4 Mental Habits that Steal Happiness
Ask any group of people what their main goal in life is and chances are they’ll tell you it’s happiness.
Ask them to define happiness, and they’ll probably all give you different answers.
“Happiness” is something we say we want, simply because we have no easier way to describe all of our goals, dreams, and plans. We want things to go good, we want things to go smoothly. Happiness is also something that we’re constantly searching for, even though the concept seems pretty simple.
Whatever gave us that idea? The idea that being happy is something that has to be achieved, or earned?
Truth is, happiness is created. By you, by me. I’m happy when I come home and get to cuddle with my dog. I’m happy when I get to spend time with people I love; when I get to do things I enjoy doing. Just as we create happiness by doing all the things we love and enjoy, there are some things we often do, that steal that happiness. Things that make us feel sad, uninspired or lost.
They’re mental habits that steal happiness. Habits that often clip your wings.
4 MENTAL HABITS THAT STEAL HAPPINESS
Those of us who were lucky enough to grow up before the rise of social media, know that comparing yourself to others (your achievements or life in general) isn’t anything new. There was always that one person in school who did better than you, friends who spent their summers at language camps abroad, while you were stuck at your grandparents’ house, babysitting your little sister. There were kids who were better at sports, had fancier clothes or parents who weren’t as strict as yours.
Of course, playing the comparison game is much easier these days- all you have to do is reach for your phone and launch Instagram. It’s easier to notice just how different we, and our lives/lifestyles are. I mean, the categories upon which we can compare ourselves to others, are countless. Comparing yourself to others is one of the worst of these mental habits that steal happiness. Mostly, it’s because it’s something so easy to do, yet so hard to break.
Comparison steals your joy and here’s how: it’s always unfair.
Whenever you compare yourself to others, you’re never being fair to yourself. You look past your own achievements and even if you think that some things in your life are “okay”, you’re guessing that someone else’s must be better.
How do we know that?
We guess. We often don’t see the whole picture, so we fill in those blanks ourselves.
So, we assume.
Here’s something to remember: comparisons add no value to your life. Instead, try practicing appreciation. I know that it’s not always easy, but when you see someone doing something you’ve always dreamed of, or achieving goals similar to yours, think of it as proof. Proof, that it can be done. Let that inspire you instead of feeling discouraged.
FOCUSING ON THINGS YOU DON’T WANT
I write a lot about having a positive mindset, staying present, mindful. Here’s a little secret though: I was born a pessimist. Yup. I’ve always been a worrier. My mind had always jumped to the “worst-case scenario” and the majority of the time, I’d focus on things I didn’t want; things that often created fear and anxiety. It wasn’t until I began looking into self-improvement and things like mindfulness that I realized I was miserable.
Yes. I had dreams and goals. Yet, I never really talked about them.
I spent most of my time talking and thinking about things I didn’t want- this involved a lot of “what ifs” and “I probably shoulds.” I came to this sudden realization that it was one of those mental habits that steal happiness. Things I chose to focus on, things I constantly thought and talked about, were not exactly aligned with my goals or dreams.
As soon as that realization hit me, I noticed that many people around me tended to do the same thing: we all talked about things we didn’t want to happen to us, constantly. Something unfortunate happened to someone we all knew? We talked about it: “Can you imagine that happening to you? I’m getting nervous just thinking about it!” Something great happened to someone else? We talked about it: “Good for them, it must be nice. Too bad it’s never going to be me, some people are just lucky, I guess.” I noticed just how much negativity was surrounding me, and it really started to bother me.
So, I made a change. It doesn’t mean that I don’t worry or experience fear anymore- if recent weeks taught me anything, it’s that worry is still very much a part of my life. BUT I do make a conscious effort to guard my speech. I don’t put my energy into things that bring fear, worry or anxiety. I talk about things that I love, things that I think are beautiful and inspiring.
CARING WHAT OTHERS THINK
There comes a point where you just run out of fucks to give.
To me, that point came when I realized that most of the things I’m being judged for are the things that make me happy. Like being with my husband, who’s older than me, which at this point isn’t a big deal, but when I was much younger I was told by many well-wishers that “an older boy will break your heart” or “but what do you two have in common? This won’t last, don’t waste your time.” We’ve been together for almost 11 years now and my heart is doing well, thank you. Although, it does break a little every time I hear “do we REALLY have to watch Harry Potter again?” whenever I suggest it on a rainy weekend.
I think that a lot of us are people-pleasers and that, can be a burden. It’s natural to want to be liked, but if this is something you struggle with, remember this:
-people don’t really care as much as you think they do
-you’ll never be able to please everyone, no matter how hard you try
There are far better and important things to worry about in life, than the opinions of other people.
