14 Ways You Are Ruining Your Own Happiness
Happiness is the ultimate end goal for most of us, am I right?
We all just want to be happy and live great lives. But sadly most of the time, we get in our own way when it comes to happiness.
I’m going to state something that you might not believe at first, but bear with me:
YOU are the one and only thing on this planet that can either create or destroy happiness for yourself
Not your life circumstances, not other people, not your job, your boss, your weight, your house, none of those things.
This is because your thoughts alone control your feelings, and happiness is a feeling. Your circumstances have nothing to do with your happiness. It’s your THOUGHTS about these circumstances that cause your happiness, or unhappiness.
For example, I currently live in a big, but outdated, apartment. That is my circumstance. It’s a fact. When I first moved in, I was not happy. I couldn’t stop thinking about the tiny, ugly, pink-tiled bathroom, the old-ass kitchen appliances, the aged kitchen floor, the creaky, dirty windows, etc. I was focusing and thinking about all the negative things constantly, which made me constantly irritated and unhappy.
Eventually I decided to look at the apartment situation differently. Instead of thinking “I’m trapped in this old rickety apartment and I hate it”, I changed it to “This place is big, it has potential, what can I do to make it better?” Instantly my mood shifted from unhappy to determined. I stopped wallowing and throwing myself a pity party and got to work.
The more improvements I made, the more happy and content I became. My circumstances did not change at all, I am still in this old apartment, but I feel so much better about it because I dumped out all those negative thoughts and decided to focus on the positive instead.
I truly believe this can be done with any situation.
But, maybe you’re not sure exactly what thoughts are making you unhappy. That is normal.
It’s hard because a lot of our thoughts are subconscious and we aren’t even aware of them.
That’s why I created a list below of the most common causes of unhappiness. Not all of these may apply to you, but I bet if you are unhappy, at least one of these statements will ring true for you, if not many.
14 Happiness Blockers:
1. You worry constantly (about things you can’t control):
– there are 2 different types of worrying: one is the anticipation of something you know is going to happen, like a scheduled event you are nervous about, and the other is the anticipation of something vague in the future that may or may not happen. Both steal happiness, but the second one is worse because it’s ongoing. If you’re nervous and worried a few days leading up to some big event you are hosting, that’s normal and fine. But if you are constantly worrying about things you can’t control, and hypothetical future situations, you are ALWAYS going to be unhappy. It brings potential future negative emotions into the present, and it adds nothing positive to your life.
Your worrying is doing nothing to prevent these things from happening, and you can’t predict the future, so why not just relax in the meantime?
“Worry is a misuse of the imagination, so I imagine greatness instead” – Dan Zadra
2. You compare yourself to others too much
– everyone compares themselves to other people. Everyone compares other people to other people. We are humans and it’s what we do. But you get into trouble when you do it TOO much, when it consumes you.
You are always going to see the best in others and the worst in yourself. For some reason that is how our brains like to work. Just remember that behind those smiley instagram pictures could be a whole mess, or maybe they had to take 1000 pictures just to get that one right one. Who knows. And there are probably people out there looking at you, thinking how great you seem and comparing themselves to you.
It’s all about perspective baby.
3. You think about other people too much
– for the record, I’m not saying that thinking about other people in a philanthropic way is bad. This is different and goes hand in hand with #2 above. You think about how they think about you, or worry how they feel, or are upset by how they feel toward you. Stay out of their minds and in your own business. Other people will do and think and feel however they want, no matter how much you wish they would be different. Let them live their lives and focus on your own instead.
For more help with people pleasing and struggling with needing to everyone like you, check out How To Stop People Pleasing and Live Your Damn Life.
4. You spend zero time per day pursuing or doing things you love
– so many of us as we get older begin to lose passion for things we used to love (which is OK, things change – I no longer love playing with dolls and that is just fine). The problem is, we don’t replace these things with new hobbies we love. So many of us were brought up with this work ethic where work and life isn’t fun, you just grind through them until retirement and then maybe get to spend some time on a beach somewhere before you die. Like, WHY! Why do we do that to ourselves? Life should be enjoyed! Life should be about pursuing and doing things that make you happy. And it doesn’t have to be at the expense of your job or your family or anything.
Set some time aside to figure yourself out – what you like, what you dislike, what’s important to you. Use my guide here to help: 14 Prompts To Figure Yourself Out.
Then set your life up to pursue and do more of the things you like, and less of what you dislike. Anything is possible if you set your mind to it. You CAN figure out a way.
5. You are pessimistic
– if you’re a pessimistic person, you will notice all of the bad in your life. You are constantly thinking negative thoughts about yourself, your life, or the world in general, and there is no quicker recipe to unhappiness than this. Your perception becomes your reality.
