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10 Things You Should Give Up To Boost Happiness

10 Things You Should Give Up To Boost Happiness

Happiness is not a goal, but a state of being. People forget that though its true that you feel happiness when you reach your goals, DAILY happiness is an experience. Achieving your dreams does give happiness, but does not replace sadness. In fact, I would say that feeling happiness while reaching for your dreams is one of the most important keys in reaching your goals in the first place.

So if happiness begets more happiness AND success, how will someone get there if they don’t feel very happy right now? Luckily, there is a simple answer to this. All people would need to do, is give up on certain negative things that drag them down. There is a lot of baggage that people carry around and that prevents the experience of joy. Think of these things as blockages to the well of happiness that exists within everyone.

People can and have succeeded in their attempt to remove these harmful things from their lives. And everyone can do it. As long as he or she knows what baggage to give up, he will surely rediscover the happiness he always had.

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To help out, I list here 10 common things to give up to be happy:

1. Give Up Jealousy

Some people think that comparing themselves to others is good. It could be, if the purpose of is to compete. To give oneself a goal to aspire to. But it starts being harmful when the achievements of others bring about envious feelings. Give this up, and you’ll have more time focusing on what you could achieve instead of what others achieve.

2. Give up the Fear of Change

Most of the time, even if the current situation is like hell, a lot of people just refuse to budge. They know that they aren’t comfortable where they are. It’s just that they fear new things more! Shedding this feeling from their lives would open up new worlds for them to discover. Being able to decide to change and facing it head on is the most exhilarating feeling someone could experience.

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3. Giving up Control

Though many people want the power to control how their lives (and perhaps the lives of others) play out, not everything can be controlled. Sometimes, no matter how hard they try, not everything turns out the way they wanted it to. However, once people start recognizing that certain things and events are just really beyond their control, they can start to be more accepting of what life gives them.

4. Give up Overwork Time

Professional achievement drives a lot of businessmen and entrepreneurs to work long hours. I know it’s to achieve our dreams, but we need some balance in their lives in order to be happy. Achieving worthy goals is good, giving some time to other important parts of life (family, friends, hobbies) is better.

5. Give up Blaming

Sometimes, things go wrong. Whether its in the job or some other area of life, people feel the need to give blame to something or someone when this happens. It’s like a coping mechanism: people just don’t want to feel responsible for anything bad that happens. By giving this up, people can instead focus on finding solutions and getting out of a bad situation.

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6. Give up Complaining

Constantly complaining people not only ruin their own happiness, but the happiness of others too. The one thing that people could surely control is their reaction to unhappy events. One of the best things people could do is to stop their complaining and start looking at problems in a new light.

7. Give up the Need to Be Right All the Time

No one is possessed with the power to know everything there is to know. So why do some people insist that they are right all the time? Even if they were, would it have been worth it to argue with others because of it? Sometimes its just better to put the relationships you have over being right.

8. Give up Limiting Beliefs

Still some others feel that they just can’t achieve their dreams, or even some form of it. The feeling of lack, the belief that their ability is limited, is one of the BIGGEST obstacles to happiness. By giving this up, the world will start revealing unlimited possibilities.

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9. Give up Bad Friends

People are easily influenced by their peers. Humans are such social creatures that we adopt the habits and values of the people around us. Bad friends who influence people  to be less than what they could be will prevent them from experiencing the happiness they deserve. Instead, people should surround themselves with others who inspire them and drive them to live their lives to the fullest.

10. Give up the Past

Admittedly, the past is filled with experiences, good and bad. But these experiences are meant to build people up. The past should not be a recording of regrets that people look back to most of the time. The past should be a source of wisdom, to push people to become their better selves and continue to live the happy life they deserve to have.

Featured photo credit: Happiness/Farrukh via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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