Becoming happier is a process.
Toxic and unhealthy habits are the biggest roadblock that stands in the way of that process.
Here are the top habits to eliminate from your life if you want to be much happier and have higher life satisfaction.
1) Repressing your emotions
From a young age many of us are raised to believe that certain emotions and thoughts are “bad.”
We then internalize this and feel guilt and shame about ourselves:
“I’m feeling those emotions and thinking those thoughts, *I* must be bad!”
I remember thinking exactly this as a youngster.
The next step is we then repress these emotions and thoughts, telling ourselves that our anger and sadness aren’t “us” and denying our thoughts of wanting power or revenge or finding weird things funny.
You can’t be happy with half yourself closed for business!
It’s time to stop repressing your emotions and also admitting that sometimes really weird, offensive sh*t is funny (for example).
2) Focusing too much on ‘stuff’
Getting stuff is great, but it should never become the focus of your life.
If you have a habit of using retail therapy or trying to earn more money to feel better about yourself, it’s time to hit the brakes.
Being materially comfortable and in a position to build a good life is crucial.
But becoming emotionally dependent on material things for a sense of well-being is something else entirely.
It’s essentially a codependent relationship with material things, and what’s worse is that it can begin to infect every area of your life so that even your partner, your kids and your spirituality all become “things” you “have” and “gain.”
3) Waiting for others to take action
For years I fell into this trap:
Waiting for others to act or do something before I could join in or figure out what to do next.
You end up waiting forever!
Instead, work on becoming your own center of gravity.
Follow your passion and your goals. If you aren’t sure, try dipping your toe in the water and go from there.
Whatever you do, don’t wait on others to act first, because you’ll be waiting a long time and you’ll also fall into a passive mindset.
4) Checking what other people think
On a related note to becoming passive is to waiting for others to give you a stamp of approval.
This is a major block to being happy.
The reason is that if others do validate you then you still feel like you’re their slave to live up to expectations and the image they have of you.
If others don’t validate you, then you continue trimming yourself to make yourself “acceptable” or better in their eyes.
Either way, it’s a losing battle!
5) Giving in to imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you don’t deserve your accomplishments and that your efforts are in vain.
You’ll never be that fit guy you want to be…
You’ll never be that confident female CEO you’ve always dreamed of being…
You feel “not good enough.” You feel lesser, flawed, out of place.
The more you try to compensate or hype yourself up the more you feel like a fake.
The roots of imposter syndrome are often in early childhood trauma and alienation, and in damage done to the inner child.
These are some of my favorite powerful healing exercises for your inner child that can help in this process and prevent imposter syndrome.
6) Hiding from the world and other people
When you’re feeling unworthy or confused, you may be tempted to hide from the world.
There are more opportunities to do this than ever before than history:
- Remote work online
- Online friends
- Ordering food from apps
- Doing online therapy
- Taking online courses and counseling
- Avoiding as many IRL (in real life) interactions as possible…
If this is you, I get it. But I want to encourage you to work IRL interactions into your life, even if you start small.
You’ll be surprised how big a difference it can make just to step out into the world and show your face and say hi to a stranger.
7) Living an unhealthy, inactive and sedentary life
Your body is made to move, and if you have the ability to do so it’s a big blessing.
Get up and move.
Go for a jog, go to the gym, go for a walk with your dog (or your cat!)
Maybe you have a place you can even swim?
If you start eating better, sleeping better and doing exercise, your dopamine levels and happiness levels are going to become much more consistently elevated.
8) Making excuses for inaction
There are many reasons why you may not feel like being more active.
I know that in my own experience the less I exercise and go to the gym the less I feel motivated to go, and vice versa.
Becoming more active contributes to a desire to continue being more active.
It’s a cycle of self-betterment, just as getting in the habit of cleaning your home or room starts a cycle of becoming more accustomed to doing so.
But you have to take that first step:
Wash those dishes when you’d rather just leave them for another day…
Go to the gym when you’d rather just check what the latest garbage is on Amazon Prime…
Take that step and stop making excuses!
9) Listening to your inner critic
Part of your excuses may start with listening to your inner critic.
This critical inner voice is stronger in those of us who suffer from attacks of imposter syndrome and self-doubt.
Not everyone does!
In fact the flip side is those who are so confident that they verge into egotism and can’t even understand how they can be to blame for anything.
But if you find there’s a critical voice in your head you’re not alone.
It’s important to realize this repetitive critic is a propagandist. It’s never going to give you the straight goods.
Get active and let it drone on until it tires itself out. Prove it wrong!
10) Blaming yourself when things go wrong
When things go wrong, those of us who are plagued by self-doubt tend to finger ourselves as the culprit.
Often it’s not true at all!
If you do have some blame in what’s going wrong, I’d wager you’re far from the only one to blame.
Even if you are the only one to blame, stop obsessing about it.
This is a major cause of unhappiness: excessive guilt and self-blame.
Learn to surrender this to a higher power, make amends for whatever you did ot didn’t do and let it go…
11) Letting negative people influence you
Negative people are those who are unreasonably down all the time and have a very nihilistic or pessimistic view of life.
They will always be around, and at times we all fall into negativity.
But you shouldn’t let negative views influence you too much.
To be quite frank:
Having an unreasonably optimistic or pessimistic view of life both strike me as a bit childish.
Life has plenty of ups and downs and it’s never going to be just great or just horrible.
Facing this reality is a big part of growing up and becoming much happier overall.
12) Overuse of technology and too much screen time
Modern society spends too much time on their devices and phones.
Call me crazy, but I really believe that.
I know that at least for me it makes me feel depleted and low-energy if I check my phone too often and don’t take breaks to look at the world around me.
Try to cut down your screen time outside work!
“The real question is how much time you spend plugged in (to video games, the TV, your tablet, computer, or phone) and whether it makes you feel good, or simply makes you numb.”
13) Seeking an ideal future or golden past
Living in the past or the future happens from time to time.
But spend too long there and you lose all your power in the present.
Being happy has a lot to do with tapping into the power of now.
If you have a tendency to look for a golden past or seek out a future utopia, keep in mind that this can keep you trapped in endless daydreaming.
The time to be happy is now
The time to be happy is now.
Instead of thinking about what happiness is or trying to reach some ideal state, just exist in this moment and feel inside your body.
You’re here for a reason, or at the very least you’re here.
Why not enjoy it for a while?
“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of,” noted the French writer Albert Camus.
“You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.