“Happiness is a state of activity.” –Aristotle
Happy is as happy does. Happiness is not something you are born with. Some people may always be jolly and skipping along, but it’s not automatic. In order to be happy, you have to be active in it.
But sometimes, it’s what you don’t do that gets you in a jolly state. We all carry cranky beliefs, mindsets, and habits. To enjoy more of what life has to offer (which, in case you didn’t know, is quite a lot!) you have to quit doing that harmful stuff.
Below are 11 things you need to drop today in order to be happy.
1. Spending time with toxic people.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” –Jim Rohn (tweet)
There’s an old Mexican saying: tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are.
You eventually become more like the people you spend most of your time with. Our mindsets, moods, even our mannerisms shift to mirror those of our best friends or partners.
This also includes the bad stuff. Their toxicity will become yours. Their anxiety will become yours, too. Life is hard enough as it is, so nobody needs that extra gunk. Look around at your circle and assign positive or negative feelings to each person, and start to peel away from those who are keeping you from being happy.
2. Being focused on the goal and not enjoying the work.
“It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly.” –Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Goals are essential. They give us a sense of clarity and purpose to our days. But being too attached to goals, or the result of our work, can make you miss all the joys that are sprinkled along the way.
One thing you’ll miss if you are too concerned with the end result is a state of flow. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi has spent his whole life detailing this state of mind that happens when you are so immersed in the task at hand that you lose sense of time and being. You are happily in a groove. This state can only happen if you concern yourself with the work itself, what’s right in front of you, not the end of the journey. This way, you’ll enjoy the ride.
3. Thinking of money as a goal, not a tool.
“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.” –Democritus (tweet)
Guess what? Money is a pretty crappy purveyor of happiness. Money is great at taking away problems or concerns, but not great at consistently bringing us joy. There’s a larger (very interesting) explanation of why that is (i.e. Herzberg’s Motivation Theory), but the gist is this: to find happiness, you have to stop focusing on money so much.Advertising
That does not mean, however, that money has no influence on your sense of happiness. It is influential, but in a roundabout way.
In order to make money work for you and help you be happy, use it to either be generous (more on this below) or to purchase experiences. Experiences include vacations, taking interesting classes, or going on a weekend retreat. These experiences have a more profound and long-lasting happy buzz than does buying an HDTV or a new dress.
4. Being too focused on what you want and not grateful for what you have.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”–Denis Waitley
If you could buy everything in the world (all the cars, houses, trips, everything), what else would you want? If you have a nagging feeling that there’s still something more out there, then you may need to pause. You need to drop that mindset or else you’ll never be happy.
You, like pretty much everybody else, are not appreciating your current blessings: your job, your friends, your health, your collection of leather-bound books. You are probably taking them for granted, just like I do all the time.
In order to be happy, you need to start with what you have right now. Happiness doesn’t happen in the future when all your wishes come true. It happens when you can appreciate and savor what you have now. That way, whether you have a little or a lot, you’ll always have enough.
5. Comparing your Facebook profile to your friends’.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” –Oscar Wilde (tweet)
Today, everyone is connected (yay!) which also means everyone is comparing themselves to each other (boo!). Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—all of these are social networks that can have a dark side. When you use them to compare your life to the lives of your friends, you start to feel insufficient, boring. You wonder, “Why can’t I have as fun a life as his!”
But it’s not a fair comparison. Social networks are tabloids you can editorialize any way you want, which means we all only show each other the really good stuff. But we forget about that when we compare everybody’s lives to our own. Nobody has a life that’s only full of great food and breath-taking views.
I’ve written more about this on my blog, but the main takeaway here is to stop comparing yourself to your social media peeps. That image you see of them is not the full picture, so don’t be hard on yourself. Be kind.
6. Holding grudges and seeking payback.
“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” –Robert Muller (tweet)
Remember that guy who cut you off the other day? Or that old lady at the DMV who was really rude? Taking revenge, at a small or large scale, is a pretty common instinct.
But most of the time, we never do anything about it. You just sit there, stewing with thoughts of revenge. “I shoulda told her to go suck a lemon!” Those people who ruined your day will never hear from you. Meanwhile, you are tossing and turning, twisted by anger and bitterness.Advertising
Even if you were to do something, what would you get? Just a new cycle of tit for tat. Today’s fight would sprout tomorrow’s battle.
In order to be happier, you need to just let go.
Let go of that diss.
Let go of that insult.
Wash it off like dirty water. This doesn’t mean you ought to lay over and take it. Not at all; one thing is forgiveness while the other is allowance. But if there’s nothing you can do to prevent it, then try to forgive them for their unkind act. Otherwise, it will keep living in you for way longer than you deserve.
7. Worrying about the plan when there is no plan.
“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.” –Dennis Waitley (tweet)
You grow up thinking that you need a plan for everything. You need a career plan, a marriage plan, a get-happy-by-finding-your-bliss plan. But you quickly find out that all the answers you thought you had are not really there. There are tons of questions, instead. This can make anybody miserable.
