Nobody consciously chooses to be unhappy, but you can cause yourself a lot (A LOT) of misery by engaging in negative mental habits and letting those habits rule your life. Keeping a healthy mindset is work and the outcomes we experience in life are often the result of our habits.
Eliminating these habits from your life is the first step to experiencing true happiness so that the joy of the Lord can rule over your heart.
Make an effort (and pray A LOT) to eliminate habits that negatively impact your happiness:
8 Negative Habits That Prevent Happiness
I enjoyed reading “How to stop worrying and start living” by Dale Carnegie. Of course, I NEVER worry (yea…riiiiiiight).
But, sometimes we are prone to worry. There are some folks that are literally SICK with worry because of all the stress that worry puts on the body. It can cause ulcers, nervous twitches, and a host of other sicknesses.
Instead of turning to pills, Dale Carnegie quotes various studies where “WORK” banished worries.
The reason is you can’t think about two things at the same time. So, if you are concentrating on a work (hobby, study, etc) then you won’t have time to worry about what ever it is that is “eating at you”.
While I don’t agree with many things about Charles Darwin, he had a few wise words when he said “If we don’t keep busy then we sit around and brood.” We hatch out a whole flock of what he called “Wibber Gibbers”. These are the little fluffy gremlins that wear us down, hollow us out and destroy our powers of action and will. (I think they are ‘fluffy’ because worry is sometimes distorted and exploded in size).
Worry is a spending too much time in the past or the future and it dampens our happiness. It’s challenging to be happy if you’re regretting the past or fearing the future. Learn from your past missteps and avoid dwelling on them. Try real hard to quit worrying about the future.
So, exterminate your wibber gibbers! Get BUSY. DO something. Don’t WORRY. If you foresee some potential challenges ahead, calmly prepare a solution in your mind. If you live in the present moment, being happy becomes much easier.
A scripture I’ve always found comforting if the Wibber Gibbers try to creep in is:
‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ Matt 6:34 NIV
2. Holding a grudge
Focusing on negative events creates unhappy feelings. Taken to the extreme, a grudge can lead to engaging in negative actions to get back at someone. Remember that old story about the Hatfields and the McCoys?
I think the perfect example given to us in the scriptures is the story of David, the shepherd turned king. He was hunted down by his best friend’s dad who was king. At one point David was hiding in the shadows and could have killed the king (much happened in the story, and David would have been accepted as the new king) BUT David didn’t hold a grudge. Even when his life was at stake. Wow. Talk about a lesson in letting go of negative feelings.
* Holding a grudge has been described as drinking poison and then expecting your enemy to suffer. Let go of your negative feelings toward others!
3. Having unreasonable timelines
Nearly any goal is reasonable. Unfortunately, it’s common to overestimate what can be accomplished in a certain amount of time. It took 10 years to pack on 40 pounds of extra weight. That’s not going to come off in 1 month. (P.S. If anyone finds the ‘magic’ pill, be sure to send it my way ) Interestingly, most individuals underestimate what’s possible over longer stretches. Approaching a project, concern, need in small, daily, bite-size chunks really can get you to that goal. Just be sure your timeline is reasonable.
* An overly optimistic estimation will leave you feeling defeated when you’re unable to attain your goal on schedule.
4. Embracing a victim mentality.
It’s common to search for excuses for our negative experiences. As an empty nest mom, some mom’s wail and cry and spend years in a depressed state because they perceive they are a ‘victim’ of the empty nest. We often try to justify staying in our current circumstances. You may very well be the victim of some unfortunate situation, but it’s your responsibility to work your way out of it.
I remember a preacher’s wife sharing how she had been ministering to a young woman in her church. The young lady’s past was wretched and horrible. She had been raped by her dad at a young age, repeated times. However, this young woman, while she had blamed that ordeal as the root of many of the ‘bad’ things in her life had decided she wanted to take control and overcome them. She didn’t want to be the victim anymore. I still shake my head in amazement that she DID overcome that negative circumstance in her life. But she DID it.
And we can too……
* Taking responsibility for the happenings in your life is powerful. Countless individuals have overcome incredible odds. You can certainly be among them!
5. Comparing yourself to others
Everyone starts with a unique set of talents, skills, and experiences. Beginning in the womb we are unique. I’ve always loved Psalm 139:14 because it says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” We are each made and thank goodness we aren’t cookie cutter copies. But why do we women fall into the “comparing” game? Avoid comparing yourself to others. If you want to make a comparison, compare yourself to YOU and your recent past.
* Are you heading in a positive direction? If so, you probably have a good reason to be excited. If not, it’s time to get busy making some changes.
6. Failing to learn from failure.
Let’s face it. Failure is rarely enjoyable, but it can be useful. Learn from your failures and apply that knowledge to your future attempts. Failure can be a great tool for moving toward success. Repeating the same errors will provide the same results. View failure as a learning opportunity.
7. A lack of gratitude.
Things are rarely as bad as they seem. Regularly reminding yourself of this can demonstrate that your life might be more wonderful than you realize. Use spare moments to mentally list the things that fill you with feelings of gratitude. It will allow happiness to enter your life. If you want practice gratitude in a FUN way I have The 21 Day Gratitude Game to help you!
8. Settling for low standards.
It’s possible to become comfortable with poor results. On one hand, you might be unhappy with where you are. On the other hand, trying for MORE seems scary.
* You’re unique and capable. You can have a wonderful, purpose filled life. Increase your expectations. There’s no reason to settle for less.
Certain habits make it more challenging to experience happiness. Identifying and eliminating these counterproductive habits can create the necessary space for happiness to enter your life. Enhance the quality of your habits and you’ll experience a more positive perspective on life. After all, everyone deserves to be happy.
When she’s not sweeping dog hair, experimenting in the kitchen, or doodling on paper, Kim C. Steadman is writing. She is a self-proclaimed cubicle-nation escapee and now lives her childhood dreams. Kim is a freelance writer, speaker and ministers alongside her family in Grand Prairie, TX. The acreage she and her husband care-take includes woods, fields and critters — all of which weave themselves into her writings.
Kim loves coffee, chocolate, and TexMex food. She also enjoys DIY projects that don’t include power saws & hiking in the mountains. Connect with her on Facebook at KimSteadmanAuthor