We are all constantly in pursuit of happiness. Every day we make choices in life that affect how we feel and think about ourselves. We usually believe we are making good decisions that will bring us closer to a state of well-being. We naturally seek to avoid fear and create a comfortable life.
The only problem is that sometimes the choices we make actually increase our anxiety and despair. We fall into bad habits that hurt us and destroy our chances of finding lasting contentment.
You can stop the negative cycle and begin taking back your happiness by quashing these 10 horrible habits.
1Constantly comparing yourself with others
The temptation to compare ourselves to others is almost overwhelming. However, constantly comparing ourselves to others will result in dissatisfaction with our own lives.
It’s easy to look at someone else and think that they have the perfect career, the happiest relationships, make more money or seem more attractive. But comparisons are never fair, because we are all unique human beings, with our own talents, fears, passions and traits. We have vastly different life experiences, desires and goals.
When comparing yourself with others, try to balance your perception. Remind yourself that we are all human. No one is perfect. We are all just striving to put our best face forward.
2Not appreciating what you have
No matter what your circumstances in life, you have so much to be grateful for. Every day you draw breath is an opportunity to work toward your goals, serve others and find all the little joys in life. When we are ungrateful we dismiss the importance and value of all that we have.
Gratitude changes your life. Being thankful shifts your focus away from what you don’t have toward how full and wonderful your life truly is.
No matter how successful you are, unless you take time to count your blessings you will never feel you have enough. Gratitude reduces stress, brings peace of mind and makes you more resilient and caring.
3Letting fear or hate control you
Our brains are hardwired to warn us of real danger and keep us safe, but fear and anxiety can paralyse us. Fear of failure is a barrier to pursuing our dreams. Fear of putting ourselves “out there” influences the choices we’re willing to make in life.
The same goes for hate. Allowing ourselves to be consumed by anger just mires us in cynicism and animosity. Difficult experiences can fill you with pain, but making decisions based on hate steals your ability to focus on what really matters to you. Hate bleeds you of your happiness.
Stop holding on to your fear and your hate.
A meditation practice and journaling help you let go of those emotions. Take time to reflect on your actions and how you treat others. Don’t let hostility creep into your life.
4Focusing on the past or the future
If your consciousness is dominated by the past or focused on the future, you’re likely to miss experiences and opportunities right in front of you. You must live in the present to be engaged with where you are and who you’re with. Otherwise, without even realizing it, you are letting life pass you.
Dwelling on the past usually means unresolved issues are weighing you down. Focusing entirely on the future usually means that you have anxiety about what is to come and your ability to handle it. Research shows that those who stay focused on the present are happier and feel more connected to others. Practice mindfulness by focusing your consciousness on the present moment.
Related: The Pursuit Of Happiness
5Trying to control what you can’t
It is frustrating to spend a great deal of time and effort making plans, only to discover life has taken you on an entirely different path. “This isn’t how things are supposed to go,” you tell yourself. It seems so unfair, because you had it all worked out.
Control freaks take note: The best thing you can do for yourself is realize you aren’t always in the driver’s seat. You can spend all your time and energy trying to come up with the perfect way to plan and predict the world around you, but things aren’t always going to go your way. You have to learn to let go.
Too often our desire to control everything is rooted in anxiety and fear – we believe the worst will happen if we aren’t behind the wheel. At a certain point you are just fighting the universe and making yourself extremely unhappy. Instead of trying to control every detail, allow life to unfold naturally. Feel the freedom that comes from loosening your grip on what you have no control over.
6Getting caught in the blame game
Constantly blaming people for your problems or circumstances is a destructive habit that will hurt you and those around you. When we blame others, we relinquish accountability for our own feelings and actions. We shift responsibility to someone else because we don’t want it to be our fault. It’s a way of explaining to ourselves why something has gone wrong that we think will make us feel better.
We think by making someone else responsible, regret and remorse will be lifted from our shoulders. In reality, we are always liable for our own actions and good communication isn’t a one-way street. No one else can make us do something, and no one else can take responsibility for it.
7Fixating on your possessions
That awesome new car you are coveting will never love you back. That great new couch or expensive watch won’t bring you a sense of belonging or fulfillment. It will add to stress and anxiety if your budget is tight or you are already struggling to pay off credit cards.
When you concentrate your life around money and material things, you lose sight of what truly makes you happy. People. Experiences. Pursuing your dreams and desires. Love and joy. Money helps us take care of ourselves and others, but when we focus entirely on wealth or amassing riches, we forget the importance of what’s in our heart and soul, the things that bring us comfort and cheer. Seek a balance in life, and recognise that wealth cannot buy happiness. That is something that must come from within.
8Surrounding yourself with toxic people
Bad relationships with toxic people steal your happiness. Negative people suck the joy from life. If you’re not careful, their pessimistic mentality will seep into your mindset. The sad reality is, toxic people don’t care about you and never will, no matter how hard you try to impress them.
You need to be wary of those who constantly negate your opinions, who only turn up when they need something or who don’t respect your boundaries or wishes. These are the types of people who don’t know how to have a healthy relationship with others.
Don’t let bad relationships continue to hurt you or bring you down. Be assertive and confident in who you are. You deserve to be around people who treat you with respect and kindness.
9Letting procrastination wither your ambition
We all, from time to time, put off the task we dread or invent excuses to explain why we haven’t done something we agreed to do. But habitual procrastination does real damage to your long-term happiness. By procrastinating, you are losing precious time and energy that you could be using to pursue your goals and dreams.
When you look back, will you feel frustrated and annoyed at how you spent your time? Was there value and purpose to your days? Or did you let important opportunities slip through your fingers? Don’t wait until it’s too late. Begin today.
10Being your own worst critic
We believe we must set high expectations and be hard on ourselves when we fall short. After all, self-criticism is necessary to identify your flaws and perfect your craft. There is some truth to the importance of being self-aware of areas that you need to work on. A bloated ego will get you nowhere fast. But constantly beating yourself up or putting yourself down isn’t helpful either. Negative self-talk will only hurt you and keep you from realizing true happiness.
The key is to examine the reasons you’re so harsh on yourself. Are you truly disappointed because you know you can do better? Or do the opinions, desires and assessments of other people have undo influence on you? Are you torturing yourself because you’re afraid of letting other people down or because of what others will think of you?
Take time to connect to the real you. What do you really want? Who do you want to be? What are your passions, likes and dislikes? You must find the way to be yourself and appreciate and love who you are. Put aside the negative dialogue that runs in your head in favor of constructive criticism. Remember to be kind to yourself as well as others: that’s the road to true happiness.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
9 Reliable Ways To Cultivate Creative Thinking
Some people are naturally creative. Everyone else can cultivate creativity.
The benefits of creative thinking are enumerable. Having this skillset will enable you to tackle problems with unique perspectives, come up with special ideas and, overall, be a more effective performer.
One challenge to becoming more creative is the difficulty of quantifying creativity. It is much easier to learn and subsequently demonstrate skills in software engineering, for example. That being said, companies and people are drawn toward creative thinkers. The more that those around you listen to your opinion and the more frequently you propose unique ideas, the higher an indication of these skills. Therefore, over time, you can gauge progress based on how others respond to you and your work.
The other challenge, though, is that sometimes others will not recognise your creativity. They might shoot down an awesome idea because it sounds crazy unconventional. Understanding this and learning to navigate it will keep your confidence levels high so that you can continue to grow.
With these perspectives in mind around quantifying creativity, here are nine guaranteed ways that you can become a more creative thinker to better tackle your life and problems:
People have chronicled years of their work or life experiences into books. Knowing more and having different perspectives will help you become more creative. You will be able to take others’ ideas, pieces of knowledge and individual experiences and apply them to your present situations. Reading is one of the best ways to pick up this knowledge and empathy.
It is easy to make excuses for not having enough time to read but if you make reading a priority, you will be able to find the time and undoubtedly become more creative.
Related: Creative Thinking 101
2. Pick up an art
Having some sort of artistic outlet in your life will dramatically help with creativity levels. Albert Einstein came up with many of his famous revelations while playing the violin.
In the book Originals, Adam Grant – a researcher and professor at Wharton – found that “Nobel Prize-winners are twice as likely to play a musical instrument, they’re seven times as likely to draw or paint, 12 times as likely to write fiction or poetry, and… 22 times as likely as their peers to perform as actors, dancers, or, yes, magicians.”
Whether it be an instrument, drawing, acting or anything else, finding an artistic outlet will fire different parts of your brain. Those spark serenity and a stillness that will make you a more creative person.
3. Surround yourself with a wider range of personalities
Empathy is a huge key to creativity. Most people surround themselves with others who are similar to them. While doing so is comfortable, it is not beneficial when working toward creativity.
There are others within your vicinity who have lived dramatically different lives. Meeting them, understanding their backgrounds and learning how they think will widen your perspective about the world. That will, in turn, increase the creative vigor you can take through life.
4. Spend more time in nature
Being outdoors also sparks creativity. Escaping from the stresses and routine of life, even for brief periods, can get your head out of a rut. Finding short times to be outside throughout your week will give you a chance to get away from all of the technology and noise in our daily lives. Plus, it is an excuse to go have fun and explore.
Mental stillness allows you to eliminate many of the thoughts that constantly ruminate in your head. When you are always thinking about a past or future event, for instance, it takes your mind away from tackling the current situation. Meditation is a great way to develop this stillness.
With a meditation practice you can learn to let your mind be entirely in the present situation. Doing so will allow you to exert more concentrated effort on the tasks at hand. You can pull in more knowledge from different parts of your brain. Consequently, you will be more creative in each moment.
6. Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep can kill creativity. Although we feel the urge to always be on the move, when we are tired, we are not able to use as much of our brain. Plus, exhaustion makes it harder to retain information upon learning it. Therefore, with less sleep, we learn less that we can apply to situations and we cannot perform as effectively on any given task. Making sleep a priority will help your creativity, without a doubt.
Feeling healthy is a great way to have more confidence throughout our days. This confidence often leads to less worrying and more mental energy being exerted at the task at hand. Plus, while actually working out, people tend to be hyper-present. This might trigger an idea or a thought you had not considered before.
8. Do more of what you love
There is a correlation between happiness and creativity. The better that our spirits are, the higher functioning we act on a daily basis. Subsequently, a great way to increase happiness levels is to do what you love. This could be hobbies, spending time with loved ones or anything else.
Additionally, when doing what we love, we tend to be in a very present state. Some have called this state ‘flow.’ As mentioned above, being in a present state pays large dividends toward creativity. Not to mention that doing what you love might spark additional ideas and help you find new interests where you can be creative.
9. Take more risks
Taking risks will boost creativity by giving you a larger set of life events. When you have experienced more things, you will be able to apply those memories and lessons to each new situation that you are in. While you can do more in life without taking risks, fear is often an inhibitor toward trying something new. Therefore, be open to taking more chances. By going out of your comfort zone and doing what others might be unwilling to do, you will develop a deeper breadth of memories and past experiences that you can apply to new problems.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
3 Wonderfully Uncommon Reasons To Form Better Habits
As we race away into 2018, consider these very personal and fundamental bonuses to making and sticking to your resolutions.
Eat healthier. Exercise more. Be more productive. Read faster. Be friendlier. Sleep better.
Welcome to the New Year, a time when people set resolutions to form better habits and lead better lives.
Understandably, a lot of the articles, videos and other resources about starting off the New Year focus on which habits are best and the steps you need to take to achieve them. They outline the goals, plans and actions we need to make our resolutions a reality.
If you’re looking for 10 tips on how to lose 100 pounds in 90 days, then this article isn’t for you. Instead, why not consider some of the underlying and lesser-talked about benefits of kicking bad habits and forming better ones this year.
1. Challenging your norms
Why is it that you sneak sweets and junk food so often? How come you’re always so tired in the morning? Why can’t you get your butt to the gym?
If your answer for poor habits is “That’s just the way I am/the way things are” then you’re probably underestimating yourself. Stop. Think about your actions and why you’ve taken them perpetually over time. You might learn a lot.
Take personal finance advisor and entrepreneur Ramit Sethi for example. When he stopped to analyse himself and why he wasn’t going to the gym, he realised something simple that he’d never considered previously: His closet was in a different room, separate from his bedroom. Instead of getting up in the cold to put on clothes, it was easier to just stay in bed.
“Once I realised this, I folded my clothes and shoes the night before. When I woke up the next morning, I would roll over and see my gym clothes sitting on the floor. The result? My gym attendance soared by over 300%.”
Forming a new habit is your chance to examine your life — or at least one important aspect of it — and figure out why you’ve been making the decisions that lead to the habits you want or need to change.
2. Taking control
We don’t have to be the sum of randomised actions and results, based simply on moral and civil codes. It’s up to each one of us individually to take control of our actions and maximise the results.
It’s the same in business. There’s nothing you do without careful research and consideration in order to maximise productivity, profits, etc.
You’re your own boss. You control your thoughts and actions; these things aren’t up to chance. Having the ability to make significant changes to your life is empowering, so long as you seize the opportunity.
Take control. Be the entrepreneur of yourself, 100 percent.
