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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.

7 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be a Happier Person How to Think Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More 10 Things Nice People Do Differently That Make Them Achieve More If You Hate Exercise, This Will Probably Change Your Mind

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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