Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong.
The amount of work is the same. – Francesca Reigler
I usually offer tips and suggestions on how to live a happier life in this column, but sometimes, there is value in identifying what makes us miserable. Awareness is the first important step toward making lasting change, and becoming aware of self-sabotaging habits that get in the way of living our best life can help clear out negative mindsets.
It helps to understand that unhappiness is never the result of external circumstances, but rather, the way we react to those circumstances. Wayne Dyer had it right when he said “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”
Cats, of course, already know this. They’re always on a quest for the most comfort, the most warmth, the most whatever it is that makes them happy in the present moment. But until we mere humans get this, it may help to be aware of the following common things many of us do that get in the way of our happiness:
Comparing yourself to others
This is a surefire road to misery. The Buddha said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There will always be someone who has more than you do. You also don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life. We may envy them their recent success, but in reality, they may be struggling with burnout.
Holding a grudge
Being able to forgive is a crucial component of a happy life. Holding on to resentment toward another person hurts us more than it hurts the other person. Some relationships can’t be mended, but forgiving the other person, even if only in your mind, will allow you to let go.
Giving up on your dreams
It makes me sad when I hear someone say “there’s no point in pursuing my dream. It’s never going to happen.” Following a dream may not always be the easy path, but giving up on a dream is like shutting down a piece of your soul.
Not making time for joy
This goes along with giving up on your dreams. If you don’t make time for the things that bring you joy, your life will lack color and light. Maybe you can’t realize your full dream just yet, but perhaps there are aspects of it that bring you immediate joy. Do you love to draw or paint? Maybe you can’t quit your day job and devote yourself to your art full time, but you can take a drawing class at your local community college.
Whether it’s food, prescription drugs or alcohol, all of these only offer temporary satisfaction. In the long run, they only make us feel worse. Looking for happiness from anything other than what’s inside of us simply won’t work.
Not living in the moment
The present moment is all we have, and yet, we spend so many moments reliving the past or worrying about the future. Happiness only occurs in the present moment. Our cats try to remind us of this one every single day – all we need to do is listen.