One of the best ways of conquering that fear of judgment is putting yourself out there. Do things that are out of your comfort zone. Make a change if that’s what you think you need. Go see a movie by yourself, travel alone. Start a blog, find a new hobby- put yourself out there. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable and be whoever you want to be, not who the world is telling you to be.
RELIVING YOUR PAST
In my personal experience, people do it mostly for these two reasons: their past was either much better or much worse than their present lives. Truth is, in both instances, this mindset is limiting. Whether you believe that your past was so good that present can’t compare, or that your past created current circumstances, which prohibit you from reaching certain goals or dreams- you’re focusing on your limits. Letting go isn’t always easy, but it can also be one of the most courageous, liberating things you can do for yourself.
ShellJuly 28, 2017 at 8:24 pm
I’ve got issues in all of these areas, but one area that I think I’ve improved upon as I’ve got older is caring less about what others think. I won’t lie, it’s an area I still struggle with from time to time (especially with my mental health + the long-held hang-up of wanting people to like me – not sure where it stems from, but it’s been an issue that’s plagued me right throughout life), but the way I see it now is that not everyone will like me for whatever reason & the more comfortable I am with that, the better I’ll be. It does take effort & that effort can be exhausting, but the rewards are personally sweet.
Shell // The Novice Life
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 6, 2017 at 9:15 am
I think that some of these definitely improve as we get older. I have a few of these irrational fears myself and also don’t always realize where they come from, but I think that once you realize that you can’t possibly please or “win” everyone, you can find some peace and feel a bit more comfortable :)
JanetJuly 29, 2017 at 12:44 am
very smart. I so needed this today, Paula!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 6, 2017 at 9:16 am
Thank you, Janet!
Samantha FrancesJuly 29, 2017 at 12:07 pm
I think I’m pretty good at not caring about what others think, but I reeeeeally struggle with living in the past oh my goodness! I’m very sentimental so I find myself always looking back at old pictures and reliving old memories, which I do enjoy, but more often than not I just find myself thinking how great life used to be and comparing that to how it is now. When you’re already in a crappy place and then you add how great things used to be into the mix, it becomes difficult to pull yourself out! I constantly compare myself to the girl I used to be and it offers no help whatsoever. It’s really something I need to work on! Brilliant post as always <3 xxx
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 6, 2017 at 9:19 am
Aww I’m a bit like this too, although I’m in a much better place than I was years ago and can’t imagine going back to the way my life used to be. But I am very sentimental. I do get what you’re saying though- when things don’t go too well, it’s easy to get stuck in that mindset. I find that staying busy, reading books on personal development or picking up a new skill helps out a bit when feeling a little stuck. Thank you so much Samantha!
Paula LoretiJuly 29, 2017 at 12:14 pm
It’s incredible (sad) that I do all of the things that you wrote! It’s super hard to let go of those things but your tips were really helpful and I think they are going to help me a lot if I put them on practice
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 6, 2017 at 9:20 am
It definitely isn’t easy, but so worth the effort! :)
Devynne HadleyJuly 29, 2017 at 7:44 pm
Mindsets are so so powerful. Love this post <33
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 6, 2017 at 9:20 am
Thank you Devynne!
Aleksandra // bunniesaremagicJuly 30, 2017 at 10:46 am
Living in the past is the one on this list I sinned with the longers – as it was the hardest one for me to let go. But now that I am finally back in the now, I just feel so much… more complete? Correct? I don’t even have a good word for it!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 6, 2017 at 9:22 am
I know the feeling you’re describing! I think sometimes when you spend a lot of your time
“in the past” you lose yourself a bit.
Linda Libra LocaJuly 30, 2017 at 3:26 pm
I didn´t know your husband was that much older than you are. Now I don´t think you need any consolation, but my parents are ten years apart, happily married for almost 40 years now and still my relationship goal.
Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 6, 2017 at 9:24 am
We’re ten years apart, too :) That’s amazing- kind of crazy to think that we’re 1/4 way there already haha :)
LaurenJuly 31, 2017 at 5:17 pm
The last two are very true! I’m slowly learning not to care what others think and I feel a lot better for it.
Lauren x Huggled
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 6, 2017 at 9:24 am
It’s definitely a very freeing thing :)
The Sunday ModeAugust 1, 2017 at 10:34 am
Another awesome post Paula and uplifting as hell like always, I especially love the idea of thinking of comparisons as proof as well :)
Julia // The Sunday Mode
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 6, 2017 at 9:25 am
Thank you so much, Julia!!
SincerelySarahAugust 8, 2017 at 6:20 pm
Great post, Paula. Comparison really is the thief of joy but is unfortunately, human nature. We (as a society) tend to focus on comparison as a critical exercise when actually it could be comparing positives! Completely get what you’re saying. Really liked the post x
Sincerely, Sarah xx
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 28, 2017 at 11:56 am
Thank you so much, Sarah. It’s definitely something that comes very natural to us, unfortunately.