Don’t Get Stuck in One of These Negativity Traps
Happiness is something we all strive to attain, and yet it can be a struggle to get there. Circumstances—not to mention genes—can have a major impact on our moods. But research shows that much of our happiness depends on small choices we make on a day-to-day basis. Here on livehappy.com, we have chronicled many of the practices that happy people do on a regular basis. But what about the potentially disastrous, joy-killing choices that some of us fall into without even realizing it? We thought it would be just as important to learn the top behaviors that the happiest people don’t do.
1. Happy people don’t worry too much about what others think
Happy people are still human, and everyone cares a little about what others think. But the difference is that happy people don’t ruminate or obsess about others’ opinions of them. They value other people’s perspectives and are open to advice and guidance, but happy people ultimately stay true to their core beliefs and don’t waver from them—even if that means not fitting in with everyone else.
2. Happy people don’t waste time doing things they dislike
While there are always going to be things we don’t like doing (laundry, taxes, etc.), happy people don’t waste time on activities that they don’t have to do and don’t enjoy. Happy people don’t spend time watching TV shows they don’t love; they don’t attend events that make them feel anxious; they don’t stay in careers that don’t fill them with joy. One of the greatest secrets of happy people is that they know what they don’t enjoy, and they don’t waste time on it out of a sense of fear, inertia or obligation.
3. Happy people don’t try to manipulate or change other people
Happy people know that change is an inside job, and the only way people change is if they want to. This knowledge is essential to happy living because it means not wasting time trying to manipulate others. Most happy people aren’t shy about sharing their opinions or thoughts, but they’re aware that they cannot force transformation in others (and that trying to do so will only be a waste of time). Instead they focus on what they can do to take themselves out of a negative situation.
4. Happy people don’t allow themselves to stay stuck in the past
Focusing too much on the past is one of the quickest ways to become unhappy, and this is something that happy people inherently know to be true. While happy people do pay attention to—and strive to learn from—things that have happened in the past, they’re careful not to spend too much time ruminating on what was. Happy people know that the present is much more valuable than the past, and they focus most of their attention on the now.
5. Happy people don’t obsess over what might happen in the future
It’s important to plan for the future, but it’s detrimental to obsess and worry over what might happen. Happy people know that there are a great many things they cannot control, and the future is one of them. Rather than worrying about what could go wrong, happy people strive to prepare as best they can and then direct their attention back to the present moment.
6. Happy people don’t strive to achieve absolute perfection
Perfectionism is the enemy of happiness, and happy people are well aware of this. Though they strive to do their best and aim high with their goals, they aren’t caught up in having “perfect” lives or being the “perfect” spouse, worker or parent. They don’t try to compare their real lives to those “highlight reel” images on Instagram and Facebook. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
7. Happy people don’t forget to be thankful for what they have
One of the quickest ways to access lasting happiness is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Happy people spend more time thinking about what they’re lucky to have and very little time wishing for things they don’t have. They look for and find the silver lining in a bad situation, and are able to remind themselves of just how fortunate they are.
8. Happy people don’t value material possessions over experiences
Scientific research has shown that people who use their money to buy experiences such as travel, sporting activities and outings to the theater enjoy a greater, more prolonged sense of happiness than those who spend money on objects. The happiest people seem to have figured this out; they value activities such as spending time with friends and family, traveling to new places and stepping outside of their comfort zones.
9. Happy people don’t seek fulfillment in the wrong places
For happy people, fulfillment doesn’t come from the size of their bank accounts, the amount of likes on social media or the type of car they drive. Happy people see fulfillment in meaningful things—connections with others, spirituality and meaning, and rewarding career paths. They know that status symbols are not as valuable in the long run as a sense of belonging and giving back to the community and the world at large.
10. Happy people don’t stay in negative situations for long
Perhaps most important of all, happy people don’t stay in negative situations or tolerate negative people in their lives. Happy people find a way to leave situations, careers and relationships that cause excessive amounts of stress. They avoid spending time with people who dwell on the negative. And under no circumstances do they tolerate emotional or physical abuse.
While some people have, by default, happier temperaments than others, happiness is something that requires dedication and hard work. If you’re looking for more happiness in your life, don’t just think about the practices such as meditation, exercise and good sleep habits, but also consider this list of don’ts, so you won’t get stuck in a negativity trap.
Dani DiPirro is an author, blogger and designer living in a suburb of Washington, D.C. In 2009, she launched the website PositivelyPresent.com with the intention of sharing her insights about living a positive and present life. Dani is the author of Stay Positive, The Positively Present Guide to Life and a variety of e-books. She is also the founder of Twenty3, a design studio focused on promoting positive, modern graphic design and illustration.