Try shifting these negative thoughts into more neutral or positive thoughts. Look on the brighter side of things, and look for the good in every situation.
Do this prompt with every single crappy situation you encounter: “This is good because ______”.
It’ll force your brain to look for the positive and eventually it will re-wire to do this more automatically.
6. You believe everyone should play by your rules
– not everyone thinks the same way you do, or perceives the world the same. Not everyone is going to have the same values and beliefs as you do, no matter how “right” or “valid” you think they are.
So let the rulebook go and choose to be happy instead of right.
7. You hold grudges
– if you’re holding a grudge, you are sacrificing your own happiness for really no reason other than wanting to feel right. Holding a grudge against someone doesn’t affect THEM in any way, it only affects you and ruins YOUR life. Like I said right above, choose to be happy instead of right. You are only hurting yourself when you hold a grudge.
8. You’re bored/You’re not growing & learning/You don’t have anything you’re working toward
– one of my favorite definitions of happiness is the joy and excitement you feel when you are working toward your potential. When we just sit and live the same day over and over and over again, we create a boring, unfulfilled life, and that makes us unhappy.
If you are feeling stuck in this cycle, check out 12 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Are Feeling Stuck
9. Your body is unhealthy
– the body/mind connection is a real thing. When your body feels like shit, you are going to feel like shit mentally also. I am NOT saying you have to be thin and in shape to be happy – no, no – I’m just saying when you put the right foods and care into your body, you are going to start feeling better mentally too.
10. You have unrealized dreams
– when you have this feeling like you were meant to do more with your life, it leaves this unhappy hole in you. It’s like you know you have untapped potential that you’re not doing anything with. You know your life could be different if you could just figure out what you really want.
11. You have no meaning in your life
– this goes with the above: if you have nothing in your life that feels meaningful to you, you will be unhappy. We need to feel like our lives mean something in order to keep looking ahead and growing. Because if you feel your life has no meaning, what is the point of trying?
This is especially true when it comes to your career. If what you do for work doesn’t mean anything to you, that means you are spending the majority of your time and life working for something you don’t care about. How is that supposed to generate happiness? Either seek out new, more meaningful work that you actually care about, or if career change isn’t an option, find things outside of work that bring you pride and joy. It could be volunteering, or starting a side hustle that helps people, or supporting a cause.
Just get out there and find something that will drive you to thrive.
12. You have chosen to be happy only when all of your dreams come true, only when “X” happens
– when you DO know what your dreams are, so many of us fall into the trap of “when or if I get X, then I will be happy”. When I get a new house, then I will be happy. When I’m making 6-figures, then I will be happy. If I fall in love, then I will be happy. If I lose this weight, then I will be happy. Then we reach our goals and don’t feel any different.
It’s great to strive for things, but don’t let your happiness be dependent upon achieving those things. Find happiness now, learn to enjoy the process, and it will make going after those goals or dreams easier. Remember, happiness is a state of mind. Why wait until some uncertain future to be happy?
13. You only think about the future
– thinking about the future is great sometimes, and it can move us forward in life, but getting stuck in the future is detrimental. If you’re always striving for that next best thing, that next level, and that’s all you can think about, you are sucking away all of the happiness from the present moment.
14. You’re stuck in the past
– I used to get stuck in my past all. the. time. I would replay these embarrassing, or shameful, or awkward situations in my mind over and over and it would make me feel awful. Once I learned I had control over these thoughts, and I didn’t HAVE to think about the past, I was like phew, thank god, I am ready to let all of this go. Living in the past only makes you feel those negative emotions more times that you need to. There is absolutely no positive benefit of living in the past. It just brings those negative emotions you felt at the time of the incident into your present-day life. WHY!
When you find yourself stuck in a thought-loop about a past event, say the following to yourself: “Hey, thinking about this now is only making me unhappy and adding nothing useful to my life. I acknowledge that this past thing happened and it wasn’t great, but I am only concerned about my present and future now.”
I hope these 14 explanations helped you pinpoint where your unhappiness might be coming from. The first step to living a happier and fuller life is just becoming aware of what is going on in your own mind. That might be all you need to start making some changes to your thinking habits in order to create more happiness in your life.
Be sure to check out the Related Reading below to learn even more ways to improve yourself, your mind, and your life.
14 Prompts To Figure Yourself Out
Figuring yourself out goes hand in hand with increasing your happiness. If you don’t know who you are, what you truly like, or what’s important to you, you can’t pursue those things. Use these prompts to get to know yourself a little better and start moving in the direction of increased happiness and purpose.