Humans are largely habitual creatures, and, unfortunately, this hard-wired ability can be used for good or ill. While we may earnestly avow that we’re desperate for a peaceful and happy life, our habits often simultaneously sabotage us.
We want a healthier lifestyle, but we binge watch TV and eat cookies on the weekends. We want a soul mate, but we reject every dude we meet. We want a positive outlook on life but we constantly complain. We want something different out of life, but we keep doing the same. Damn. Things.
Breaking habits isn’t easy — just ask anyone ever. But ditching the negative patterns we’ve been carrying around for eons is often the missing puzzle piece in our pursuit of happiness.
Here are eight habits that may be getting in your way:
1. Comparing yourself to others.
This is a losing battle that humans have been fighting for all eternity. Your dog doesn’t agonize over the fact that the pup next door has a rhinestone collar and a memory foam bed. He’s stoked to be alive no matter what the circumstances. Comparing yourself negates all sense of appreciation for the amazing aspects of your life. You’re not here to be like someone else; you’re here to be like you.
2. Obsessing about how you look.
Your body is just a shell for the real you — a temporary vessel carrying precious cargo. It deserves your love, care and respect — not your constant criticism. It’s impossible to be happy while hating your physical appearance, because hate and happiness can’t coexist. Plus, putting all your attention on the outside is a distraction from all the things that actually matter.
3. Being judgey.
The judgments we inflict on others are often an outward extension of how we feel about ourselves. The best bet is trying to meet every circumstance and situation with a fresh mind and an open heart. Judging yourself or anyone else is self-defeating and entirely pointless. Taking things for what they are, along with offering acceptance, compassion and a neutral attitude, totally changes the way we see the world.
4. Doing stuff because other people are doing it.
Followers live frustrating, unempowered lives. This applies to anything and everything — opting into trends because a magazine said you should, working out a specific way because a celebrity does, choosing a certain job because your college roommates have similar gigs. Go your own way and embrace a deep and abiding sense of fulfillment that can’t be found by following the crowd.
That little voice in your head ALWAYS has the answer. Most of the time we fail to listen because it’s not telling us what we want to hear. Frequently, it asks us to do things that are hard or uncomfortable, but necessary. Do the hard thing now instead of the exponentially harder thing much later, and skip all the pain that comes from waiting way too long to make the right decision.
6. Consuming too much media.
Mass media (for the most part) sells itself on negativity. Avoiding it is the best way to stay true to your own instincts and beliefs, instead of being brainwashed by the often-distorted norms and values of pop culture. Limit computer time, TV viewing and other consumption as much as you can. When you do opt into media, try to stick with positive, life-affirming stuff.
7. Buying crap you don’t need.
Consumerism is the ultimate smoke screen, distracting us from everything worthwhile about our existence. We’ve been taught that buying stuff will fill the void and make us feel whole and beautiful and happy. It’s retail therapy to the extreme. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true. Filling our lives with MORE material crap clutters us up and steals our attention away from what’s truly valuable. Living more minimally is freeing for body, mind and spirit.
8. Being afraid of joy.
Often, this one’s lurking just beneath the surface, waiting to sabotage the next awesome opportunity that comes your way. For many, it’s entirely subconscious. In a culture of cynicism and worry, joy is outside the norm, so people tend to be afraid of it. When something wonderful happens, we convince ourselves that disaster is afoot — and self-fulfilling prophecies occur. Milking joy every chance we get is the best way to beat this self-defeating pattern.