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.
The 5 Gut-Check Questions Confronting Entrepreneurs Every Day
The day you forget why you began is the day you’re done.
Entrepreneurs make an astounding number of decisions daily. They are faced with choosing which opportunities to move on and must solve problems big and small.
By setting up a framework of questions to ask yourself daily, you’ll give yourself some markers to help guide you through these difficult situations. Knowing where you stand on these questions will empower you to make good choices that ultimately lead you to your desired outcome. It will give you a deeper understanding of your motivations and your feelings about your business, and can help you clarify future plans.
Here are five powerful questions all entrepreneurs should ask themselves daily to ensure they are consistently moving toward their goals and making the best decisions for themselves and their business. Ask yourself these questions with an honest and open mind, and see where they take you.
1. Why are you doing this?
What makes this one little question so powerful is that it forces you to examine your desires and impulses, and helps you chart how those motivations change over time. It forces you to look at things from a different perspective. Asking yourself this question every day reaffirms your ambitions and the mindset behind why you are doing what you’re doing. If you don’t know why, you’re in trouble!
Asking this question opens the door to a plethora of other questions that will give you food for thought. What is the reason for launching your business? Why are you passionate about doing this? Are you the right person to run this business? These answers may change over time. At first it may seem difficult to truly nail down the “why” behind your motivations. Maybe there are competing interests that are driving you. But when you really think about it and drill down into this question, there’s probably a simple answer. Just be sure you’re being truthful with yourself.
Why you do something also gives rise to the question: what do you hope to achieve? You need to know what your end game looks like, and what success means to you. Is it about attaining a certain level of wealth? Is it about being the top in your market? Is it about earning respect? Are you looking to rule the world (or at least a niche market), or are you simply hoping to earn a living doing something you love?
Start your day by asking yourself this question and see where your answer takes you. By spending a few minutes pondering this, you’ll gain clarity that will help you steer your career in the direction you want it to go.
2. What is your company’s purpose?
See if you can answer this question in a single sentence. A good place to start is with your mission statement: what are the formal aims, goals and values of your company or organisation? This should be clear and concise – it should get to the heart of what your business is about.
Your company’s purpose is the foundation that all else is built on. It should have enough flexibility to grow and allow for change, but be specific enough to be meaningful and relevant. Ultimately, this question should help you understand what the heck you’re really doing here.
This question should be at the forefront of your mind when making important decisions. Ask yourself whether this new venture or idea would reinforce or logically contribute to your company’s overall purpose. Are you staying true to your calling?
That’s not to say that your purpose can’t change over time. However, if it does, the change should be purposeful and executed with care. Thinking about this will help you identify your long-term business goals and may lead to bigger questions, such as: What do you want your company to mean to your customers, what is your company’s place in world and what is its ideal market?
3. Where is your business at right now?
The goal with this question is to take both an analytical and emotional assessment of your business. This is a chance for you to take a hard look at where your company sits. Is it on the right track? What seems amiss? What is going right and how can that be reproduced throughout your business?
It’s also important to acknowledge your emotions and to be mindful of how you are feeling about your business. What is your gut instinct saying? Are you feeling anxious or excited about the business? Whether you are having negative emotions or positive ones, it’s important to recognise what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way.
This will give you a chance to better understand your mental state and how that may be influencing your decision making. It’s also about understanding what kind of vibe you are putting out. Are you feeling clear-minded and balanced? Or are you feeling off-kilter and out of sorts?
Being in tune with your emotions and having a clear view of what’s going on with your business will ensure you’re on an even keel. It will help you avoid overreacting or under-reacting to situations.
4. What lessons are you learning?
Every entrepreneur faces an uphill battle to achieve success. Every day you should be learning and growing, and the best way to do this is through a great deal of reflection on the lessons that present themselves each day.
Ask yourself whether you’re learning from your mistakes. Failure is a part of every entrepreneur’s journey. The question is, will your mistakes allow you to learn and grow? If not, you’re liable to fall into the same pitfalls and missteps. Conversely, are you learning when to jump at an opportunity and when to let it go? This is the ultimate lesson every entrepreneur is trying to learn, and it’s never an easy one.
The next time you’re weighing whether or not to take a risk, try asking yourself: “When I’m 80, will I feel sorry if I hadn’t gone for it?” Jeff Bezos does this as a way to crystallise whether he will regret not taking action on something. In the big picture, it’s often what we fail to do that we see as our biggest mistakes in life.
5. What’s next?
If you ask yourself one question every day, this should be it. As an entrepreneur, you always need to be anticipating what’s next. You need to anticipate what’s coming down the road and formulate a plan to take it on. This is the question that forces you to look up from that pile of work on your desk and think about the big picture and next steps for your business.
What strategies will you need as you keep pushing your business into the future? What trends or shifting interests are coming up that may affect your business? How will new technology impact the way you manage the company?
Disruption will happen in every market because change is inevitable. Businesses that survive see that wave coming and start making adjustments early on. So, in a way, change is predictable because it will always come. Innovation and ingenuity will always be the key to success – and those who seize opportunity will ride the crest of the next wave.
So when you ask yourself “What’s next?” make sure you have your blinders off and are looking at things with a curious and open mind. Make sure you’re staying open to new ideas and embracing creative solutions. Keeping looking for the “wow” factor.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
5 Inspiring Quotes From Madiba To Stir You Into Action On Mandela Day
In honour of Mandela Day, here are 5 of Nelson Mandela’s most inspiring quotes.
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior
If the harshest thing you have to say about someone is partly true, say the other part.
Did you know that in every language, there are more negative words than positive ones? It seems we need lots of words to describe our negative feelings, but we’re content with a handful of positive ones.
For instance, researchers have found that most cultures have words for seven basic emotions: Joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and guilt.
That’s one positive emotion, and six negative
It’s no wonder so many of us have a hard time keeping our negative comments in check. Over the past six months I’ve been working on the verbal language that I’ve been using that I don’t even realize hurts others and in some cases makes them feel inferior. I even noticed that I’ve used a couple on my personal and business website. This is a “no-no” that I needed to fix.
This post will list 25 negative words you should avoid…so that you stop hurting, belittling and intimidating those around you!
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