Through past experience, I have learnt that though certain circumstances can make my life unhappy. A part of that, and more often than not, a big part, comes from my own thinking, behavior and habits. I have learnt much from these six life-changing habits:
1. Comparing your life and what you have to others
Comparing what others have in relation to what you have - cars, houses, jobs, clothes, money... can really work a number on your self-esteem, creating a lot of negative feelings.
Change your habit by comparing yourself to yourself. Take a look at how far you've come and how much you have grown and learned along the way. Look at what you've achieved, at what you've managed to overcome and what progress you have made towards your goals. Learn also to be kind to others as well as to yourself, noticing and analyzing your thoughts. If you often judge and criticize people, you'll likely end up being more judgmental and critical towards yourself.
How it works: By getting into this habit you create gratitude, appreciation and kindness towards yourself and others. You learn to become okay with yourself and with the people around you, as opposed to competing with them.
2. Finding it hard to let go of a relationship that no longer serves you
Clinging on to someone who treats you poorly can often be a result of your unhappiness. But learning to let go of a relationship that is toxic or has run its course can provide an essential platform for self-growth.
Change your habit by learning to let go and walk away. Broken relationships are always a difficult step to encounter, and once you have made the decision to distance yourself from a friendship or a relationship, there are often a number of hard lessons you will have to learn to overcome. Forgiving the person for wronging you, is perhaps the hardest lesson that you will have to endure, particularly when you are overwhelmed with resentment towards this person.
How it works: Keep in mind that if you allow these negative feelings to persist, you will only be prolonging your suffering. Remember also that forgiveness has more to do with healing the negative feelings within ourselves, than it does with having to accept the wrong-doing of others.
3. Saying 'yes' to other people's requests when you really want to say 'no'
'Yes' is so easily ingrained in our culture. It supports an open-hearted approach to life, it shows kindness and selflessness, whilst the word 'No' is generally frowned upon and perceived badly. But when you are constantly saying 'yes' to things that you don't want to do, or you don't have time for, when you are placing other people's needs before your own, that is when you need to draw the line and pluck up the courage to just say 'no'.
Change your habit by recognizing times and situations where you need not think twice about saying 'no'. For instance, in moments where you feel as though you are wrestling with your conscience, or you are being exploited by others, or perhaps when you have ended up in a situation that is keeping you away from your own goals or responsibilities.
How it works: By saying 'no' to others, you can concentrate on the things that are really important to you.
4. Constantly striving for perfection
When you are constantly seeking happiness through perfection, it's not going to be easy to find. Setting the bar for your performance at a high level will likely lead to low self-esteem and feeling as though you are not good enough.
Change your habit by aiming for good enough instead. This does not give you the excuse to slack off. Rather, it's about realizing when to let go of your perfectionism and learning to be pleased with what you have done and with what you have finished.
How it works: One of the best ways to let go of perfectionism is to set a deadline. Do what you can, in the best way that you can, in the time-frame you have given yourself (you can apply this to whatever you are doing, be it around the house, or at work), doing so will help you to let go of the need to polish things up a bit too much.
5. Feeling guilty about the past and anxious about the future
Spending too much time in the past reliving old painful memories, conflicts, missed opportunities, or living in the future imagining how things could go wrong at work, in your relationships and with your health, can develop into dreadful scenarios playing over and over in your mind. Not living in the present moment can lead to missing out on wonderful experiences too.
Change your habit by trying to engage in what you are doing. Not thinking about the past or feeling anxious about the future is a pretty impossible thing to do. Rather, observe your thoughts in moments that you tend to dwell on things that rarely happen, or anxieties that won't help you out in the present. You can do this by taking a moment to observe what you are doing and try engage in that as fully as you can. If that doesn't help, divert your attention to your breath for a couple of minutes, taking in what is around you.
How it works: Living in the present moment will allow you to learn from past mistakes, enabling you to make better decisions for your future. Living in the present does not mean that you shouldn't plan ahead either. Rather, planning ahead for tomorrow or next year will give you a sense of excitement and will also bring about a sense of security and stability, particularly in financial matters.
6. Living in a sea of negative thoughts
Living a happier life becomes a lot harder when you let yourself be dragged down by negative voices. Dwelling on the negative details in your life and allowing those details to consume your thoughts is another way to make yourself unhappy.
Change your habit by replacing your negative thoughts with powerful influences. Take a look at what needs changing in your life. Starting with your social circle, dedicate most of your time to hanging out with positive people. In moments of isolation, listen to inspiring music and read stimulating books. Watch movies that exhibit a strong message and TV shows that will make you laugh.
How it works: Making small adjustments to your routine can help change your perspective in life. With a level-headed mind you will be more likely to think critically and solve any negative issues that need changing. Keep in mind that in our negative thoughts we often make mountains out of molehills. Frequently, the problem in your head can be solved or turned into something helpful or positive easily.