7 Pitfalls That Keep You from Happiness

Are you living with these 7 pitfalls?

To be honest, becoming happy was not high on my agenda for the first half of my life (no wonder I was unhappy); I was too busy caught up in my own misery to think about happiness.

Ironically (and fortunately for me), suffering in my life got so great in my early 20’s to the point that I had no choice but to seek other ways of being and relating in this world, because let’s face it, I was way too unhappy.

When I started to learn different and new ways of relating to myself, others, and the world at large, I came to realize how I was creating my own unhappiness in major ways.

These 7 pitfalls I’m going to show you are exactly what I was doing in my unhappy days. I was sure happy to recognize them and stop falling into these pitfalls that kept me from my happiness.

Sometimes it’s not what we need to do but it’s what we need to stop doing in order to clear a way for happiness. So take a moment to see if you’re living with these 7 pitfalls that are keeping you from your happiness.

1. Comparing

If you’re constantly comparing your looks, your marriage, finacial status, career success, or anything else, you’re guaranteed to feel miserable. There will always be someone who’s seemingly more beautiful, more successful, more wealthy, more fit or whatever else you can think of. You’ll always feel inadequate or come up short as long as you’re defining or measuring your worth by comparing yourself to someone else.

Instead of comparing, start identifying what really is important to you — and the reason for that, and what would feel good and make you feel alive and authentic in your own unique being.

Define success in your own terms. Run your own race without worrying about who’s ahead of you or behind you, or who’s passing you by. See the marvelous journey that is your life. What do you want to see in that journey? What do you want to experience more of?

The reason many of us strive to be as successful or beautiful as the mega-rich and Hollywood stars (or bestselling author, politician, or NBA athletes) is that we are under this false notion that, being like them would somehow make us more happy and validated as worthy human beings.

What we’re really after then is happiness and to feel our inherent value and worth, which can only come from us and not outside of ourselves.

So think about this: What would truly make you happy? And if your answer was something like “more money” go deeper and ask what it is that money will bring to you or allow you to do? And think about how you would feel if you had that very thing you wanted.

What is truly important to you might be radically different from what other people consider to be important. And that’s okay because you are one of a kind and there is no one like you. Own it.

2. Staying Stuck in the Past

I heard it said that an average person produces about 50,000 thoughts per day and that 98% of them are exactly the same thoughts as the ones he or she had the day before.

We are on repeat!

What were you thinking about in the last hour?

We are often on autopilot where we are constantly thinking about what has already happened — ruminating, analyzing, judging, regretting, and reliving the pain or the pleasure of the past. We simply don’t seem to let go.

And many of the thoughts we often think about unfortunately are thoughts that keep us in an emotional state we most likely don’t want to be in: resentful, hurt, ashamed, fearful, etc.

And you know what we’re missing out on in exchange for reliving those memories? The precious NOW. The experience you’re having right now.

So when you find yourself caught up in the memories of the past, pause, breathe, and notice what’s happening in and around you. Feel what you’re feeling and take a look at what’s right in front of you. You just might find delight and beauty right in front of you, right in the moment.

3. Obsessing About the Future

Perpetually living in the future in your mind can be just as detrimental to your happiness as living in the past. You can focus so much on what you want happen in the future that you can easily forget to enjoy the present moment.

You may even be subconsciously refusing to enjoy your life right now because you haven’t achieved the things you wish to achieve. You’re striving to get “there,” wherever “there” might be.

You’re not where you want to be. Happiness has to wait.

You somehow believe that you won’t and can’t be happy until you have the very things you desire, that which you don’t have right now. You wait to be happy till you have that one thing: a dream job, a dream body, a dream house, and the list goes on.

And the thing is, you probably still won’t be happy when you have that one thing you thought you wanted. Your mind will gravitate toward yet another and another thing to pine for. Something bigger, something better. Your mind has been trained to look for and desire what you don’t have.

Future never comes. This is the ultimate truth. We only have right NOW. So start living now. Start enjoying what you have right now. Don’t wait, because you’ll be waiting for a long time if you’re waiting for your future to make you happy. Learn to be happy now by being here now.

4. More Obsessing About the Future

Aside from obsessing about your future desires, you might also be worrying yourself to death about the impending doom you’re convinced that is sure to come unless you worried about it obsessively.

You worry whether you’ll have enough money, whether you’ll have a job, whether you’ll fall ill to the same sickness your grandmother had.

You worry about the future as if your worry will prevent your worst fear from coming true.

