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The Real Differences Between Short-Term Verses Long-Term Happiness

The Real Differences Between Short-Term Verses Long-Term Happiness

I was in a department store the other day when I saw a young mother trying to placate a crying two year old. Every parent has been there. She was able to appease the child with a bit of candy. Again, every parent has been there.

I could only think of how long this would last after the piece of candy was gone. Would the child’s outlook improve for the better? Or was this going to be a long ride home for that mother? The brief reprieve may be only short lived.

As adults we are faced with the same balance of what brings long term and short term happiness. We can sometimes get lost in the benefits of long term contentment. It helps us to grow and develop and appreciate what we have. Here are seven ways to recognize the benefits of each.

1. How You Look vs Who You Are

There is an old saying that clothes make the man. This makes a great advertising slogan, but it is only true on the surface. A nice suit is great at making a good first impression. Long lasting relations are dependent on you.

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Developing your character in the way you act and interact has much more meaning. You are able to influence people around you and leave a lasting impression that a flashy car or nice clothes cannot.

2. Relationships Based On A Checklist

Some people seek to make friends or develop relationships based on a checklist. They think the best qualities are like making a grocery list. Good looks? Check! Sense of humor? Check! No job? Nope sorry!

Maybe there is safety in developing a list like this for looking for the perfect partner. The problem is there may not be a perfect one. Finding relationships that complement you and make you happy is what is important.

3. The Cool Crowd Or Your Caring Posse?

Someone once told me that an acquaintance will buy you drinks at a bar. But a real friend will drive you home when you cannot. There are people with a natural charisma who draw people to them. They can show you a good time or be the life of the party.

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Can you rely on people like this when the chips are down? It’s great to have friends that want to have a good time but the ones that bring long term joy are those who have your back.

4. How Does Money Make You Happy?

Entrepreneurism has become prevalent in today’s business world. It is now easy to start a business with the Internet and technology. There are two different reasons why people pursue starting a business: to make money or fulfill a passion.

Making money is a necessity, but it is something that is used for basic needs. For more lasting joy, doing something you like needs to be considered. It is the fuel that drives you during stressful periods.

5. You Are What You Eat

Certain behaviors can trigger what we eat. The break up with a significant other can mean bringing out ice cream. A desire to lose weight promotes dieting for long term health. Various aspects of our lives can affect our food regimen.

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Food may be something that comes to mind when discussing short term verses long term happiness, but it is such an important part of our lives and well being. It is the focal point of social engagements. It is a cornerstone of our health. Think about the food you eat and see if your eating habits satisfy immediate needs or are part of something important.

6. Spending Your Time Wisely Or Foolishly

Which of these describes you: sitting on the couch flipping through 200 channels claiming there is nothing on? Or making a family night out of watching a movie with members of your household? How you spend your time can make a big difference between short-term verses long-term happiness.

Time is a precious commodity. You can always make money but you cannot make time. Consider if you are using your time wisely or just going through the motions of life. Looking back, you may regret not taking advantage of it.

7. Taking Care Of Your Health Or Putting It Off

I, like many, do not see going to the doctor as a favorite activity. There are things you would rather be doing than sitting in a waiting room all morning, not to mention the lecture of not eating or exercising properly.

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The fact is a few hours of what feels like an inconvenience is necessary. Your health is so important and keeping up on maintaining it means avoiding or minimizing serious health problems. It may feel okay to cancel appointments when you do not feel like going, but it could have ramifications if you blow it off long term.

Life is full of simple pleasures that bring happiness. Immediate gratification is common because it is simple and easy. But remember the bigger picture too as you consider the differences between short-term verses long term happiness in your life.

Featured photo credit: @Doug88888 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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