For many people, happiness seems more like a dream than a reality. But even though it's difficult for most of us to be happy 24/7, you could still be preventing yourself from being happy without even realizing. It's often easy to blame external factors, but at the end of the day the only person who has true control over your happiness is you.
"When people are depressed, it can become a way of life. They can believe it is part of who they are, and that they are not capable of feeling any other way. They have to learn that there is help available, and there are tools and techniques to help them lift their mood. People have made being unhappy part of who they are, so they need to learn a new part of themselves that is positive to replace it," says psychologist Nicole Martinez Psy.D., LCPC, in an interview with Bustle over email.
It can be tough to attempt to change your outlook on life, but if it's going to turn things around in a positive way, then it's worth it, right? If you're not content with the current state of your life, and you're not sure why, here are 11 ways you may be preventing yourself from being happy.
1. You're Comparing Yourself To Others
You're never going to be happy if you're viewing yourself in a negative way, especially if you're comparing yourself to other people. "Constant comparisons to other [people] — and the seemingly happy lives they live — is one of the most noxious sources of unhappiness for people. This is getting worse and worse as social media channels become more and more a part of our lives. [Social media apps] give us windows into all of the ways in which others are 'winning' — with awards on display, marriages, and all other accolades and trophies [people] tend to boast about. The main thing to remember is that this is an illusion. In general, we put our wins on display, not our 'failures' or all of the muscle and sweat that goes into each of those wins. So you're comparing yourself to something that isn't even real. Stop ingesting so much social media, and focus [on] figuring out what really gives you joy and meaning in life, and spend your time ingesting more of that," says holistic wellness coach Pax Tandon in an interview with Bustle over email.
2. You're Not Practicing Mindfulness
"When we turn inward, clear our minds and focus on our breath, we are able to let all of the 'noise' evaporate so we can attune to the essence of ourselves. This essence is one of pure joy and presence to our lives. The more you practice, the more adept you become at staying present and attuned to this essence," says Tandon. Practicing mindfulness can give you an extra boost of positivity. It normally centers your thoughts and allows you to see the big picture.
3. You're Being Too Hard On Yourself
Sometimes it can be easy to be your own worst enemy, but you prevent yourself from being happy when you constantly criticize yourself. "We place such heavy expectations on ourselves, to succeed, to be 'perfect,' to 'win.' The real win in being human is actually simply to recognize what a miracle it is to be alive, and how an important and standard part of being human is to feel pain. We have all of these illusions of what will make us happy — more money, success, and things — but research shows time and again these fail to make us happy. Our connections with others, our ability to give back and volunteer, and a sense of purpose, are the real markers of happiness," says Tandon.
4. You Remove Yourself From Positive Situations
"[You] isolate and remove [yourself] from others who might attempt to make [you] enjoy [yourself] or lift [your] mood," says Martinez. While you think you just need some time to yourself, this thought process can actually hinder you from enjoying life. Rather than having a party of one, opt for a girls' night at your house and order pizza (because pizza solves everything).
5. You See The Negative In Every Situation
"[You] see the negative in every possible situation. [You] refute any positive thoughts and comments that others try to make to [you]," says Martinez. How can your life get better if you have a pessimistic outlook on life? Try to see the world through rose-colored glasses to stop yourself from expecting the worst in every possible scenario.
6. You're Staying In Your Comfort Zone
While crawling underneath the covers with a messy bun sounds like the perfect night in, it may be the opposite of what you need when you don't feel 100 percent. "When [you're] down and unhappy, [your] depression tells [you] to do the exact opposite of what [you] need to be doing. It tells [you] to isolate, stay in bed, binge eat, [and] avoid the people and activities [you] enjoy. The fact of the matter is that [you] did the opposite of what [your] mind was telling [you] to do; [your] mood would more than likely lift itself," says Martinez.
7. You're Constantly Complaining
"[You] constantly complain about all aspects of [your] job, but [you] take no action to change it. Whether it's trying to form your position to meet your needs and interests, talking candidly about what you need, or looking for something that is a better fit; any of these actions are positive and will improve your situation and mood," says Martinez. While complaining can help you release stress, it can get annoying to constantly complain about the same thing over and over. This tends to happen a lot when it comes to people's careers. They complain about their job and how it makes them unhappy, but they're afraid of making any changes.
8. You Are Always The Victim
Blaming your problems on everyone/everything else is not going to make your life better. You know what is? Figuring out what's causing you to be unhappy and fixing it. Remember: You're in charge of your own happiness. "[You] feel comfortable in [your] victim role, and even if [you] have an opportunity to do better, don't feel comfortable unless [you're] complaining and feeling miserable. It's what [you] know. [You] spend time with people who put [you] down and help [you] to sabotage [your] efforts at achieving happiness," says psychotherapist and author of Your Best Age is Now Robi Ludwig in an interview with Bustle over email.
9. You're Not Willing To Work Out Your Problems
You need to face your problems head on so you can stop them from getting out of control. Don't settle for a lackluster life because you think your problems will solve themselves. "[You] have not worked through [your] emotional baggage and feel more comfortable staying stuck and miserable, because it's a feeling [you] know and/or feel comfortable with. It's [your] status quo," says Ludwig.
10. You're Constantly Making Excuses
"[You] give up on [yourself] and what [you] want to do because [you] don't have the confidence to make it happen for [yourself] and or [you] make excuses for why it can't happen for [yourself]," says Ludwig. Your life is most likely not going to change for the better if you're constantly making excuses. Doing this, along with complaining, may keep you from being successful and happy.
11. You're Doing Things Based On Other People's Happiness
Putting others' happiness before your own can hinder you from enjoying life. Focusing on making sure your loved one's needs are being met may make you forget to satisfy your own needs. "[You] choose a career based on what others think [you] should do instead of what [you] want to do. [You] don't listen to [your] soul when it comes to choosing the right profession for [yourself]," says Ludwig.
As long as you remember that your happiness comes from within, then everything should be fine. Don't be afraid to make a change because it's something different than what you're used to. Take charge of your life, so you can be happy again.
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