“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.” –Audrey Hepburn
Ever had the experience of sinking so far into the “depths of despair” that you couldn’t seem to find a way out? Or the experience of trying everything, only to find the same bleakness surrounding you?
You are not alone.
We live in an increasingly negative world; a world in which those who want to be happy are often labeled as weird or selfish (or both!)
If you’re feeling downtrodden, as if nothing you do makes a difference, consult these 7 common happiness pitfalls.
1. Your happiness is dependent upon external things.
True happiness comes from within. Happiness can never be constant if it always relies on something else.
If your happiness relies on the number of miles you run, the number of friends you have, or the amount of promotions you make, you will never be truly happy. Instead, work to find your inner joy by practicing mindfulness and self-love.
2. You fear being alone.
Solitude is a beautiful thing, but for some reason, many people fear it. But happiness can only be constant if it is found from within, whether you are in the presence of others or without them. You will never be truly happy if you fear being by yourself.
If you find yourself feeling the need to be around people all the time, or find yourself feeling massive pangs of loneliness anytime you spend time by yourself, you may have some work to do. Try adding a solitary activity you enjoy into your weekly schedule or mindful activities such as yoga.
3. You allow your happiness to depend on others.
Happiness should only depend on one person and one person only: yourself.
If you find that you are relying on the approval of other people in order to feel happy about yourself, you have a problem. Try exercising positive affirmations such as “I am more than enough.”
4. You don’t know the difference between self-awareness and self-loathing.
Self-awareness is nonjudgmental acknowledgment of feelings and thoughts as they pass through you; self-loathing is self-judgment of actions, characteristics, thoughts, and feelings.
If you find yourself getting confused between the two, you will find it difficult to be happy. The key is to silence the ego, and observe your feelings and thoughts as if you were a third party. This is self-awareness: non-judgmental observation. Try yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness activities to increase your self-awareness.
5. You compare your life with others.
One definitive downside to living in the age of technology is the increasing access we have to compare our lives with others. With Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets, it is ever so easy to get snippets of other people’s lives, and compare our own lives with theirs.
If you find that you spend a large amount of time downsizing your own life in relation to others, try exercising power mantras daily that remind you of your uniqueness.
6. You hang around negative thinkers.
Our environment shape us into the person we are. Who you hang around makes a large difference: if you hang around people who support you, encourage you, and lift you up, your life will move in positive directions. If, however, you hang around a large number of negative thinkers who suck the life out of you, their negativity will begin rubbing off onto you and your life.
If you find that the majority of your friends bring you down, consider exploring new social circles.
7. You’re in a career you hate.
We spend over 40 hours a week investing in our careers (and, more often than not, it’s closer to 50+ hours). That is a huge amount of our daily lives. If these hours are spent investing in careers that we despise, we will more than likely become unhappy.
If you find that you are in this situation – you spend your 40+ hours at the office despising every minute and counting down the seconds until you get to leave – it may be time to consider other options. Try researching new career options, building a project on the side, or getting career counseling.