One of the most toxic mindsets that we’ve been sucked into is that of desiring completion. This fantasy that, once we reach the top of the mountain, our lives are going to be perfect.
As I am often too fond of quoting, life is pain. And anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something. And make no mistake, some folks make quite a bit of money by selling you this idea, by making you waste your time waiting for the weekend, for a vacation, for retirement, or for heaven.
There is no completion. There is no top of the mountain.
You know why?
Because when you reach the top of the mountain, all you see are other mountains that you have to climb.
Happiness is not about making a billion dollars, becoming famous, or finding your soulmate. Happiness is not about reaching some real or imaginary destination. Happiness is about enjoying day to day life, and to be honest with you, that’s what most people get wrong. So, so wrong.
Most people never get to find happiness in their daily lives because they are waiting for someday when the struggle will be over. They are consumed by this lack of completion, and thus they operate out of scarcity.
That’s how most people screw up their lives.
And the best eight ways that people destroy their chance at being happy on a daily basis are…
1. By taking everything personally.
Life is not fair, okay? It’s not easy, nothing’s free, and, generally speaking, the universe is indifferent.
But, you see, most people act by default as if the universe revolves around them.
Some people not only get sad because it rains, but they think it rains because they’re sad.
They lack perspective on how insignificant they are — one of nearly eight billion — and, as a result, they want to control everything.
They blame everything and everyone except themselves, and it holds them back from making the most out of their time here on this planet.
2. By finding a problem for every solution.
Take this pandemic/recession as an example, okay? Most folks are focusing their time and energy on what’s wrong in the world, what’s wrong in their lives, and they are lulled into a state of inaction.
If there’s no solution, there’s no point in even trying. After all, nobody wants to fight in a war that’s already lost before it even begins.
Miserable people find the worst in every situation. Instead of looking ahead and figuring out how to move forward, they either dwell on regrets of the past or worry about the future, both of which keep them from finding happiness and fulfillment in the present.
3. By lacking self-awareness.
I often say self-awareness is the closest thing to a super power these days.
If you do not have a properly defined self-image, and if you do not calibrate accordingly, you will spend an awful lot of time being miserable.
For example, let’s say you do not like what you see in the mirror. You can either change what you see in the mirror, or learn to accept it.
But most people don’t try either of those because they are time-consuming and painful processes, thus they lie to themselves.
They abandon self-awareness in order to pretend nothing’s wrong.
And I see this in most who try to promote positive thinking. Walking through a garden and chanting “There’s no weeds, there’s no weeds” won’t make the weeds go away. You have to pull them out, and if you’re not self-aware enough to tend to your own garden, guess what’s going to happen?
4. By wishing comfort above all else.
You screw up your life by being complacent to the point of becoming so lethargic that you can’t even react when your house is on fire.
If you never get off your couch and assume you’ll just magically stumble into your dreams one day, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
The more comfortable you are, the less proactive you become. Instead of making things happen, you will wait for things to happen.
You will stop being curious about the world around you. You will stop exploring the endless possibilities that are being offered to you on a daily basis.
You will be easily angered by anything that goes wrong, and the truth about day to day life is that often most things go wrong.
5. By not being able to say no.
To paraphrase Warren Buffet, the truly successful people among us say no to almost everything.
You’ve got to know when to say no.
Otherwise, you will slowly lose control over your life. You will become a passenger. A minor character in a movie that should have had you at its main star.
Saying no isn’t just important to your mental health, it’s also how you carve your own path. Knowing what you want to do now means that you have to say no to everything else that is clamoring for your attention.
Most people often feel tired because they have been constantly running all sorts of errands. There’s always so much to do. Well, they are simply too busy to be happy because they never say no to the things that don’t matter.
6. By not taking care of themselves.
One simple rule that I employ is HALT.
It’s always a bad idea to be doing anything when you are either hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. And if you’re all at the same time, which is what most people are at some point during the day, there’s no way to be happy.
Address the situation. That’s the obvious solution. But, yes, this requires self-awareness, and the truth is that if you do one of these things, you most probably do almost all of them.
The best way to take care of yourself is by doing all the things that are being passed around over and over again.
The goal isn’t to go overboard, but just to get enough sleep, to eat healthy and nutritious food, to be social, to get a workout at least once or twice a week.
Don’t abuse any substances, such as alcohol or drugs.
Day to day happiness is as simple as that.
7. By choosing the wrong people. Over and over again.
Don’t jump into relationships because you’re lonely. Don’t work in a toxic environment because the job pays well. Don’t hang out with negative people. None of these things are better than being alone, no matter how unpleasant solitude can be.
At first, it’s scary to be by yourself. Eventually, however, you’ll come to enjoy your own company.
And when you don’t feel this need for others, that’s when the right people will find you.
8. By not choosing their battles wisely.
The Stoics advised people that there were things that we couldn’t control. Like the weather. Or the economy. Or whether someone decides to leave us.
We have control over our thoughts, our emotions, and, most of the time, our actions.
One sure way to screw your day to day happiness is by trying to fight battles that you can’t win, trying to control events that can never, ever be controlled.
Like the way the Roman Emperor Caligula declared war on Neptune, the god of the sea.
Choose your battles wisely. There’s no reason why you should forfeit your happiness by trying to control what can’t be controlled.
You might think small steps don’t matter, but they do.
Be kind to people, and they’ll be kind to you. Don’t get offended so easily. Focus on finding solutions to your problems. Understand yourself. Take care of yourself. If you can’t find the right people, it’s better to be by yourself. And always ask yourself if something that worries or angers you is truly within your control or not.
Avoiding these things won’t give you a perfect life, but it’ll ensure you find happiness along the way, no matter where your life may lead you.