by Paul Lenda
Oftentimes, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to growing and living a life full of true happiness. We sometimes make excuses for ourselves as to why we can’t overcome something or we don’t realize just how destructive our growth-inhibiting patterns of behavior really are. There comes a time when we just have to consciously acknowledge the reality that such habits are stopping us from experiencing a life of accomplishment, satisfaction, and success.
Make today that day when you change your life’s path and live a better life for yourself. This is your life…make it the most rewarding that it can possible be.
Putting things off – We make excuses as to why we put off doing something that would drastically change our lives for the better. One I hear quite often goes along the lines of “I know meditation can help me with this problem I’m having right now but I haven’t been doing it lately.” If you know a life-enhancing practice like meditation can help you make a problem disappear then why put it off? You are the one who benefits by doing it so why keep putting it off for the sake of doing something else (watching Youtube videos on and on or refreshing your Facebook newsfeed continuously for example)?
Not expressing gratitude – Our minds tend to sometimes direct towards the negative. We look at all the things we don’t have and feel worse as a result. There is always something we will not have…looking at life in this way will leave us forever unsatisfied. As Barry Kaufman once said, “gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there’s always something we could be grateful for.” Indeed there is…even something so simple as seeing a bright blue sky or taking a deep breath of crisp spring air, or even the very experience of existence….the existence some-thing rather than no-thing.
Being completely risk-averse – Avoidance of any kind of risk is a byproduct of a fear of the unknown and will lead to a very bland and uneventful life. If risks were never taken, you can be assured that humanity would still be in the stone age, if even that (do you think we’d have fire if our ancestors shied away from risk-taking?). By taking a risk, we embody courage or doing something we have not done before, even if it makes us uncomfortable.
Exploration, accomplishment, and determination are all things that come as a result of having courage and taking risks in life. Courage gives us the willingness to try out new things and deal with the changes and challenges of life. We can face our fears and transcend them in order to experience a more self-actualized life for ourselves.
Worrying about the what-ifs – If we constantly worried about what-if scenarios, we would never accomplish anything. Most of us allow fear to get the best of us and block us from setting out to do something. Worrying can only bring anxiety, stress, and sadness. Learning to let go of worries by realizing that sometimes the things we worry about are things we are unable to change right then and there.
We just have to accept the situation as it is since it may be bigger than we can handle and approach it with level-headed reasoning to see what positive action we can take to make it easier to deal with. If you are worried about how “everything gives you cancer”, for instance, then pick out a few of the biggest culprits that have known links to cancer and work on eliminating them from your life.
Focusing on things you don’t like – If I had a nickel for every time I heard somebody exert energy to talk about something they didn’t like, I could probably have bought a private island in Fiji by now. We all have the choice to either focus on something positive or negative. All thought is creative and if we are using up our energy on thoughts that are negative, we will in return feel worse and more negative.
The world is our mirror and if we focus on the things in people or society at large that we don’t like and feel aligned with, we are sabotaging our very own personal well-being! Instead of focusing on things that divide us, let us focus on the things that unite us and we will realize that many of the things we don’t like are because we have a different position of awareness than others, since we all see Reality through a subjective lens.
Playing the blame game – Putting blame on someone or something else shifts the focus away from there being anything unhelpful in what we may be doing and displaces it on external forces. If someone lost their job, they may put the blame on a boss they feel never liked them, another co-worker who they thought was a suck-up, or even the president/economy/oligarch bankers. Putting blame on someone or something doesn’t change the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in but it does stop us from being happy and having a positive state of mind.
This isn’t to say that we should blame ourselves, but we should take responsibility for having some degree of responsibility for what happened (of course there are exceptions but generally we have an effect on the reality that has unfolded) and look to how we can turn the situation around and get out of a low point in our lives.
Feeling we can’t change things – Apathy is a feeling of hopelessness, powerlessness and despair. If you look around you and see that others have attained what you wish you had, then this shows you that you can create the same reality for yourself, or at least one very close to it. We have the incredible ability to change things in our lives and in the lives of others. It takes will, courage, and determination though but once we have these as the driving forces to propel us into a motivated mindset, we can change things and we will change things.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and things that we want to change in our lives or in society at large won’t necessarily happen as fast as we would like them to but if we put forth the energy of change and transformation we will make a difference. Chase away the doubts and live the life you imagined. As one of the ancient Hawaiian Huna principles states, “there are no limits…energy flows where attention goes…all power comes from within.”
Being a perfectionist – If we are perfectionists we’ll be displeased with anything that isn’t perfect or doesn’t meet extremely high standards. Since achieving a state of perfection within any aspect of life is an impossible goal having such a mindset can seriously impact our mental health in a negative way. Perfectionism turns us into slaves of success so to speak, by keeping us focused on failure that results in a lifetime of doubt and depression.
Some people see it as something positive and it’s often seen as the pursuit of excellence, setting high standards, and working hard to challenge ourselves. We may say that perfectionism allows us to be efficient, organized, or prepared for anything but although having high standards and goals may help us achieve things in life, these standards can get in the way of our happiness and can actually impair our performance.
Not being forgiving – Rather than something we do for someone else, forgiveness can be one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Forgiveness benefits the forgiver, not the other way around. It brings us inner peace that does away with the suffering we cause ourselves through the unresolved anger and hurt we feel. Forgiveness benefits us physical, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Sure, it’s difficult to get ourselves to forgive someone for something we feel they did that was hurtful to us, but the alternative (resentment) can bring us hatred, turmoil and suffering.
Everything/everyone is currently operating at its own level of awareness and/or evolution. Everyone/everything is what it is right now because that’s what it needs to learn, or un-learn. People are what they are, and make mistakes, because they really don’t know otherwise or they don’t want to know otherwise. If they really knew otherwise, they would already be otherwise.
Looking for happiness outside of us – Happiness is an inside job yet we have a tendency to look to people and things external to us in order to raise our happiness. This search for happiness outside of ourselves is a byproduct of a void within us. It can show us that we do not have the self-love that is necessary to feel whole. We will feel lacking if we have not have a fully-realized relationship with our own selves and will look to fill that void with other people or other things.
If it’s other people, we may end up having a parasitic relationship with others in that we will feed off of their positivity and then leave them drained. This causes an unbalanced relationship and will cause it to fall apart as it all-too-often happens. Cultivate happiness within yourself, through things like meditation for starters, and you will find that you had the happiness you seek all along…inside of you.
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts, therefore guard accordingly; and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue, and reasonable nature.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus