Happiness is an abstract concept for which there is no universal measuring stick. That’s why it’s hard to say if a person is happy or not. Fleeting moments of positive emotions that come from one-time events like enjoying a movie or meeting up with old friends make us happy. But how long do these feelings last?
A happy person is defined as one who has a general sense of well-being and contentment that comes from the knowledge that one’s life is worthwhile and meaningful. Good relationships and achievement of goals give our lives a sense of purpose and we have a positive state of mind.
Our attitudes play an important role in our happiness. One is interpreting the actions of other people in a compassionate manner. Judge with mercy and you will experience a lightness of spirit. Another is realistic optimism. Look to the future with anticipation of good rather than bad outcomes. A third attitude is, change your mindset about what will make you happy. When people are asked what will make them happy, the most common responses are more money, romantic love, job promotion and fame. Be grateful for having enough money to meet your needs, a job that you enjoy and a partner who is constant.
But our pursuit of happiness is often hindered by habits that we unknowingly adopt, not realizing their destructive effects on ourselves. When we view life in these frames of mind, our sense of contentment and satisfaction will elude us.
5 Habits that Prevent Us from Becoming a Happier Person
Thinking that happiness is still in the future
How many times have you said to yourself, “I’ll be happy if I get a raise” or “I’ll be happy if I can buy a new car?” This kind of thinking focuses on external circumstances when true happiness comes from the internal, which are your values and attitudes. Condition your mind to be happy in the present even as you set goals for the future.
Living in the past
Holding on to painful memories spawns many negative emotions – anger at yourself and others, regret, blame, guilt. These lead to depression and anxiety, and ultimately unhappiness. Let go of the “what ifs” and stop the blame game. Move on and find contentment in the present.
Obsessing on a problem or issue
Problems need solutions and issues have to be settled. But when you overthink about them, you become anxious and stressed. This in turn will affect your capacity for objective decision-making and it creates even more stress. Stop obsessing over issues by writing a journal, setting limits to what you can do and asking for help from others.
Having a victim mentality
If you habitually indulge in self-pity and think that life’s unfair and you cannot change it, you’re suffering from a victim mentality. You feel helpless and unhappy because other people have all the luck. Feeling this way once in a while is normal, especially when circumstances are difficult. But persistent victim mentality is harmful and counterproductive. Instead of handing over control of your life to the world at large, do something. Start a hobby, volunteer in the community. Seeing people who are less fortunate than yourself will help you stop thinking of yourself as a victim.
Worrying about the opinion of others
If all your actions are dictated by what people will say or think, it’s guaranteed to make you unhappy because you can’t do what you like. If it’s not against the law and it won’t hurt others, stop thinking about what others will say and go ahead and do it. Resign from a stable job to pursue your passion, end a turbulent marriage. If you base your decisions on how other people will see you, you will never find happiness.