You’ve been on a path your whole life that you thought would bring happiness, but instead you’re feeling far from it. Destination: Lost.
Humans are imperfect, that’s for sure! But if something feels off-kilter these days and you’re not where you want to be, here are ten possible reasons that you’re driving on the wrong road away from happiness.
1. Holding on to the past
Whether you’re holding on to good or bad memories, spending your life in another time or place does not propel you forward into something for the better. Pay attention to what you are doing right now, today. Learn from your past experiences, thoughts, and feelings, and live now; beauty can unfold in magical ways right in front of you if you just look.
2. Negative self-talk
“I’m not good enough,” is a poisonous thought. Each day, write down ten affirmations or things you like about yourself. This is probably the easiest way to rewire your brain if you keep at it. Love doing you: just because someone you really cared about never loved you, it doesn’t mean you can’t love yourself. In the end, your love and positivity will matter more, rather than relying on others to find it.
Sometimes it seems like the internet is usually one big procrastination machine where you can’t get anything done. You have an automatic switch in your head – when a due date is nigh, it’s suddenly time to watch season one of Beverly Hills: 90210! Start with one imperfect baby step at a time instead of putting off a task. The more you “forget” about what you need to do, the more you end up actually thinking about it.
4. Blaming others
It feels justified to blame others because you know it’s not your fault things turned out the way they did. But blaming others when you’re having a tough time means that you’re denying responsibility. In fact, you’re making the problem worse by self-victimizing. If you’re really upset about a situation, allow yourself to feel the feeling of anger or fear, or whatever it is, instead of blaming someone else for it. Then when you’re ready, let go.
5. Living for a paycheck
There’s actually nothing more soul-destroying than working a job you hate just for the money. Work takes up a large percentage of your life, and if you’re not happy in life, the money truly won’t matter. Do work that defines who you are. Who are you, anyway? Take some time to figure that out, ask yourself uncomfortable questions, and slowly start finding an imperfect path to fulfillment.
6. Never opening the door to challenge
Never accepting challenges is like never wanting to change. Hiding in a corner because you’ve always done that because you never felt loved and you felt ashamed for these feelings will never empower you to be something beyond that. You’ll be stuck in that corner forever, perpetuating the cycle. Tackle the problem one day at a time instead of running away from it. If you’re a shy recluse who doesn’t leave the house, go out in public once a day and look someone in the eye before you move on to your bigger fears.
7. Comparing yourself to others
Your life does not revolve around your fantasy of what other people’s lives appear to be on the surface. You’re looking at Sally’s job at the Best Company Ever and thinking that she must have the Best Life Ever, when, in fact, there’s a total disaster area happening in another part of her life. If you often catch yourself comparing yourself to others, consider deactivating your social media channels for a day and see how you feel. Studies on how Facebook affects self-esteem may very well apply to you.
8. Being ungrateful
Learn to become grateful for the bad experiences you’ve had or the mistakes you’ve made. Sit and dwell and feel crappy about it if you have to – it’s better than denying it. You just got fired, and yes, it’s going to feel pretty bad for a long time. But you learned that the job wasn’t right for you. Now it’s time to embark on a new, better path. Wake up each day thankful to be alive. Notice what you have that others do not.
9. Not being nice to yourself
Practice self-compassion. Ugh, not another one of those words again, like “affirmation.” But trust me, being fully with yourself in a loyal, nonjudgmental way is one step to happiness. Don’t say anything to yourself you wouldn’t say to a friend or family member that you love. You need care, concern and unconditional acceptance as much as the next person.
10. Trying to be someone you’re not
Your whole life, your parents pressured you to get good grades so you’d end up in medical or law school. But that’s never what you wanted. At some point, analyze the mental childhood conditioning you’ve been brought up with. Check in with yourself. Wanting to be pretty and rich might really mean wanting attention, which might really mean wanting to be loved for who you are. It’s time to start digging deep!
Related: Here are 15 Things You Need to Give Up if You Want to Be Happy.