Happiness is what we all aspire to attain throughout our lives, and it is the hottest commodity of the human experience.
We go to great heights to taste, feel, and savor it via multiple avenues. Although we believe we are doing all that we can to bolster our happiness levels, we oftentimes sabotage our joy unknowingly.
I used to be an expert in unhappiness, always searching for reasons to be happy. In my eyes, my life was never worthy of happiness, so I didn’t give myself the permission to experience joy. Nope—not until I was in a new relationship, or had gone on a certain exotic vacation, or could afford a swanky designer handbag. The list goes on.
Interestingly enough, once I went on said vacation or got with the hottie, I immediately jumped to a new pursuit. Nothing could fulfill my extreme thirst for more and more. I was on this continual road to nowhere, because my mentality was one of doubt, ungratefulness, and attachment. I was so blinded by my negative, cloudy lens on life that I didn’t realize how counterproductive my philosophy on happiness truly was.
We most definitely cannot purchase happiness—at least not the authentic, perpetual kind. It comes from within, and if we don’t realize this truth, happiness may always remain as elusive as the farthest galaxy in the universe.
Fortunately, after growing weak from my fruitless formula to happiness, I decided to try a radical, fresh way of viewing my world. I won’t say I do not have instances in which I’ve set conditions on happiness, but I have slowly learned to catch myself in the act before I go down in the dumps. The possibility of everlasting dissatisfaction terrifies every fiber of my being.
Something had to change, or I would never see the light. I doubt that anyone purposely chooses to be unhappy, so it is just a matter of bringing awareness to some of the behaviors we may partake in that can stand in the way of maximizing our happiness. That way, we can make the necessary changes we need in order to undo these common inclinations.
We are all on this journey together, so let’s pour our hearts and souls into being as happy as we can be, regardless of our life circumstances. Throughout my journey of undoing my initial habits, I came across a great deal of roadblocks that were detrimental to my happiness.
Here are seven ways that we might be sabotaging our own happiness:
1. Self-Comparison. When we give fuel to this beast, we are essentially guaranteeing ourselves a seat in the world of unhappiness. In small doses, it is only natural to express curiosity at what other people are all about. However, when this seemingly innocent tendency takes over one’s mind, it can make way for a life clouded with disappointment, restlessness, and any number of ill feelings.
Believe me when I tell you that setting foot into self-comparison mode can be just as destructive as many other addictions. We have the power to stop this common habit from controlling our destiny, my friends. Tap into your own gifts, imperfections, and experiences alike, and fall in love with all of it. There is only one you in the world for a reason, so do not reject yourself. Compare yourself to a brighter, happier you and leave it at that.
2. “Grass is Greener on the Other Side” Mentality. Similar to self-comparison, this is another view we may want to detox out of our lives. If we give ourselves away to this approach, happiness is out of reach, because we will never be in the right place at the right time or able to test out all of the grass in the world. Hence, we will always fall short and wonder about how things could be if we were on another body of grass.
This is a losing battle no matter how fabulous our lives may be. It can truly steal our happiness right out of our hands—not to mention how many amazing experiences and moments will escape us, because we are unhealthily eager about what is outside of ourselves. I have been suffering from this mental trap for years, and I know firsthand how paralyzing it can be. Choose to be right where you are and embrace the magnificence in that.
3. Holding on to Past Regrets. This one is quite the happiness-sucker. It is totally healthy to reminisce on our pasts and draw insight from them—and we obviously cannot pretend that we do not have regrets associated with our pasts, because we are simply being human.
However, with that being said, the past is over, and there is no rewind button we can access that will allow us to make different decisions. Therefore, we have two choices. We can either remain enslaved to bitterness regarding our pasts, or we can trust the life journey we are on, despite the imperfections along the way.
Personally speaking, I have given away so much of my energy to regretting elements of my past, and wondering about what could have been, had I acted differently. Yet, this has proven to be pointless and self-sabotaging. Let’s learn to forgive ourselves for anything that we are still holding on to and place emphasis on our present, real lives. Our pasts are part of us and are therefore worthy of our love.
4. Fighting with our True Nature. Each and every one of us has a unique nature that makes us who we are. One of the most beautiful sights is witnessing someone owning themselves wholeheartedly and accepting themselves just as they are. Happiness is bountiful when we love ourselves and live in accordance to what our minds, bodies, and souls crave.
The potential for unhappiness arises when we enter a boxing match with ourselves and become our own worst enemies. Again, like everything else on this list, I spent most of my teen years and young adulthood hating everything about myself and trying to alter myself accordingly. Once I noticed that I had forgotten what happiness even felt like, I knew I had to begin changing my ways. Remember that there is no way we can exchange ourselves and purchase a new person, so we might as well stop this boxing match before it ruins our lives.
5. Giving Fear Too Much Attention. We oftentimes forget how much influence fear can have on our actions. Fear is an acceptable part of human psychology, and it protects us from a great deal of danger, no doubt. It is understandable to tap in to fear, if and when, we need its assistance in protecting us from less than savvy external situations, such as impending accidents, toxic conflicts, and the like.
We can take advantage of the positive side of fear, so that we don’t become too reckless in our decision making, but it is imperative that we have boundaries with this baby. Without maintaining distance from fear, it can easily spread its wings and conquer our entire lives.
A happy life is one that says yes to new experiences, challenges, and risks. And it feels so much better to know that we didn’t wait behind the veil of fear, allowing it to make decisions on our own behalf. Chances are that there are countless actions we would love to take if we had the guts to do so. What are we waiting for?
6. Inviting Unnecessary Drama into our Lives. Drama is unavoidable if we are breathing! The only time that drama can sabotage our happiness is when we do not have balance in this category. If we find ourselves in toxic friendships, abusive relationships, and/or varying conflicts time and again, we need to realize that we are giving away our vitality to these matters, thereby leaving less room for happiness to take the front seat.
Take a step back and judge whether particular engagements you are partaking in are worth the consequent drama they bring forth. It is really that simple. Life is too short to be spent on people, activities, and thoughts that are harmful to our minds, bodies, and souls in any fashion.
7. Forgetting that Happiness is an Inside Job. Whether we like to admit it or not, true happiness is derived from the inside out, rather than the outside in. It doesn’t matter how much money we have in our bank accounts or what kind of fancy title we have next to our names, because those factors do not necessarily lead to happiness. We can be miserable and rich at the same time, and there are countless examples of such individuals around us.
Happiness cannot be bought with anything from the external world, even though social media begs to differ. Sure, external accomplishments are wonderful in their own right, but we have to be happy internally regardless of what we accrue from outside of ourselves. Balance is key in this department. It can be very easy to fall victim to the mentality that more is better in life, or that there is always the need for constant outward seeking in order to attain happiness.
Let’s focus on being happy for no particular reason at all. Now that is an accomplishment!
Author: Shirin Karimi Tararani
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina