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10 Horrible Habits That Destroy Your Happiness

Appreciating what we have and building on it is work. Feeling sorry for ourselves and staying stuck is no effort at all.

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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.

Related: What’s Worth Chasing: Happiness Now or Happiness Later?

2Not appreciating what you have

light-in-the-darkness

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

looking-at-the-past

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.

Related: Talent Is Overrated: Top 10 Habits Of Mentally Tough People

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.

Deep Patel is a young writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of A Paperboy's Fable: The 11 Principles of Success. In the book, he interviewed 15 industry luminaries including professors, entrepreneurs, CEO’s and General David Petraeus. In addition, Patel has served as script editor and creative consultant for the comedy She Wants Me (2012), produced by Charlie Sheen. He has also been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post,Entrepreneur Magazine and Elite Daily. Patel is currently finishing up his second book, The Gray Veil.

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4 Ways to Stop Worrying in 2019

If you’re a bit of a worry-wart, you have to acknowledge this and get proactive about managing your stress, anxiety and worrying levels. Here’s how.

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What if I can’t complete that piece of work in time? What if my home gets burgled while I’m on holiday? We all worry – some people more than others. A few of these worries are genuine concerns, but most are completely out of our control and are most likely never to materialise.

But still, they occupy our minds. And with the digital world now occupying even more of our time, we’ve been given even more material to worry about. Famines in far-away countries, children orphaned by a flood, if we simply turn on our TVs or look to social media, we can become completely overwhelmed by what we see. And it’s making us all desperately unhappy.

So, what do we do? If you’re a bit of a worry-wart, you have to acknowledge this and get proactive about managing your stress, anxiety and worrying levels. Here’s how:

Monitor and limit social media

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We all know our phones are an addiction. And scrolling through Twitter or Instagram, you can compare your life to everyone else’s and add another huge worry to your ever-growing list: I’m not good enough/my life sucks. Which is why there’s a growing trend among Generation X-ers (and even some Millennials), to quit social media altogether.

“It was like breaking an addiction for the first few days, where I felt I was missing out, but after a few weeks I realised that the world carries on, and I was still in touch with those people I actually wanted to connect with. I felt lighter and happier,” says Caryn White*, a mother-of-two and small business owner. If you can’t quit social media for work reasons, then take it off your phone, and only access it on your desktop at specific times of the day.

Limit news

We’re not advocating sticking your head in the sand: just limit which channels you absorb news from, and how often you do it. The last thing you need is to open up your phone on waking up and read about the latest catastrophe, which you are powerless to do anything about.

Pick a few trusted news sources and check them at specific times. Avoid the news on the radio in your car; rather listen to fascinating audio books or podcasts that lift your mood instead of making you worry.

Assumption or fact?

This simple concept is incredibly helpful when faced with a worrying situation. Your child has a strange rash, you’ve Googled it and you’re pretty sure it’s chickenpox. Now the whole family is going to get it, you’ll miss work, your boss will be angry, and you may lose your job. Is the fact that your child has chicken pox an assumption or a fact?

Is losing your job a fact or an assumption? They’re both assumptions. So, take your child to the doctor, get a proper diagnosis and then take the next steps from there (a good medical aid can also help ease the stress of the financial cost of doctors’ visits). This approach is a simple way to deal with worries that start to spiral out of control in your mind.

Write them down

Worrying can seem insurmountable if it’s all in your head. Instead, try this strategy from Qualified FAMSA Counsellor Lynette Blomfield:

  1. Take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, until you calm down.
  2. Once you’re calm, write down the five most stressful things on your list. It could be increasing expenses, like a huge jump in medical aid costs per month.
  3. Brainstorm what you could do to change or eliminate the worry/problem (maybe you can move to a medical aid company that charges less each month?). If necessary, ask a good friend or colleague for advice.
  4. Focus on making progress, not ticking all your worries off and striving for ‘perfection’.
  5. Stay on course and come back to your list regularly.

Dealing with worrying is about being proactive. You’re the only one that can begin the process of reducing anxiety, so now’s the time to take some steps. If you don’t know how to begin doing this on your own, it may be best to see a qualified counsellor or therapist to get you started.

*name has been changed

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Self Development

These 6 Types of Music Are Known To Dramatically Improve Productivity

Just another example of how much you gain by listening.

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Music isn’t just a means of entertaining ourselves: it can also encourage creativity and help us become more productive. Listening to music can also be therapeutic, relieving feelings of stress so you can concentrate better.

Research has found that certain types of music can be beneficial to us while we work. Some types of music seem to help with learning and improve our ability to process information. Other types help block out distracting background noise. Still other types sync with our brain waves to induce “eureka moments.”

So, if you’re struggling with productivity and want to know what you should be listening to, read on. These are the six types of music that will give you a major boost in productivity.

1. Classical Music

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Researchers have long claimed that listening to classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently. This theory, which has been dubbed the Mozart Effect,” suggests that listening to classical composers can enhance brain activity and act as a catalyst for improving health and well-being. Various studies have confirmed that listening to classical music enhances one’s ability to manipulate shapes and solve spatial puzzles.

The absence of words in the music may be one factor, as songs that contain lyrics have been found to be a distraction when you’re trying to focus. And classical music is known for being calming, relaxing and helping reduce stress. This genre of music has been found to help students perform 12 percent better on their exams. Some selections, like Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” seem to help students study longer and retain more information.

Here are other few classical selections you can use to boost productivity while working:

2. Nature Music

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Listening to the sounds of nature, like waves crashing or a babbling brook, has been shown to enhance cognitive function and concentration. Nature sounds work best when they’re soothing sounds, such as flowing water or rainfall, while more jarring noises such as bird calls and animal noises can be distracting.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered that natural sounds boost moods and focus. The study found employees were more productive and had more positive feelings when nature sounds were playing in the background while they worked.

This may be because nature sounds helped mask harsher, more distracting noises, such as people talking or typing. Researchers found that workers not only performed better on tasks, but calming nature sounds also had a restorative effect on cognitive abilities.

Here are some selections to try:

3. Cinematic Music

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An intense film score can make you feel like you’re doing something inspiring or important, even if you’re just chipping away at your to-do list. A grandiose, epic soundtrack playing in the background may make even the most mundane tasks feel like you’re changing the world, thus heightening your concentration and productivity.

Cinematic music scores can be empowering, lifting your spirits and brightening your mood. So, if you’re feeling tired and drained, try listening to some epic-style cinematic music to give you that extra boost of motivation.

Some great movie scores to try include:

4. Video Game Music

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It might seem strange, but listening to music composed for video games can be a great tool to help you focus. Every element of a video game is designed to create an enhanced gaming experience for all your senses, and the music has been composed specifically to help you focus on your task without being distracted by a cacophony of sounds.

This music generally has no lyrics or human voices and is fairly fast-paced to keep you moving forward. Many of these video games involve solving puzzles and dealing with intense situations, so you’re subjecting yourself to simulated stressful challenges. Video games have invested a lot of resources in figuring out the perfect balance to the music they use.

Video game music is composed in a way that keeps you engaged as you evaluate, navigate and often fight your way through these make-believe worlds. These musical compositions may be just the thing to propel you onward and keep you zooming through your tasks and daily to-do list.

Here are some excellent video game music selections to check out:

5. Music between 50 and 80 beats per minute

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Some research suggests that it’s not the type of music that’s important in helping you stay focused and productive, but the tempo of that music. Studies have found that music with 50 to 80 beats per minute can enhance and stimulate creativity and learning.

Dr. Emma Gray, a cognitive behavioural therapist, worked with Spotify to research the benefits of certain types of music. She found that listening to music set in the 50- to 80-beat range puts the brain into an alpha state.

When we’re awake, we’re typically in a state of mind known as beta, a heightened state of alertness where our brain-wave activity is between 14 and 30 HZ. When our brain slows to between 7 and 14 HZ, we’re in a more relaxed alpha state of mind that allows us to be more receptive and open, and less critical. This state of mind is what scientists associate with activities that involve our imagination, memory and intuition, including our “eureka moments.”

If you have ever listened to music that you’re familiar with, only to find yourself deep in thought and not really hearing the music at all, this is an alpha state induced by music. You’re tuning out while being tuned in.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Self Development

10 Secrets To Finding A Job You Love

Entrepreneur and social media sensation Gary Vaynerchuk and nine others tell us how they found their calling and how you can find yours.

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Research suggests that more than half of us are unhappy at work. From lawyers to brokers and CEOs, these Advisors in The Oracles are proof it’s possible to be successful and have a job you love. Here, they share how they found work that fulfills them — and how you can too.

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