3. Achieving clearer self-awareness
Some people say it takes only 21 days to form a new habit. Others say that just isn’t true. However long it takes, habit formation is a personal journey; one that requires desire, motivation, dedication, perseverance and change.
Habit formation takes you out of your comfort zone, to a place of self-discovery. If you’re getting into shape, how far can you push yourself physically? If you’re trying to eat better, how much temptation can you withstand?
Figure out what was required to succeed or why it was that you failed. Either way, you can obtain a clearer sense of your personal limits and, hopefully, how to achieve your goals — and sustain them — within your constraints.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” Not only to the world, but to yourself as well.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Build A Disruptive Attitude
What does it mean to navigate a disruptive world and succeed in a market – place that is changing faster than it’s ever changed before?
What do you need to know to be a success? What resources and support do you need? How do you need to feel and think to be a success in a disrupted world?
According to Malcolm Gladwell, who spoke at the 2017 BCX Disrupt Summit, you need three key things to succeed in a disrupted world: Resources, knowledge and the right attitude.
The First step towards innovation and disruption is your mind. Your attitude.
For Gladwell, Malcolm McLean is the single biggest disruptor of the 20th century, in that he implemented containerised shipping. Without this fundamental shift in the way we ship cargo, the modern, connected world as we know it today would not exist.
Crucially, McLean did not invent containerised shipping, but no one had been able to make it work before a trucker from Ohio came along, and got irritated by how long he had to wait at the docks to offload his cargo (roughly 24 hours).
But McLean had an idea and he presented it at a conference of maritime shippers in Amsterdam. They laughed him off the stage. Normally, when we are treated with this type of derision, we get discouraged and give up. McLean didn’t do that. He possessed a fundamental trait that all entrepreneurs need: He didn’t require the approval of others to do what he believed was right. Entrepreneurs are open, creative, and see solutions to problems that others don’t; they are also — crucially — highly conscientious, which means they follow through on an idea in a detailed, disciplined way.
This is rare. You get creative people, and conscientious people, but it’s not easy to find both traits in the same person. Add to that the third trait of disagreeableness, in that they do not have to follow established norms, and you have a real game-changer.
McLean didn’t look at the problem as a shipper did. He came from an entirely new angle, and not only found a way to make containerised shipping possible, but affordable too.
Ikea is a similar example. In a nutshell, Ikea is furniture shipped flat from Poland. Ingvar Kamprad pursued outsourcing on an aggressive level, had an extraordinary amount of creativity in solving problems, and was very conscientious. Consider how difficult it would have been to build a world-class manufacturing plant in Poland in 1961. The country was a post-WW2 mess, in the grip of Soviet Russia, known for shoddy workmanship and actively hostile to free enterprise.
And then Kamprad waltzed in from Sweden and pulled off the impossible because of his single-minded grit and attention to detail. He is the epitome of conscientiousness and obsessiveness.
Now consider Steve Jobs.
By the 1970s, Xerox was the most important tech company in the world. They were the richest, most innovative and profitable company, and they invested in a state-of-the-art R&D centre and filled it with 100 of the most brilliant computer scientists from around the world, and told them to be brilliant.
And they were. As per Xerox’s request, they reinvented the office. They invented the laser printer, the world’s first word processing programme, interfaces — and the list continues.
And then a 23-year-old Steve Jobs visited the centre. At that stage, his company was making traditional kit computers out of a garage. He was blown away by what he saw at Xerox Park and all the incredible things they were doing — particularly when he was shown the mouse and interface the Xerox team had developed for personal computers. He immediately saw how icons and a mouse changed everything. This was the future of computing.
Leading the charge
Here’s why Apple is the world’s biggest tech company four decades later, and Xerox is not: While the Xerox team understood they had changed computing forever, there was no urgency to be the first to market.
Jobs left that day, immediately told his team to stop what they were doing, because it would soon be obsolete anyway, and started working on a new product based on what Xerox had developed.
His team told him he was nuts — they’d spent millions on what they were doing. Jobs said it didn’t matter. It was obsolete. He didn’t have more resources. He didn’t have smarter guys. He didn’t even have a wiser and better vision.
But he was in a hurry. And he was able to execute on his vision.
If you can get your mindset right, you can gather the resources and knowledge that you need to be successful. Learn as much as you can. Be open to new ideas. And if something is soon going to be obsolete, walk away. Find the next big thing. Because you’re either being disrupted, or you’re the disruptor. Which would you like to be?
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