It is said that happiness is a state of mind and to a certain extent, that’s true. But I believe that whether we are happy or unhappy is more about the habits we have.
It’s a sad fact, but a mere 33% of Americans consider themselves to be happy. Why is this? We live in a land filled to the brim with opportunity where anyone can choose to live the life they want.
But they don’t.
Instead we see unhappiness at every corner. From the impatient person standing behind you at the grocery store, to the teller at the bank who looks like she would rather be anywhere else at that moment, to your neighbors across the street, who never look up and say, “Hello.”
The only difference between the person you see happily walking down the street seemingly without a care in the world and the person next to them consumed in misery is the choices they make each and every day.
And of course each choice repeated becomes a habit. Habits dictate everything from our experiences to our outcomes and everything in between.
Below are 10 destructive habits that unhappy people have:
- You live to please other people. This is a devastating habit to possess because you choose to live your life trying to make everyone happy and in turn, fail to make yourself happy. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to figure out what really drives you on a deep emotional level and then do it.
- You have an overwhelming fear of criticism. From his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill stated that a fear of criticism robs man of his initiative, destroys his power of imagination, limits his individuality, takes away his self-reliance, and does him damage in a hundred other ways. Most people spend their days worrying about what others think about them and will go to great lengths to look good or save face. The ironic part is that those same people are so consumed worrying about what you think of them, that they aren’t actually thinking about.
- You engage in negative self-talk. All actions derive from what we tell ourselves on a daily basis. Unhappy people have the habit of telling themselves things like “I don’t know how”, “It’s too hard”, and “I can’t do it”. The key to change is to begin rephrasing these into positive thoughts. It takes practice and you’ll catch yourself being negative many times, but if you want to be a happier person, you have to start making those changes.
- You are a glass half empty person. Being a pessimist is the result of negative habits developed over a number of years. This habit is very hard to kick because it becomes so ingrained in your mind, that itís second nature. In any situation, your first thought or reaction is a negative one. Becoming an optimist will require you to develop new mental skills and retrain your entire thought process to see opportunity instead of struggle. This can be done gradually by consciously looking at your attitude and choosing to see opportunity instead of difficulty.
- You let the past dictate your future. If you happen to have a past riddled with negativity and bad experiences, chances are your personality mirrors this. You can’t change your past and allowing yourself to stay attached to it will only drag you down. Learn to let go of things out of your control and focus on today. What can you accomplish today?
- You are sedentary. It’s a fact that people who exercise regularly are happier than those who don’t. Sitting at a desk all day only to follow it with sitting on your couch is not conducive to being happy. Get up, move around, go outside, take the stairs, take a walk, join the gym, ride your bike. The endorphins released during activity play a big role in your mood, so if you’re not active, get active!
- You are a worry wart. Worrying is a choice like everything else. Most of you are familiar with the worry wart and many of you probably grew up with one in your household. Worry is such a waste of time yet causes so much unhappiness. Worry is nothing but fear and fear is nothing but a bulls**t excuse not to embrace something. Do not waste another minute of your life worrying about things you have no control over. For example, worrying about your plane crashing is an unjustified fear. Statistics show the likelihood of that happening is smaller than being hit by lightning. In either case, you are sacrificing your ability to relax and be happy for something extraneous and out of your control.
- You cannot forgive and forget. Harboring ill feelings towards someone or something is like carrying a 10-pound weight in your pocket. We all have had bad experiences that have left a sour taste in our mouth. Forgiveness is the solution and is an incredibly powerful concept. Maybe you have been wronged or made a terrible decision in your life. Learn from it and move on.
- You are a perfectionist. We all know someone who considers themselves a perfectionist. Maybe it’s even you! Trying to pursue perfection in all that you do may sound like a good thing, but taken too far, can be highly detrimental to your emotional health. Perfectionism can lead to a host of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and chronic unhappiness. Remember that everything can be done better by either you or someone else, but it’s OK if it’s not. Your goal shouldn’t be perfection, but rather improvement and personal growth.
- You define yourself by your job. It’s a fact that more than 70% of us don’t like our jobs. In a society where we tend to view ourselves by what we do for a living rather than who we actually are, it’s a fundamental problem and leads to the inability to separate ourselves from our professions.
Happiness is a choice, but we must first choose to adopt good habits and rid ourselves of bad ones. This takes practice and time, especially if you are a lifelong cynic. If you find yourself guilty of any of the preceding habits, take a hard look at the quality of your life.
You just might want to make a change and choose happiness.