There are 10 things we all do almost every day to sabotage our own happiness.
It is indeed the human way to get in our own way. Think about it: so much of what we do and don’t do keeps us from feeling content and satisfied. Having a happy heart and an open mind means we are winning at life.
When we can recognize the following ways we goal-tend our own happiness, we can begin to change our behaviors and habits so that we can win at life and stop sabotaging our happiness.
1. We procrastinate:
Many of us are all talk, no action. Especially when it comes to personal goals and what we really want out of life. What are your dreams and aspirations? Do you want to hike the Appalachian Trail or become the lead singer in a band? What is it that you’ve always wanted to try, do, see, explore?
We all have dreams and desires, but many of us take little or no action to get there. We procrastinate because we think we always have more time. The reality is, we have plenty of time, but boy does it fly by. We wake up one day, realize we are about to turn 50 and panic because we thought we had Way More Time to follow our dreams—but procrastinated and squandered it away instead. Happiness requires action, even if it’s difficult or if we are unsure.
“The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step.” ~ Laozi
2. We stay indoors:
We stay inside when it’s perfectly beautiful outside. We look out our windows at the sunshine, and yet, somehow have to come up with a reason to go outside. We should not need a reason to get outside. Staying inside blocks happiness because it keeps the light from hitting our face, the sun from warming our soul, and the crisp, cool air from entering our lungs. Inside is boring. Get outside as often as possible and watch how your mood changes.
“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
3. We let our junk and our chores pile up:
What’s up with the endless, needless junk? Why do we keep so much stuff? For what—so we can look at it? Having too much clutter in and around our homes clutters up our minds as well. When we purge the junk from every room in our house, we clear the path for happiness.
If an item doesn’t serve us in some way, we need to kick it to the curb. In the same regard, when we tick chores off our list, we can move on to brighter things. When we keep a tidy home, and chores are complete, we often feel the sense of serenity that cannot (and will not) come from anywhere else.
“Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.” ~ Christina Scalise
4. We watch too much reality television:
We watch other people living their lives instead of living our own authentic lives. We are entertained by other people’s arguments, problems, and day to day activity. We watch people go out to eat, we watch them drink and smoke, we watch them get into fist fights and yell expletives. We watch them sit around the house and complain about problems that are not problems. We watch them do everything except go to work. We get wrapped up in these shows the same way we became wrapped up in the soap operas of the 70s.
When we lose ourselves in someone else’s version of reality, we do not confront our own reality. It’s a guilty pleasure like candy, food, drugs, and alcohol, but too much of that sh*t is bad for us.
“Watching too much television can triple our hunger for more possessions, while reducing our personal contentment by about 5 percent for every hour a day we watch.” ~ David Niven
5. We live in the future and in the past:
We pine nostalgically for the old days, or we keep thinking that tomorrow will be different. We often forget that the only living we need to do is in the present moment. Wishing we could change the past has never, in the history of humankind, changed the past. And while it’s good to think about the future in a positive way, the future has a funny way of unfolding based on the things we do in the present. Or, it’s completely unpredictable so there’s no sense getting caught up in what tomorrow will bring.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” ~ Gautama Buddha
6. Too much yes and not enough no:
All too often we are stretched to our limits—physically, mentally, at work, at home, and in many of our relationships. A lot of the time, this cannot be helped, but if we consciously recognize when we are being pulled out and spread thin, we can say no to what doesn’t serve our inner spirit. When we start serving our inner spirit, we make our own happiness a priority instead of pleasing other people in order to gain friendship or garner praise.
“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” ~ Paulo Coelho
7. Frivolous Spending:
Money comes in, money goes out. We know where it comes from, but where does it all go? Much of the time we buy an abundance of items we just do not need. We buy clothes, new phones, new dishes, and freakin’ beaded pillows from Home Goods, and then we stop at TJ Maxx, where we get the maxx for the minimum. And it’s a rush because it’s all fun stuff we don’t need.
Most of it is just stuff we buy because we like the way it looks. We think it will make us happy. We are lured in by gimmicks and marketing and pretty packaging. No one needs a roll up jewelry organizer. No one needs another pair of running pants. When we decide what we need over what we want, we decide that happiness doesn’t come from stuff. Stuff can be fun, but too much stuff blocks our pathway to happiness.
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” ~ Dave Ramsey
8. We Gossip:
Who doesn’t? It’s easy to poke fun at other people here and there. It’s especially easy to do it behind their backs. We roll our eyes and act like the other person’s behavior (or outfit, Facebook post, or hair color) doesn’t scare the sh*t out of us because we know that it’s so much like our own. “Did you see her in that dress?” Cue the eye roll. Cue the sigh and the nervous giggle. Meanwhile, we would love to wear that dress, if only we could feel as confident as she seems to feel.
It’s always important to remember that our own fears, insecurities and misgivings guide gossip. Before pointing out the flaws of others, we must indeed remember to practice kindness. To keep our hearts “pure,” exchange kindness for gossip (even if we think it’s harmless) when the opportunity presents itself.
“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
9. We Compare ourselves to others:
Our house is small and your house is big. We drive old cars, while yours are always new. She can run a 5K in under 25 minutes, while I can barely break 28. Someone will always have more, and someone will always run faster. Someone else’s kid will go to Harvard. That’s just the way it goes. Should we wallow in comparisons or should we concentrate on bettering ourselves and our circumstances? When we are happy with ourselves and we know that what we have is enough, we can rejoice when good things happen to other people.
“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world, if you do so you are insulting yourself.” ~ Bill Gates
10. We prioritize things that don’t matter:
We all get 24 hours a day (hopefully) to do the things that are most important to us. Many things we say we want to prioritize get pushed to the back of the list by other, less worthy things. For example, we say we want to exercise and eat healthier, but it is often easy to make excuses. We let our excuses overrule our intended priorities. Therefore, exercise and healthier eating are not priorities after all.
Other examples may include spending time with our kids, or paying off debt. We lose focus when we pay more attention to our cell phones, or we buy impulsively. Our cell phones and our accumulated stuff become the priorities instead of our kids or our finances.
When we reevaluate our daily habits we often see how excuses and detrimental behaviors contribute to keeping us from what is really important, hence keeping us from contentment and peace in our lives.
“There’s no sense talking about priorities. Priorities reveal themselves. We are all transparent against the face of the clock.” ~ Eric Zorn
When we consistently block our own happiness by engaging in these practices, we are essentially blocking our own lives. Human beings are meant to live earnestly and well. We are meant to find joy in the endless possibilities of each new day, and to savor the time we’ve been given.
We need to get up, get outside, get away from the television, keep our wallets in our pockets, keep harmful words from leaving our mouths, and prioritize what matters.
“The clearest path to happiness emerges when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
How to be happy from a Buddhist perspective:
Author: Kimberly Valzania
Apprentice Editor: Corinne Milentijevic / Editor: Catherine Monkman