Happiness buster 1: Focusing on the future too much
Focusing on the future too much can lead to anxiety about it. We start to worry about what might happen. Our brain fills up with negativity and worse case scenarios. In reality, the things that we worry about the most do not end up manifesting; things never turn out the way we think they will. As Baz Luhrmann once said ‘Worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum’. bazinga Worrying is pointless. Instead, focus on what is taking place in the present. Mindfulness is an excellent technique that allows us to do this. It requires us to focus on the present eliminating any other thoughts that are not part of the moment. This helps calm the nerves and stops us from focusing on things that are unlikely to occur, giving us the ability to think clearly.
Happiness buster 2: Comparing yourself to others
When we compare ourselves to others we are assuming we know everything else about that person’s life, the good things in their life and the bad things. The problem with this is that very often, we only know the positive things and very little about what is really going on in that person’s life. We base a comparison on an incomplete picture; and give it the power to let us feel negative and disheartened about our own selves. This only damages our self-esteem and demotivates us. It does not help us and distracts us from focusing on the things that are really important. It is unhelpful and unnecessarily damaging.
Comparing yourself to others is a low value activity. It creates a competitive environment instead of a collaborative one where you and the other person could help each other to achieve a mutually positive outcome. Instead comparison, results in negativity towards somebody who could actually help you.
Rather than engaging in jealousy, focus on yourself and your own goals. Admire what the other person has to offer. If that is what you want, put it on your vision board. By being positive about it you are more likely to attract it into your own life.
Appreciate your own strengths and qualities. Write them down somewhere safe so that you can refer to them when you find yourself doubting your own abilities or value. Find inspiration in your differences and celebrate the wonderful things in your own life.
Happiness buster 3: Excessive exposures to the news and the media
Whilst the news and media help to keep you abreast with current affairs, they can leave you feeling negative and sad about the world. It can lead to fear about the future causing anxiety and stress.
News has limited benefit and adds little value to your life. Instead watch or read it in moderation. Take it with a pinch of salt and do not take any of it as gospel truth. There are always two sides if not more to a story and sometimes we will never know the full picture.
Happiness buster 4: Ruminating on the past
Sometimes we find it hard to shake off events that have happened to us in the past. We find it hard to let go of grudges or forgive. By holding on to the past though, we are not living in the present moment. We are not allowing ourselves to move forward and experience joy. We are punishing ourselves over and over again every time we dwell on the past. Holding on to this anger can lead to feelings of depression, if not expressed and released. As Dalai Lama eloquently said: “Anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Instead focus on learning from the past event or experience and move forward. Do not have any regrets. We all make mistakes – however that is how we learn. An expert is someone who has made every single mistake in the book. Develop resilience: it will help you become stronger and allow you to bounce back from any negative experience.
Happiness buster 5: Engaging in negative thinking
We all find ourselves engaging in negative self-talk with ourselves from time to time. However the more self-aware we are of this, the easier it is to catch ourselves when we do it. Negative thinking can lead to anxiety about the future. The power of our imagination means that we can create a heightened state of fear or stress; unnecessarily, particularly as things never turn out the way we think they will. Negative thinking results in anger, depression, sadness and a whole host of other negative emotions. If we are not careful, this can become a habit and we push any chance of happiness further away.
Instead catch yourself in these moments, acknowledge the negative thought and respond with a positive action. For example smile or jump up in the air for joy. This small action has a powerful impact – it changes our body language to a more positive one which in turn sends a positive signal to the brain and results in positive feelings. In an instant we have converted negativity to positivity.
Practice positive thinking every day through mindfulness, meditation or by performing an activity that you love and are fully engaged in (such as, singing, reading, playing the piano, listening to music or meeting up with a close friend). This creates positive experiences in your life which result in positive habits and ultimately a positive, happy mindset.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Happiness buster 6: Hanging out with negative people
Negativity is contagious. Consistently negative people leave us deflated and drain our energy. Eventually we will start avoiding the negative person. (This is different to people who genuinely need our help or are having a bad day.) Understand what it is that this person is getting from you – is it the constant sympathy that they are feeding off on? Are you allowing them to consistently live in a ‘victim’ mode. This is not helping them. They need to get out of ‘victim’ mode and help themselves. If you keep feeding them with sympathy they will not move forward.
Also understand what you are getting from the relationship. Is it fulfilling a subconscious desire to be needed? Would changing things change your friendship?
Create the space you need from a negative person and think what is the best thing you can do for them and for yourself. Set a positive boundary and protect your energy – there are only so many hours in the day – why not fill them with happy, positive and productive moments. Remember once you let go of negative people, positive ones will appear.
What are your happiness busters? We all have things that leave us feeling deflated. Tell us yours!
Other ways to banish your happiness busters are found in my book, The Happiness Mindset published on Amazon