The thing is, you’re already living out your worst fear right now — in your mind. You’re living the terror of the future.

If you think this is innocuous, think again; notice what’s happening in your body when you’re thinking about the dreaded future reality. Are your brows furrowed? Is your body tight and constricted? How’s your breathing?

Notice how much distress your body is experiencing. You’re living the fear in your mind and you’re living it in your body as well. For all intents and purposes, your worst fear has come true.

Don’t make what hasn’t happened yet your reality. Live the moment you have right now, and make that your reality. Take one moment at a time and ask, “Am I okay right now? Is what I fear happening right now?” If what you fear is not happening right now, let it go and come back to now.

Stop worrying yourself to death, literally.

5. Repressing your feelings

I’m very familiar with this one (and all the other ones) because I grew up thinking certain feelings were wrong. Anger was one of those feelings.

Witnessing the destructive expressions of this important feeling — anger — and being on the receiving end of them as a young child, I subconsciously took on the belief that it was wrong to be angry.

And I passionately didn’t want to be like the angry person that I was angry at (oh the irony) and hated as a child. She was like a monster to me back then and I didn’t want to be a monster.

Of course, I failed at not being angry, but I learned to be good at hiding my anger by trying to be the nicest and friendliest person I could be (which I probably often failed at, but at least I tried).

I also used to say that I was “hurt” when I was really angry, because being hurt seemed like a more reasonably thing to be than being angry. (Of course, this was all subconsciously done.) So I lied to myself and others and repressed my true feeling — which was really anger.

And that wreaked havoc. I ended up feeling repulsed by some people and situations, and ultimately depressed. I repressed my undesirable feelings so hard that I went numb in all the other feelings. I ended up in the land of apathy.

Going through depression ended up being a real gift to me — though it really wasn’t a fun or easy thing to go through — because it gave me a chance for me to dive deep into myself to reclaim my disowned, buried feelings.

And I discovered anger was there for a reason like all the other feelings, and that it wasn’t bad in itself; no feeling was bad in itself. I learned that all feelings are messengers that have important information to give us.

I learned to embrace the entire spectrum of my feelings, “good” or “bad.”

I learned that I can be angry and process my anger without expressing it in a destructive way.

If you’re feeling stuck, apathetic, numb, or just plain bad, ask yourself this question: what do you need to say or express that you have kept under wraps?

What you sweep under the rug will only fester and haunt you, until you’re ready to shed some light on it.

What do you need to say? What truth are you avoiding? What are you trying to protect?

Free up your feelings. Don’t be a captive by them. Allow your feelings to exist and express; there are constructive ways to express them.

6 Focusing on what’s not right

We all go through things that we don’t like sometimes, but if we keep focusing on what’s not right in our lives, eventually joy can get sucked out of our lives.

Notice how miserable you feel when your mind is focused on things, people, or situations that are not to your liking.

At any given moment, there are countless things happening in your life. Consider what you’re focusing your attention on out of all those countless things.

Do they bring you a feeling of peace or joy? Or do they bring you a feeling of agitation and frustration?

What are you choosing?

Choose to focus on what brings you peace and joy instead of misery and strife.

We can find a thousand things we don’t like but we can also find a thousand things we like. It’s what we focus on and magnify that matters.

If you shift your mind to what is right in your life you’ll soon find that there are so many good things to appreciate and enjoy in your life.

Get in the habit of shifting your mind to what is right in your life.

7. Complaining

I admit, I used to be a class-A complainer. The way to deal with difficulties or challenges for me was through venting.

It felt good in a way to vent and let off steam at the time, but I noticed one day that I was ending up in the same place of complaining with different situations, with my life not changing in any positive way.

If anything it was making my life worse. I was always a powerless victim “wronged” by some really “horrible people” or “terrible situations” where I had no choice or say in what was happening.

I even used to say things like, “I knew something like this would happen,” or “Of course something like this would happen to ME,” as if I was expecting something to complain about. How’s that for a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Then one day, I made a pledge to not complain. I stopped. I decided if I wasn’t happy with something, either I would find a solution to change the situation or I would change my attitude.

Now that, changed my life and changed me for the better.

I’m not saying to never vent because you might need to do that sometimes to process (in which case I recommend journaling), but complaining all the time might keep you in the state of victimhood where you see no solution.

When you stop complaining, you are forced to take charge of your life and make the changes needed to improve the situation. The change you make might be an action or a change in your attitude or thoughts.

Either way, you free yourself from the state of victimhood and become a powerful co-creator of your life.

So stop complaining and take charge of your life.

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