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5 Ways Guilt Negatively Impacts You

5 Ways Guilt Negatively Impacts You

I once thought I was depressed for my entire life – it turns out I was just Catholic. While I’m no longer Catholic, my guilt is. Confronting this guilt and learning to move past it was one of the most important steps to success I ever took in my life. Morality, ethics and compassion are important human traits, and, while guilt can also be valuable, it shouldn’t be the driving factor motivating you to be a good person. There are a million reasons to be a good person, and “to make up for a bad deed” is the least altruistic. Here’s how guilt negatively impacts your life. 

1. Guilt Affects You Physically

The feeling of guilt can weigh you down – it’s a gateway to regret. Both emotions start to weigh you down over time when not properly addressed. If you don’t immediately confront your guilt, it piles on, and can physically make you sick. Not only that, it negatively impacts your life decisions. You’ll eat less healthy, exercise less and slowly deteriorate over time.

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It’s not just physical health; guilt affects your physical body language, including your walk, stance and facial expressions. It can distract you from proper hygiene; and your wandering mind can cause you to miss minor details when getting dressed, such as leaving your fly down or tucking your shirt into your underwear.

2. Guilt Impedes Success

It’s hard enough getting a job or promotion with your fly down and your underwear showing. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that you’ve been wasting your time thinking about all the “bad” things you’ve done to people instead of keeping up to date on the latest info in your field. Can you think of one successful corporation or person who never made a decision that hurt someone?

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If you can, you’re wrong. Hurting someone may not be the intent, but the more people your decisions affect, the more impossible it becomes to make a decision that doesn’t hurt someone. It’s not possible for President Obama to make any decision that helps everyone without negatively impacting anyone. That’s how success works – you have to be cutthroat, or you’ll never achieve it.

3. Guilt Makes You Punish Yourself

In nature, brute strength, speed, and other physical attributes determine your survival. Human society is different in that intelligence and invention can overcome physical mismatches. As we evolved, we created organized religion as a way to protect ourselves. Someone bigger than me could kill me, but he’s unlikely to do so when faced with the possibility of being tortured in the afterlife by someone bigger than he is.

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Over time religion evolved, but the essence is unchanged. We’re trained by many religious teachers and practitioners to punish ourselves for crossing moral lines. Why punish yourself with guilt though? If you’re doing something wrong, you’ll be punished in the afterlife anyway, so you may as well enjoy the short lifespan you have before eternity.

4. Guilt Changes Your Personality

When you’re wrapped up in guilt, you may feel like you’re the same person, but people perceive you differently. Over time you become hardened, and some people will tell you this is called maturing and growing up, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

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It’s a fallacy that you can’t maintain the same level of curiosity, pleasure and excitement you had as a child throughout your entire life. You don’t have to be sour, overly-careful and judgmental to be an adult. Drop the guilt.

5. Guilt Ruins Your Life

Everyone makes mistakes – despite our best intentions, nobody makes it through life without harming someone. I’m not saying you should intentionally harm people, but you do need to accept that your actions could harm people. You can’t please all the people all the time, but if you’re overly worried about the negative impacts of your actions, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities.

Instead of sitting on the sidelines playing it safe, learn to focus on the positive impact of your actions. When you focus on the greater good, you’ll feel much more fulfilled.

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Last Updated on February 19, 2020

15 Positive Thinking Books You Need for a Happy Life

15 Positive Thinking Books You Need for a Happy Life

Books give us the opportunity to live vicariously through the lives of people with greater wisdom than ourselves. They stimulate our brains and help us not only solve the problems we struggle with, but also motivate and inspire us with new ideas.

One of the great things about people who think positively and live happy lives is that they love to help others do the same. There are countless positive-thinking books and these 15 are a great way to help you start living a happy life.

1. Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

mans search for meaning

    This book goes through the horrific struggle of Viktor Frankl who survived holocaust concentration camps. The only thing that kept him going was his idea that everything, even the worst of human suffering, had to have meaning. If you’re struggling through anything in your life, I guarantee the words of Viktor will give you courage to press on and find happiness.

    2. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

    tuesday with morrie

       

      What is life’s greatest lesson? Morrie, a retired professor with a fatal disease, opts to use his predicament to share that message as opposed to just giving up and dying. Following the last few months of Morrie’s life will help you realize what is truly important in life.

