There’s no single way to guarantee a happy life. We’re all different people with different hopes and dreams. But there are things we can do — or more accurately, things we can stop doing that are getting in the way of living up to our full potential.
Obsessing about the future or the past.
Maybe you’re the type of person who is constantly mapping out your tomorrows. Or maybe you’re the type of person who is constantly analyzing your yesterdays. While there’s a lot of good about planning for the future and learning from your past, it can easily become too much of a good thing. Agonizing over prior mistakes or worrying about the future is a recipe for paralysis, creating an empty future and a past filled with regrets.
Watching too much or not enough news.
You should absolutely know what’s going on the world. There is no value in ignorance, nothing positive in the statement, “I don’t watch the news because it’s depressing.” But whether you favor Fox News or MSNBC, the 24-hour news cycle is too much for you. It’s too much for everyone. It’s giving you too much anxiety. Skim the headlines of a CREDIBLE newspaper in the morning and read the articles that interest you. Or watch the nightly news at the end of each day. That’s all the information you really need — no more, no less.
Caring what other people think.
Like the saying goes, “Opinions are like assholes — everybody’s got one, and they all stink.” There is no way you’re ever going to please everyone, and going against your instincts to make someone else happy is counterproductive. Chasing the approval of others is the best way to lose any sense of identity.
Staying in a bad relationship.
Whether it’s a romantic relationship or just a friendship, there’s no value in keeping toxic people in your life. That doesn’t mean you should give up on a person for making a couple mistakes, but if it becomes a pattern, you need to get out. It doesn’t make you a quitter. It makes you a happier person.
Using social media.
We know our obsession with social media isn’t healthy. We know we gauge our self-worth by how many “likes” we get on our posts and how many “friends” we have. We know we use it as an echo chamber to reinforce our beliefs and shut out dissent, regardless of facts. We know social media has given rise to a new form of long-distance bullying and given a platform for hate speech. We know it contributes to our growing depression and sense of isolation. And yet, we still use it every single day.
Basically, all we have to do to be happier is stop placing so much value and stop wasting so much time on the things that make us miserable. Life is too short to be unhappy because of things that are well within your control. Making a few small changes in your life can produce big results.