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18 Ways Your Thinking Is Destroying Your Happiness

18 Ways Your Thinking Is Destroying Your Happiness

Do you destroy your happiness, without even realizing it? Let’s review 18 ways you might be doing that, and claim your best life today!

1. You distress about what’s ahead of you and forget about how far you’ve already come.

That’s the recipe for feeling discouraged. This bad habit dramatically increases your chances of giving up on your dream. If you instead focus a little more on the things you have achieved so far—the pounds you lost (or gained!), the things you learned, the money you made—then you’ll have a more holistic view of where you are and you won’t feel overwhelmed or powerless when looking ahead.

2. You think you need others to support you because you are afraid to be on your own.

This is such a big trap, and at the same time it’s so easy to miss because of denial.

That’s how people stay in abusive, or even ‘good enough’, relationships. That’s how other people depend on other people for money—whether that is family, or even an employer (vs. following their dream to start a business).

The truth is you have the power to go anywhere you want in life. But before you do that you first need to realize that you are actually depriving yourself of the opportunity to make it happen. Yup, that’s exactly what you do. You don’t even give yourself a chance to try. What if you did?

3. You think you’ll be happy later, when you have reached that goal.

You’ll be happy when you get fit, right? When you get that body you want, then you’ll be so happy. In the meantime, it’s normal to be miserable since your body is so unfit!

That’s exactly how we think with goals, all sorts of goals. Even though we know that money or a perfect body are not a prerequisite for happiness, we keep obsessing about it.

I hate that way of thinking—I call it The Happiness Paradox Trap. You see, even when you get fit, or make more money, or find love, you’ll then set new goals and you will have new excuses to be miserable!

But who said you can’t be both happy now and later? Why wait for some artificial goal to materialize to be happy? I believe that if you remind yourself enough that, yes, you can be happy now, you will indeed fall into this Happiness Paradox Trap less.

4. You see happiness as something exterior rather than as something interior.

You think it’s normal for others to be happy because they have better credentials, or make more money, or have a lovely spouse. Yet, we all know people who don’t have all that and are still happy.

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I understand that feeling miserable is a habit that we were taught in a young age. Buuut … it’s an irrational habit. Happiness is something interior, not something exterior. It’s a feeling and you can feel it anytime. Next time you tell yourself that you need something first to be happy: think again. Is what you’re saying rational?

5. You don’t take care of yourself.

You know you should exercise more, but don’t. You know you should be less hard on yourself, but are not. As a result, you feel guilty.

I understand that to an extent, the reason you don’t do what you think you should do, is that you don’t really know how to go about it and succeed. Hint: try a unconventional five-minute exercise program and you’ll know exactly what to do if the exercise example resonated with you.

Stop depriving yourself of happiness, and get rid of the guilt you feel because you know you should do X but don’t. If you find the right process that fits your needs, then I know you can make this happen! And no, you don’t need more motivation to do it and keep going.

6. You play the victim role.

You don’t need to be in a co-dependent relationship to play the victim role. Say you “can’t” do this or that? You are playing the victim role.

Here’s what you might not know though: You might actually get benefits by playing the victim.

For example, if you’re overweight and feel a victim because of that, you might secretly feel proud for going against what those evil magazines want you to do. Or, if you are overwhelmed, you might get to brag to others about how much you need to do.

Now that’s alright. Unless of course you want to stop being overwhelmed or overweight.

The first step is to ask yourself: “What advantages do I get from my current situation?” Be honest, and list at least seven! You just might get surprised …

7. You don’t see the meaning of jealousy.

Feeling jealous or envious? It’s because that other person either has something you don’t have or is doing something that you want to do, too! Jealousy just demonstrates—right in your face—the desires you are not pursuing yet!

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It’s not about the other person, it’s about you. The best way to stop feeling jealous? Take action towards where you want to go.

8. You look for what is bad rather than what is good.

What you focus on, grows. It’s the confirmation bias at play. If you want to create more good stuff in your life, then focus on that, and think less about the bad.

9. You are very frugal with helping others.

I recently read Give and Take, by Adam Grant. It’s a fantastic book that demonstrates how “givers”—people who generously help others—rise to the top more than “takers”, or people who feel they need to take others down in order for themselves to rise.

Apart from success, helping others has been scientifically proven to increase happiness.

Two birds with one stone…

10. You think people won’t like you.

Sometimes we are self-conscious and don’t expect much for ourselves. My world changed when I heard Byron Katie, spiritual teacher, say:

“When I walk into a room, I know that everyone in it loves me. I just don’t expect them to realize it yet.”

Now that’s a feeling good, friend-making recipe!

11. You rationalize your bad behavior.

Behavioral Economics Professor Dan Ariely has proven that most of us are liars. Yet, even though we lie, and lying is bad, we don’t think of ourselves as bad people. We are good people who … lie. Huh, how does this work?

It’s called rationalization or cognitive dissonance. The more we do it, the more we’ll keep doing bad things, and the more we won’t achieve the type of lasting happiness we’re after.

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12. You blame it all on yourself.

You are your only resource. Treat yourself like gold. Don’t blame it all on yourself, just to be on the safe side. Try to detach yourself from the situation and then re-think whether it’s all your fault or not.

13. You are a (past-focused) realist.

You think that being a realist make you objective, but are you really a “realist” or are you a “past-focused realist”?

Here’s the deal: Everything you experience today is the result of what happened yesterday, last week, last month, etc. Yet the future is the result of today plus the past.

For example, if you say, “I’m broke,” that might be true. But if you’re not considering that you are job hunting at the same time, then you’re a “past-focused realist”.

A true realist would say, “I’m broke but all this might change in an instant as I’m job hunting!”

See the difference?

14. You want to fix everything right NOW.

You cannot just do five minutes of exercise today. You need to do 30 minutes of exercise at least to get results, right?

You feel you need to get to the end goal, right now! Well, if you did, then what’s left to do for tomorrow?

Seriously, if you could just have everything today, what would you do tomorrow?

15. You don’t practice gratitude.

Think of one thing in your life that you’re so happy having. Did that? Feel better already? Follow the Stanford Professor BJ Fogg’s Method to make practicing gratitude a habit.

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16. You feel you need to prove yourself.

I’ve definitely fallen into this trap. So here’s my question: “What is it that you’re lacking that you feel you need to prove?”

Answering this honestly will open the pathway to happiness, and get you further away from feelings of unworthiness.

17. You look for others to save you.

You think you don’t know enough about X and need someone else to help you. That might be true, but sometimes it’s only an excuse not to get your hands dirty.

It’s rarely because you’re lazy. It’s mostly because you feel incompetent. Here’s another example: You wait for someone to give you advice on what to do, when you’re the person who should give advice to yourself!

The problem here lies in the attitude of, “I’m not good enough to do this”, “I don’t know enough”, etc.

But what if you do know enough, and yes, you are good enough?

18. You’re afraid to let go of good enough in order to get to great.

Sometimes it’s just easy to settle for “good”. But what if it’s great that you really crave? You know good is the enemy of great, right? Watch Marie Forleo explain why she walked away from a million dollars, and get inspired to leave what’s good behind in order to get to great.

So what will you do today or this week to destroy your happiness less and enjoy life more?

More by this author

Maria Brilaki

Maria helps people create habits that stick not just for a month or two but for years and decades.

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More How to Have Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy Instantly 10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More If You Hate Exercise, This Will Probably Change Your Mind 10 Thinking Mistakes You’re Probably Making

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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