It’s not easy to be unhappy all of the time, especially when you’re dealing with recovering from narcissistic abuse – even more so if you’re still in the relationship or dealing with the after-effects of it. You have to really work at it by developing and maintaining habits that prevent happiness and encourage unhappiness. Just as certain habits will fill your bank account or keep your waistline under control, there are several habits that will ensure that you’re unhappy.
See how many of these habits you’re currently guilty of applying to your own life.
These habits create an environment that allows unhappiness to flourish:
Pessimism. Research shows that pessimists tend to be more accurate than optimists, but optimists are much happier! Expecting bad things to happen ruins your mood and increases the possibility of negative outcomes. This can be a challenging habit to change. Ask yourself what you’re gaining by holding negative expectations in your conscious awareness.
Failure to remain focused on the present. Everything that’s meaningful is happening in your life right now. The past is over, and much of the future is completely beyond your control.
Thinking about enjoyable experiences from the past is distracting. Focusing on negative past experiences creates regret. Any time spent thinking about the past is ultimately counterproductive.
Thoughts of the future create anxiety. When you focus on the future, you tend to worry and experience stress.
One of the biggest regrets anyone can have is the belief that they’ve wasted time. Spending too much time thinking about the future or the past is a waste of time and creates a more challenging present.
Placing too much emphasis on money and possessions. Our society places a premium on the wealth and impressive items that often accompany success. However, there is a poor correlation between wealth and happiness. Studies show that an income above $75,000 does nothing to increase happiness.
You’ll also find that the neighbors are a lot less concerned with your swimming pool and fancy car than you expected.
Being financially secure is a worthy goal. An obsession with wealth is more likely to create unhappiness than to cure it.
Comparing yourself to others. While everyone might look more or less the same, there are significant differences between people. Some have more education than others. Some had kinder parents. People come from different economic backgrounds. There are a plethora of differences between you and others.
The best comparison you can make is between your present self and your past self. Maybe you’re overweight, but if you’re less overweight than you were last week, you have plenty of reason to be happy with yourself.
An obsession with perfection. Striving for perfection is a waste of time. Do the spoons really need to be perfectly stacked in the drawer? Nothing can ever be 100% perfect, so you’re setting yourself up to be miserable. Creating a standard that can never be reached is unhealthy and unproductive.
Complete tasks at an appropriate level and avoid trying to be perfect. Consider how to best use your time. The time you spend on perfection could be spent on something else.
If you’re less happy than you’d like, your habits might be to blame. The way you view the world and engage with it has an impact on your ability to experience happiness. How many of these habits are you guilty of committing? Are there any other habits you have that could be contributing to your unhappiness?
Examine your own habits and look for habits you can drop or alter. Think about new habits you can create that will move you toward happiness, and instill those habits instead.
“You’ve got a lot of choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you’re not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice.” ~Steven D. Woodhull
As human beings, we are almost universally less than stellar at evaluating risk and reward.
Are you ever willing to bet $10 on a roulette wheel or the slot machine even though the odds are better than 50% that a loss will occur?
What about buying lottery tickets? Are those wise decisions according to logical assessments?
On the other hand, how willing are you to take social risks, like going up to an attractive member of the opposite sex and saying hello?
The risk is almost exactly zero, but the potential payoff is huge. Yet not many people will take this perceived risk even though this is a nearly perfect situation: very low risk and very high reward potential.
Are you assessing your life choices wisely?Our actions are largely determined by where we choose to focus our attention. If you emphasize the positive aspects of something and minimize the downside, you’re likely to take that action. If you have the opposite focus, you’re unlikely to do it.
So what’s the right way to make a decision?
Consider the Positives
Are you considering all the ways the risk could pay off? In the example above, you could make a new friendship.
You might get a new career out of it. You might meet your spouse or a new golfing buddy. Think about all the potential benefits of taking the risk you have in mind. Make a mental list.
Some people try to minimize the upside as an excuse not to move forward.
Be honest with yourself. Avoid giving in to anxiety and making light of the potential rewards. And remember, People who are guided by fear tend to have smaller, less satisfying lives.
Don’t Forget the Other Side
Are you maximizing or minimizing the downside of your decision? Are you focused on the fact that you might be embarrassed or rejected? Or do you tell yourself that it’s no big deal and that at the very least they’ll probably be flattered?
One approach will get you where you want to go. The other will likely keep you where you are–so, in a normal, relatively safe situation, try adjusting your perspective to the most positive possible outcomes.
Read carefully, friends: maximizing the imagined risk is a sure way to stay stuck.
Minimizing the risk will make it much easier to move forward. If you’re 100 percent honest with yourself, you’ll see that you probably have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Really consider this for a moment. What would you do that you don’t do now? How would your life change? Imagine the freedom you would have to move through the world according to your deepest needs and desires.
If you can learn to laugh at yourself and not take these types of things too seriously, you’ll be much better off.
You can either laugh now and smile when you get older, or you can kick yourself when you get older because you squandered so many opportunities. Be brave, be true to yourself and go out there and take some (calculated) risks! You deserve to be happy, successful and fulfilled. Here’s just one more way you can get there.
So the next time you’re faced with a decision that involves your ego, think about the real risk involved rather than an imagined risk. The average person’s aversion to embarrassing himself is a huge handicap to reaping all the great things that life has to offer.
Do your best to accurately assess risk and then take the action that makes sense. This gets easier every time. Before you know it, your friends will say you’re the bravest person they know.
How do you handle decisions? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below!