You have probably heard the saying, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” which has been attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian and ethicist. At the heart of this saying is the desire to safeguard your happiness. All too often we sabotage our own happiness and in this article we’re going to look at how you do that.
We all have one, an irritating negative voice inside our own head. It’s the one that says, “you’re not good/pretty/rich/popular/clever enough”. Do you recognise it? It is your inner voice, like a stern parent, designed to keep you safe. However, when you get older, that voice can turn on you, and rob you of the confidence to do things.
What can you do about it? Listen to what that voice is trying to tell you and then think rationally. Is it telling lies? Is it projecting your inner fears? You have every right to quash that voice, and try something new – something that will make you happy.
You’re not doing yourself any favours if you always put off to tomorrow what you could be doing today. If you put something off, and waste the time when you could be doing something, then it’s a lose-lose situation. Do what you need to do as soon as you can do it, and you’ll have more time on the other side to do something that makes you happy. If you feel uncomfortable about something you need to do, address that discomfort and take positive action to alleviate the issue. Remember your life should be on a forward trajectory – not sat on pause constantly!
If you’re one of those people who likes all your ducks to be lined up before you do something, or you need everything to be ‘just so’ then you are sabotaging your own happiness. Self-control keeps you safe, yes, but it also hinders your creativity and your ability to do things ‘just because’! Let go of routine and rigidity and try something new. Be flexible and try saying yes to new experiences.
Your happiness depends on you - pure and simple. In life, we travel with other people, but we are in charge of our own destinies. In many ways if you’re in a bad situation, it doesn’t really matter how you got there or who was to blame. You need to pull yourself out of it. Step up and take responsibility for your life, and create the future you want!
Fear of the unknown is a very common problem and one of the main reasons why we sabotage our own happiness. You can stay where you are, and you may just muddle on with your life, but unless you take a giant leap into the unknown, you can never know whether the grass is greener on the other side or not. Embrace change – it helps us to grow as people.
Focussing on what other people think about you can cripple your happiness. Why should what they think determine how you live your life? We all want to be liked, and we all want to impress people, but sometimes you shouldn’t even try. Put yourself first! It doesn’t matter who they are or what they do, you are the most important person in your life.
By the same token you shouldn’t compare yourself with others. How someone else chooses to live their life is down to them and you can neither judge nor compare. You are making your own way in the world, and choosing your own path. The obstacles, challenges and opportunities you face, will be unique to you and they will make you the person you are. We are all individual and shouldn’t try to be carbon copies of other people. You can never really know what is going on behind another person’s façade, so concentrate on your own life and happiness.
We don’t feel safe when we fail or think we’re going to fail, and so we practice avoidance behaviour. The thing to realise is that you can never learn anything new unless you fail the first time, or even first few times. You didn’t tie your shoelaces correctly the very first time you tried, did you? The first picture you drew was not a masterpiece. If we never try, if we never fail, we will always be stagnant and we can never achieve a new kind of happiness.
Sometimes we’re so busy striving to achieve our life goals, we forget to enjoy the small things that life offers. A day of sunshine, a walk by the sea, a lovely meal with friends, a good book, a lie in. Always striving towards our long term goals can mean we become overwhelmed and blinkered. It’s time to stop and actually notice the small things that help make your life a happy one. Slow down and smell the coffee!
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