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      3. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

      Lecture_Book

        Similar to Tuesdays with Morrie, Randy is a college professor who finds he has a fatal disease with only a few months to live. It is customary for professors at his university (Carnegie Mellon) to give a final lecture with the basis of ‘what wisdom would you impart to a large group of people if it was your last chance?’ Randy stays incredibly positive throughout and even keeps the lecture humorous and entertaining. Amidst it all, his wisdom is a powerful reminder about how to live a happy, full life.

        4. Earning Freedom by Michael Santos

        earning freedom

          Michael Santos was sentenced to 45 years is prison for selling drugs. During his term he fought hard to earn a masters degree and half of a doctorate (halted by the warden) while writing numerous books educating students about the criminal justice system. This book provides a fascinating window into his entire sentence (released in 2012) and how a positive attitude and strong work ethic got him through it. If he found happiness in prison through positive thinking, we can do it anywhere.

          If you don’t have the attention span to finish a long book, the following quick reads are shorter but just as powerful.

          5. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

          little engine that could

            This book has shaped childrens’ minds for years. It illustrates the undeniable fact that when you think positively and believe in yourself, you can accomplish extraordinary things.

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            6. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

            The_Giving_Tree

              Happiness is found in giving. What does it mean to love someone? What would you sacrifice for someone you love? This children’s book teaches a valuable lesson about unconditional love and what it truly means to be happy.

              7. The Dash by Linda Ellis and Mac Anderson

              the dash

                “When your life is over, everything you did will be represented by a single dash between two dates—what will that dash mean for the people you have known and loved?” (Linda Ellis) We don’t choose a lot of things about our life – parents, birthplace, etc. – but we can choose what that dash between those two dates means. This short book will give you a great perspective on making your life worthwhile.

                8. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

                As-a-Man-Thinketh

                  “The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state… Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.” (James Allen) This book might be short, but it is jam-packed with statements that will make you stop and think. We truly become what we think we are. Negative thoughts affect us more than we know. Positive thinking = happy life.

                  9. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald  Miller

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                  a-million-miles-in-a-thousand-years

                    You are the author of your story. No matter how boring or dull your life has been, you can always turn it around. Donald was in a rut in his life. He had no desire to get out of bed and found himself questioning the meaning of life. Eventually he realized he wasn’t a slave to a pre-written script. He used that mindset to turn around his thoughts, actions, and life. When the closing credits roll on the story of your life, what will people say? Never forget that you have the power to push your limits and live an interesting, happy life.

                    10. The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews

                    travelersgift

                      The Traveler’s Gift is a fictional story about a man who is overwhelmed with life and finds himself thrown into numerous true events from history – including Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. He interacts and learns important life lessons from seven different experiences. The book is full of ways to think more positively and find more success in life.

                      11. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

                      david and goliath

                        Malcolm Gladwell motivates you to challenge your preconceptions of underdogs and misfits in this thought-provoking book. When you break down the facts in the story of David and Goliath from the Bible, you find that David really wasn’t an underdog at all – he was the one with the advantage. This book outlines story after story after story of people who were at a disadvantage and learned to find the strength in their weakness.

                        12. How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen

                        how will you measure

                          How would you feel if you got to the end of your life only to realize you had been measuring success wrong? Clayton provides a mass amount of wisdom and advice on how to live a life you won’t regret.

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                          13. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

                          Dont_Sweat_Small_Stuff

                            The small things we worry about every day may not seem like a big deal, but they wear us down slowly and stop us from living up to our full potential. Learn how to get rid of those worries and negative thoughts and live a happier life.

                            14. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

                            mere christianity

                              C.S. Lewis, who used to be an Atheist, explains how he came to find meaning in life through Christianity. He breaks down all the reasons we doubt and falter in life and how living the principles of Christianity fixes our weaknesses. Lewis is famous for his deep, thought-provoking quotes and this book is no exception.

                              15. Bushido: The Way of the Samurai by Tsunetomo Yamamoto

                              bushido

                                Bushido is based on the Hagakure, a document that served as the basis for samurai warrior behavior. The document’s purpose was to shape the mind and the spirit of the samurai warrior.

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                                Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

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