Let go of the plan. Life is so immense that any plan you can think of will be somewhat off, at best. And that’s fine. The beauty isn’t in the plan, but in your intentions, your work, and your reactions. To be happy you have to ditch “the plan,” and just try your best. Good stuff will happen, happiness will happen, you just have to let it breathe.
8. Being your own worst critic.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” –Gautama Buddha (tweet)
Human beings are pretty good at being their own worst critics. That rough call you had with your client means you are bad at what you do which means you’ll soon be without a job which will make you homeless and you’ll lose all your friends. I’m exaggerating about the thought process, but not by much.
This is called catastrophizing. To enjoy a happier life, you have to stop beating yourself up.
Here’s one easy way of doing that, developed by Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness.
Once you start to feel this catastrophic thinking emerge, follow the ABCDE method:Advertising
– A: What adversity just happened?
– B: Because of that adversity, what do you believe now? That you are a bad person?
– C: What did that belief cause you to feel? Are you now angry? Disappointed?
– D: It’s time to disputate. Argue with yourself that your belief is wrong. You are not a bad person, because you’ve always been kind and fair This is just a rare occurrence.
– E: Now that you’ve argued yourself to a healthier thought process, you should feel energized.
9. Giving stress its super power.
“When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage.” –Kelly McGonigal (tweet)
Stress is a silent killer. We all know this, and we all know the litany of deadly consequences it has if left unchecked.
You just need to stop stressing out in order to be happier. No duh, but how do you take the power away from stress?
Easy: re-think the definition of it. Kelly McGonigal has done amazing research on the effects of stress, but, more importantly, how one’s attitude can drastically change its effect on us.
If you view stress as helpful, the adverse side effects plummet or almost completely disappear. Stress loses its power, and you lead happier, healthier lives.
To view stress as helpful, you need to reframe your stress-induced reactions.
Stress is not bad. It’s actually preparing you to rise to the occasion. Your heart is beating faster to prepare you to act. You’re breathing faster because you’re sending more air to your brain so it can react more swiftly. You are sweating because your body is cooling you down so you’re more comfortable.
A simple tweak like this will help you walk away smiling from from stressful situations.Advertising
10. Being too careful with your generosity.
“Being a giver is not good for a 100–yard dash, but it’s valuable in a marathon.” –Adam Grant (tweet)
We live fast-paced lives, where time, energy, and even money are not easy to dish out. In order to survive, you ought to be stingy with yourself and hoard as much as you can.
Maybe. But if you want to be happier, this is horrible advice.
To be happy, you must give. Being generous has been proven to boost your happiness. Any act of generosity can make you feel automatically better about yourself and everything else. It also doesn’t have to be about money. You can be generous with your social connections, your listening, or, like Professor Grant, author of Give and Take, with your time:
Grant incorporates his field’s findings into his own life with methodical rigor: one reason he meets with students four and a half hours in one day rather than spreading it out over the week is that a study found that consolidating giving yields more happiness”
11. Caring about everyone else (in the wrong way).
“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” –Virginia Woolf (tweet)
We care too much other people, but in the wrong way. We decide what to wear based on what others might think. We are careful with what we say to not upset anyone. We avoid stating our opinions, and the potential conflict therein, to please everybody around us. Essentially, we are imprisoned by other people’s expectations.
To be happy, you have to be you. Whatever that entails, you must be it.
If that means you are a comic book nerd, then nerd on!
If that means you love wearing tie-dye shirts every day, then right on, brother!
Once you stop caring about other people and stop letting them dictate what you are, how you act, and what you like, you’ll achieve an authentic level of happiness that few ever do.
Everybody has their own kind of quirks and weirdness. Most of us just don’t ever show it for fear of being shunned as “different.” But how can you be happy when you are constantly fighting against yourself, not letting your full self enjoy the sunshine? Drop the act, be yourself, and be happier.
Featured photo credit: whologwhy via flickr.com
Last Updated on August 19, 2019
How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want
We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.
When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.
In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.
Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.
If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.
According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.” Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.
No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.
When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.
Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.
1. Embrace Your Vulnerability
When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.
Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.
When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.
Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.
In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.
It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.
You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.
Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.
What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?
You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.
That’s where we all should be.
So, answer me this:
How are you, really?
And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.
Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.
Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.
Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)
Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.
It’s taking control.
2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity
You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.
You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.
In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.
Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.
You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…
Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’ When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.
But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?
It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.
In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You
It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.
Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:
Change will happen.
Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.
You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.
And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.
You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?
That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.
You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.
When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.
There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.
3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking
Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.
In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.
If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.
Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.
Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable. It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved. It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.
How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?
Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.
“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.
Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.
Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.
It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.
Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,
“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”
What would you do if you felt you were enough?
By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.
So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.
By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.
Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.
When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.
You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!
More About Living Your True Self
- Do You Want to Know the Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life?
- How To Be True To You When Life Pulls You Off Track
- How to Find the Purpose of Life and Start Living a Fulfilling Life
- How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up
Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com
|||^||Svend Brinkman : Happiness Has Become an Emotional Burden|
|||^||Clayton Barbeau: Shoulding Yourself, Shoulding Others|
|||^||Meagan O’Reilly: A Stanford Psychologist Says Feeling You’re No Enough Rips These 5 Things Away From You|