When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”’
Helen Keller

 

Living a life where you’re happier and kinder towards yourself is not just about what you can do. But also about what you are already doing. And especially those habits that do have a negative and unhappy impact on your life.

So this week I’d like to share 9 such habits. And what have helped me a whole lot to do instead.

 

1. Stop overthinking.

Overthinking can make any issue seem bigger and scarier than it actually is. It can hold you back in life and from taking action.

What to do instead:

  • Set short time-limits for decisions. For example: For small decisions like if should go and do the laundry, start writing a new article or work out I usually give myself 30 seconds or less to make a decision. For somewhat larger decisions that would have taken me days or weeks to think through in the past I set a deadline for 30 minutes or at least for the end of the workday.
  • Keep a simple reminder where you cannot avoid seeing it every day. A note that said “Keep things extremely simple” on the white board I saw many times each day helped me greatly to – over time – minimize my overthinking.

 

 

2. Stop swimming in the sea of the most negative voices.

Our happiness is greatly influenced by the people and the other sources around us.

If you swim around in a sea of negative people and information that drag you down into fear, frustration and feeling powerless then that will limit your life.

What to do instead:

Figure out what the biggest time-wasters and energy-drains are among all those things that influence you.

  • What 1-2 people drag you and your thoughts down the most?
  • What 1-2 other sources like blogs, forums, books, magazines, music and movies have the biggest negative impact?

Write those answers down. Then think about what 1-2 people and 1-2 other sources that lift you up and make you feel happier about yourself and life the most.

Make a decision to spend less time with the 2-4 negative sources and to spend the time you have now freed up with those positive influences you listed.

 

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Mahatma Gandhi

3. Stop getting stuck in the past or future.

Spending too much time in the past usually leads to going over old mistakes or failures over and over again and to wishing you could go back and do something about them.

And spending too much time thinking about the future usually leads to worries and to building monsters and nightmare scenarios in your mind.

What to do instead:

Spend more of your time in the present moment. You’ll feel lighter, things will feel easier and you’ll be more alert to appreciate the small wonders of everyday life.

Reconnect with what’s happening right now by just sitting down and being still. Then either:

  • Just breathe. Spend a couple of minutes on focusing on just your breaths going in and out.
  • Only focus on what is going on around you right now. Do it with all your senses. Listen, see, smell and feel what is happening in your little part of the world at this moment.

 

 

4. Stop setting a too high bar for happiness.

A common mistake I used to make was to set a too high bar for my own happiness.

And so I usually only felt happy when I achieved something big, when I did something perfectly or when something unexpected and wonderful happened.

You don’t have to wait for those rare occasions to feel happy though.

What to do instead:

Tell yourself this as you get out of bed in morning:

Today I will have a low bar for happiness.

To remember to do this, consider writing it down on a note or on your cell phone so your see it first thing in the morning.

By doing so you’ll take fewer things for granted. Your attention will naturally be more on what is happening in your daily life and you’ll be more grateful for the things there. Like the food, the weather, hanging out with a friend or a pet for a while, the small gestures of kindness and the small moments that pass by so quickly.

This has at least been my experience with this habit. And it has not decreased my drive to achieve things or to get to done. Instead it has made daily life lighter to live. And the path to what I want to achieve a happier one to walk on.

 

 

5. Stop comparing yourself to other people.

Comparing yourself to other people can easily become a destructive and depressing daily habit.

You compare relationships, cars, careers, bodies and houses and at the end of the day your self-esteem is low and you feel like a failure with negativity buzzing around in your head like a swarm of irritating bees.

What to do instead:

Compare yourself to yourself. Just see:

  • How much you have grown.
  • How far you have come.
  • The progress you have made towards your goals and dreams.

And don’t forget to celebrate the small successes and steps forward too.

This habit will help you to see yourself from a kinder and more helpful perspective where you feel energized as you appreciate the steps you have taken on your journey. Instead of feeling drained and powerless to keep growing and to keep going for what you want out of life.

 

 

6. Stop doing things too fast.

When you go fast pretty much all the time while walking, talking, driving or running then you tend to feel more stressed.

Your focus more easily becomes scattered and it becomes harder to think clearly.

What to do instead:

Slow down. Walk, talk, move, drive and bicycle slower. As you you do that:

  • The stress in your body and mind will float away.
  • You’ll naturally be more in the moment.
  • You’ll enjoy all the smells, sights, sounds and experiences of life even more.

 

 

7. Stop pushing away how you deep down feel.

It is one thing to focus on what is positive in life.

But it is another thing to try to push away how you deep down feel about something. And it usually doesn’t lead to happiness even if you try to turn on a smile and force the positivity.

What to do instead:

  • Write it or talk it out. Don’t force the positive thinking. If you have negative feelings or thoughts that pop up again and again then take some time with yourself to think it through. A pen and paper or a journal on your computer can help you to think more clearly. Or you can talk about it with someone close to you.
  • Create a small plan. After you have accepted and processed how you think and feel about this then write down a small plan – maybe just a step or a couple of them – that you can take action on to move yourself out of this situation and into something better.

And after that get going and get the ball rolling by taking the first small and practical step forward.

 

 

8. Stop spending too little energy and attention on what truly matters to you.

It is easy to get lost and misspend too much of your day and week. On things you might just do out of habit or because you feel you should. On busy work or on things that honestly deep down isn’t that important to you.

What to do instead:

Get your priorities in check. Focus on what truly matters for YOU (and not what matters most to your boss or parents etc.)

Ask yourself: what are the top 4 most important things in my life this year?

Maybe it is your family. Or your hobby and to become a better photographer. Or your health and getting in shape. Or an important project at work or in your own business.

Sit down, really think about it and reduce what matters to just the essentials.

Then take out a pen and a small piece of paper and write down just your top 4 priorities for this year.

Put that note where you cannot avoid seeing it every day. Like in your work space. Or beside your bathroom mirror or on your fridge.

This will help you to keep your focus on the right track every day.

 

 

9. Stop waiting for someone else to make you happier.

Don’t make the all too common mistake of waiting for someone else to create the week, month and year you want to have. That usually leads to much waiting and frustrations.

What to do instead:

Be proactive. Get the ball rolling yourself. Take action and take the first small step forward with making the changes you want to make to create the life you want to live.

  • Set up a coffee date or an evening at the pub with those most positive people in your life.
  • Set the low bar for happiness as you jump or drag yourself out of bed in the morning and go slow today.
  • Sit down tonight and write down those four most important things for you this year.

And if it feels difficult and you start to procrastinate then remember that you can always take smaller steps forward. Do whatever is needed to reduce that mental barrier and to get yourself to begin or back into taking action again.