Oftentimes we read about what we can do to increase our happiness through valuable tips, tricks and techniques. I love reading this stuff and noticing the impact it has on my day and my life. Sometimes equally important is identifying what habits we have that negate all of the positive mindset gearing we do.
Here are 11 things many of us are guilty of that sabotage our peace, joy and calm:
1. Hold a grudge
Forgiveness is the key to freedom. As Marianne Williamson says, “Forgiveness is actually out of self-interest.” When we hate, feel anger or resentment towards another, the intended impact, to hurt them, backfires on us. We harbor the anger and resentment within our own minds and bodies. And it’s poisonous. Under Williamson’s advice, try to see a situation differently. How must my enemy have felt to act the way they did? What fear did they feel? What good qualities does this person have that perhaps I have never thought about? I have four sisters, and one of them has not spoken to me in 12 years — despite lots of effort on my part. It made me confused and angry for a long time. My forgiveness way of thinking opened me up to compassion. When I think of her now I do so with love. It takes practice but this does get easier.
2. Give up on our dreams
To me this is the saddest one. As Marie Forleo says, “The world needs that special gift that only you have.” So often we bury our gifts, follow a “safe” path or simply do not have the courage to pursue what it is that we want. This results in a lot of regret later in life and even in the present moment. I heard once that the definition of hell is when the person you are meets the person you could have been. Our inner voice knows when we are not living our truth and this voice does not go away although we do our best to tune it out. By ignoring our dreams we are not sharing our unique gifts with the world.
3. Not make time for what brings us joy
This is aligned with number two. Do you love to write, draw, sing, teach? When we do not make what brings us joy a priority we are often completely unaware of the happiness we could be experiencing. It results is a much less rich, less colorful life.
4. Settle for superficial relationships
Since moving to New York I really noticed this. When making new friends I realized that a lot of time people do not talk about things that really matter, let alone make themselves vulnerable. Whenever I bring up my early divorce or humble upbringing, people tend to open up with me too, as we all secretly want to make a genuine connection with other people. People often tell me, “Its so nice to talk about this stuff.” We don’t realize that connecting with others has nothing to do with our exotic vacations or successful career stories — it is about making a soul connection which often arises from deeper conversations.
Buddha said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Comparison is selective, exaggerated and unreal. We have no idea what is going on in other people’s lives. We may envy their fortune but not know their child is struggling with bullying or that their marriage is falling apart. Instead we should be too busy envying our own good fortune (gratitude, my friends).
6. Value possessions over experiences
Marianne Williamson says in A Return to Love, “Material things are not good or bad, they are just nothing.” We prize possessions so highly when life experiences are so much more meaningful. We often do not make travel, trips to see loved ones, going to our favorite live event, and dinner with an old friend a priority over shopping and collecting things.
7. Tell ourselves life is “good enough”
Truly happy people push themselves. They understand that pushing our boundaries and making progress is rewarding and fun. When was the last time you did something completely new or set the bar higher for yourself?
8. Let fear, not creativity, rule
The next time we make a decision, lets tune in to which part of us it is coming from. The best decisions are always made out of creativity and love. Jack Kornfield says, “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you in better living conditions.”
9. Do not give
At the end of it all, it is not about us! The greatest, most real and rewarding sense of happiness comes from helping others. I know a lawyer who teaches guitar on Sundays to children who cannot afford lessons. He says it is one of his greatest source of happiness. To me, this is the most beautiful thing about the world — that giving of ourselves creates the most joy.
Brene Brown says in her famous Ted Talk that, “The USA is the most medicated, in debt, addicted and obese nation in the world.” All of these things offer temporary satisfaction but in the longer term make us depressed. We are looking for joy outside of ourselves. Joy and peace come from within.
11. Fail to live in the moment!
We are so busy worrying about what will be in the future or living in the past. True joy, peace and contentment come from being alive and present in the current moment. It is all we have and it is all there really is.