, there a lot of good programs out there, ones that will rehydrate your interest in the arts and in science, or teach you how to cook a mean slab of rib eye.

    There are times, however, when we mindlessly flip through channels and indulge ourselves by watching shows without giving what we see and hear much thought. We rely a bit too much on shows to explain everything for us and take this as the ultimate truth. This prevents us from exercising discernment on whether what we’re watching makes sense and how much (or little) value it adds to our lives.

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    As powerful as TV is as a medium, being hooked on it can cause a dent on our imagination by blurring it. There is merit in assessing the kinds of shows we watch and in asking what benefit we’re getting from them. It’s human to find yourself envious of the lives led by people you see on TV but if it’s turning you into a bitter case of couch potato, perhaps it’s time to turn the box off.

    5. An obsession with perfection.

    One of the funny things about pursuing perfection is that no matter how many times we are told that nobody and nothing is perfect (except maybe Emma Watson), it doesn’t stop us from wanting to achieve it. This is a good trait to a degree, but if our fixation on wanting everything to be perfect gets in the way of actually accomplishing things, then we won’t really achieve anything.

    This is where practice comes in, but we also have to remember that the goal of practicing is not just the mastery of a process but also adjusting to changes that are required to attain perfection. Speaking of process, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right the first time. More often than not, it is the criticisms in our work that lead us to the next step to improvement.

    6. Complaining without acting.

    6 complaining without acting

      There is nothing essentially wrong with complaining, and it has its benefits too. It can be a way of pointing out the weaknesses in a system, and that they can be improved. The problem occurs when all people do is to complain as if they’re getting paid to do it.

      You see, complaining is one thing but doing something about it is a different story. The former is easier to do than the latter and a lot of people are comfortable with putting the spotlight on what is wrong in a system that they are a part of. The thing is if we don’t proactively become part of the solution, we just end up whining and annoying everyone else who is willing to listen to us. If you have the nerve to talk to others about what you think is wrong, it’s time to muster the courage to escalate it to more capable hands.

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      7. Putting up with friends who drag you down.

      For many of us, letting go of a friend is harder than breaking up with a significant other. This doesn’t mean that you have to put up with your friends bad habits though. It may be true that as friends, we should accept and love them for who they are, but there are cases where we have to choose between watching them harm themselves and pushing us off the cliff’s edge.

      For instance, some people can be a bit too clingy and make their friends feel bad when they can’t be there for them. However, being dependable is different from coddling. While we expect our buddies to be on our side, we can’t expect them to put their lives on hold every single time. Of course, it’s worthwhile to talk to our friends to iron out misunderstandings and to give them enough room to change, but if all else fails maybe it’s time to bail out on them one last time.

      8. Having too many friends on social media.

      Never has making friends and staying connected been easier until social media happened, but you got to admit that it’s not always the best way. It can be quite flattering to have a lot of followers in your social network until all you see on your dashboard is crazy narcissistic behavior put on display.

      Of course, social media isn’t bad per se. On the other hand, it can be an easy source of angst, frustration even. A lot of people have picked up the habit of posting everything that goes on with their life, and while it can be harmless to find out what your friend had for lunch two hours ago, not everyone is in the mood for fifty versions of a single selfie all the time. There are many other ways social media can drive people into their wits’ end, but the point is you don’t have to bear with them. Unfollow and Unfriend if you must and be ready with an honest explanation.

      9. Pursuing an interest to please someone else.

      Being invited by someone to join a project or to get into a new hobby can be good, especially if you want to become more interesting or you need the distraction, but if you’re only doing it to please someone else, you risk awkwardness and drama when the excitement wears off and you want out.

      To be fair, trying out new things even if you didn’t initially plan on it can turn out well. However, if you find yourself getting less interested by the session, you might want to consider quitting. Explaining it to the person who invited you may be hard, but you owe them your honesty, and you owe yourself the opportunity to pursue things that can really make you happy.

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      10. Making fun of other people.

      10 making fun of other people

        Sense of humor is one of the few things that will never go out of style, and it’s amazing to be funny and to have friends who can crack you up. Sometimes though, we become too comfortable with our funniness. We barely notice that we cross certain lines. The thing is we don’t realize this until someone calls it out or when we start losing friends one by one.

        The ability to make people laugh is a skill, and it is a good sign of creativity and confidence. However, insult-based humor can be offensive and you can’t expect everyone to be a good sport about it. Instead of being defensive when you hurt somebody’s feelings, own up to your mistake and apologize. You can still be funny without rubbing people the wrong way.

        If you think about it, happiness is easy but sometimes it is what we do to achieve it that makes it complicated. Simplifying things can be a good start, and if you find yourself too lazy to change, just remember that life is short to be miserable.

        Featured photo credit: happy pills via c2.staticflickr.com

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        Last Updated on October 16, 2018

        How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

        How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

        She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

        That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

        At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

        If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

        Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

        How irrational fears impact your life

        The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

        Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

        • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
        • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
        • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
        • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
        • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
        • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

        Why bother to fight the fear

        Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

        I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

        All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

        Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

        If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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        The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

        I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

        Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

        Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

        When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

        • New hobbies
        • New travels
        • New opportunities
        • More success
        • Financially more secure
        • Happier
        • Healthier
        • Confident

        The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

        How to fight your irrational fears

        In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

        Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

        Why did this happen?

        For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

        I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

        When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

        Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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        Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

        The tool kit

        From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

        I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

        1. Why I’m awesome

        Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

        2. Draw out your emotions

        Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

        I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

        3. Acknowledge that you need to change

        It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

        Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

        Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

        There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

        4. Choose your words carefully.

        I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

        Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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        5. Believe that you have the control power

        The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

        If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

        6. Put up physical reminders

        Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

        For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

        Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

        So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

        What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

        7. Physical supports

        Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

        Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

        8. Don’t go it alone

        The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

        However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

        It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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        9. Get physical

        One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

        Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

        When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

        If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

        The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

        A little fear can be good

        As someone famous once says:

        “It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

        Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

        And just remember, it’s never ever too late to face your fear and do what you desire most! It’s even possible to start over your life no matter what stage of life you’re at. Here’s the proof:

        How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

        So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

        Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

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