May 6, 2024

10 Happiness Blockers to Avoid.


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“Do what makes you happy!”

This expression is hanging up just above the desk in my office.

It’s a pretty, decorative thing—a handmade, painted sign on an old barn wood plank, made by a local artist with a penchant for curlicue writing and vintage color combinations. It’s something I’ve had “forever” that hasn’t landed in the donation pile yet.

I question, though, what makes me truly happy. I’ve asked this question my whole life. Good friends? Sure. Feeling secure? Absolutely. Time to do some of the things I love like writing and gardening? Right-O! I have a happy life, no doubt, and I’m grateful for it. But what makes me happy?

Over the years, I’ve become much better at savoring moments and being present instead of wishing for the future, but there are some things I can work on. The sign in my office leads me to focus on recognizing and improving my social foibles. I believe how we “are” as human beings is what ultimately makes us happy. Self-awareness helps us grow. Growth in all realms leads us to the contentment we seek.

No one is perfect, but perhaps happiness is direct result of knowing what blocks it. What are “happiness blockers” and how can we avoid them?

Here are the 10 I can work on, and I bet you can work on them too:

1. Jumping out of our lane. I do this often. If a conversations is within earshot, I chime in without solicitation. I’ll add my own story (story topping) or I’ll act like a “know-it-all” and offer an opinion. This is obnoxious (sometimes!). There’s a fine line between harmless interaction and lane jumping. My awareness leads me to stay silent most of the time, unless I’m asked a direct question.

2. Armchair quarterbacking. Instead of allowing others to figure things out for themselves, I’ll add unsolicited direction and problem-solve it for them. When friends tell me their problems, I’m quick to offer solutions. Again, unless I’m being asked for advice, I stay quiet. It’s not my job to fix anything without consent.

3. Procrastinating. We wait and wait (and wait) to do the things we must do. We also wait to do the things we actually want to do. Why? “Seizing the moment” brings with it the joy of completion. “Saving the moment” does the exact opposite. What are we saving it for? Keeping things on our “to do someday” list is a spinning wheel and it means we don’t really want it; we just like the idea of it.

4. Hopping aboard the judgement train. We often judge (consciously, unconsciously) before we know someone’s full story or circumstances. We size things up based on appearance or the few details we actually have. Doing this consciously serves no purpose as it is ignorance on display. Doing it unconsciously is something we can change. If we are open to changing this about ourselves, the world opens a bit and our social circle expands.

5. Consistently not getting enough sleep. Need I say more? Whether it’s sleep issues, or not sticking to a healthy bedtime routine, our lack of sleep keeps us chronically foggy, which is an unhappy state most of the time.

6. Not socializing for “real.” We use social media to do our talking. We interact via reactions to photos. We encourage with our thumbs up and our hearts. We ignore when we scroll past. We offer “tidbits” of feedback with our eyes or our hands. This is kind of cold, don’t you think? When I think of “happy,” I think “warm,” and this isn’t it.

7. Knee-jerk responding. I know I am “too quick” to text back or call with a response. When friends reach out, I feel compelled to answer right away. I often do not take a breath or a beat before rattling something off. It’s okay to take a bit of time (not too long though) to reply to questions. It’s also “okay” to say, “Let me give it some thought and get back to you.” This gives us the reflective time we need for processing before being pulled in to a conversation we are not ready to have, or decision we are not prepared to make.

8. Rushing around. Literal “rushing” is never a good feeling. Putting too much on our plates for the day without rest blocks our happiness. It’s one thing to be productive and get things done. It’s not good to feel stretched too thin. Doing too much has us playing catch-up with our own time.

9. Ruminating. What could have been instead of what was! Why did I say that? I wish I did things differently! The list of ruminations going through our brains on a daily basis clogs our minds and stifles our happy souls. It’s always best to move on from our past (the good and bad alike) because moving on keeps us moving forward. As the saying goes, “Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere.”

10. Rose-colored glasses. While it’s true that some of us focus too much on the “bad,” it’s not that great to always see things as bright and sunny either. Positive vibes only is pain avoidance. We grow through what we go through…and happiness is the result of resolution. Facing and solving our challenges is a way to feel stronger in life, thus creating contentment.

Do what makes you happy! Well then, what makes you happy?

Avoiding the “blockers” is a good place to start.


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