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This Is the One Reason Why You Aren’t Happy

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This Is the One Reason Why You Aren’t Happy

I used to tie my happiness to other people and their expectations of me, particularly at school and at home. I’d think:

“When I get an A it’ll make them happy, then I’ll be happy.”

“If I please all my teachers, then I’ll be happy.”

“If I please my parents, then I’ll be happy.”

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Ultimately, I was always thinking, “If I make ‘them’ happy, then I’ll be happy.”

A nice sentiment I’m sure you’ll agree. The only teeny, tiny, slight problem was that I wasn’t happy. I’d tied my happiness to other people and totally forgotten about whether what I was doing was actually making me happy. And, really, wouldn’t they have wanted me to do what I wanted rather than constantly trying to make them happy? It’s ridiculously obvious when written down like this, but if this is what you do, you’re not at all alone.

The trap of tying your happiness to external factors

If you tie your happiness to other people, you’ll never be able to control it, because you can’t control them. If they’re not happy or behaving how you want them to, what does that mean for you? Similarly, if you tie your happiness to your dreams and goals and achievements, it’ll always be fleeting. Because there’s always another dream or goal or achievement.

If you tie your happiness to stuff, it won’t last. Because you’ll always want more stuff. And you’ll always say, “When I get that, then I’ll be happy.” If you tie your happiness to money, it will evade you, because there’s always more money to earn. You’ll say, “When I have this much, then I’ll be happy.”

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This is why people who’ve achieved a lot sometimes talk about having that empty feeling: they’ve tied their happiness to something external. Yes, they’ve achieved a lot and have loads of money and stuff, but they’re the people who do say, “When I’ve achieved this, then I’ll be happy,” “When I’ve got this much money, I’ll be happy.” It’s never ending because, as I’ve explained, there’s always something else. More stuff. More money.

The one reason why you aren’t happy is…

So what’s the one reason why you aren’t happy? It’s because you’re not tying your happiness to yourself. You’re not tying it to who you are. You’re 100% in control of these things, and you can therefore be as happy as you want, for as long as you want, wherever you are. Of course, it’ll get rocked from time to time, but it can always come back to the rock-solid base that is you. And yes, you’ll grow and evolve, but you’ll still be you. You own your happiness. We all do.

Now I hear you ask, “Matt, oh wise one (okay, you probably didn’t say that), how did you tie your happiness to yourself?” I’ll tell you. I found out what was important to me. What really mattered to me, and why. Because that’s who I was — and am — and once I admitted who I truly was, I was so proud of me. I was happy.

Why you should choose to be happy

A nurse who worked in a hospice conducted a study on the regrets of the dying, and came out with a top 5 (look it up; it’s extremely powerful). One of the regrets, which really hit me at the time I read it, was: “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” To reiterate: this is one of the top 5 regrets of people who are at the end of their lives. I think that’s very telling. Perhaps they finally realized that happiness was a choice. Do you let yourself be happy? If you died tomorrow, would you have the same regret?

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If you’re not totally happy (which is not the same as being sad or depressed), I’ll leave you with these questions:

What would happen if you were happy?

What do you have to let go of to be happy?

When you allow yourself to be happy, what will you do?

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Want to read even more cool stuff about happiness? 20 Definitions Of Happiness You Need To Know

Featured photo credit: Nina Matthews via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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