We’re obsessed with happiness! How can we find it and keep it alive?
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, psychology professor at the University of California, known as “the queen of happiness,” discovered that we all have a happiness “set point.” When extremely positive or negative events happen—such as buying a bigger house or losing a job—they temporarily increase or decrease our happiness, but we eventually drift back to our set point.
According to Dr. Lyubomirsky’s research, you can make yourself happier—permanently. Lyubomirsky has found that our genetic set point is responsible for only about 50% of our happiness, life circumstances affect about 10%, and a great part 40% is completely up to us. The large portion of your happiness that you control is determined by your habits, attitude, and outlook on life.
“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” ~ Aristotle
Even when you accomplish something great, that happiness won’t last. It won’t make you happy on its own; you have to work to make and keep yourself happy.
Your happiness, or lack thereof, is rooted in your habits. Permanently adopting new habits—especially those that involve intangibles, such as how you see the world—is hard, but breaking the habits that make you unhappy is much easier. Doing so requires emotional intelligence, a skill that you can measure with an emotional intelligence test.
There are numerous bad habits that tend to make us unhappy. You should eradicate these bad habits to move closer to your happiness set point.
12 Things You Should Avoid If You Want to Be Happy
1. Immunity to awe. “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.”
Amazing things happen around you every day if you only know where to look. Few things are as uplifting as experiencing true awe. True awe is humbling. It reminds us that we’re not the center of the universe. Awe is also inspiring and full of wonder, underscoring the richness of life and our ability to both contribute to it and be captivated by it. It’s hard to be happy when you just shrug your shoulders every time you see something new.
2. Isolating yourself. Isolating yourself from social contact is a pretty common response to feeling unhappy. This is the worst thing you can do. This is a huge mistake, as socializing, even when you don’t enjoy it, is great for your mood. We all have those days when we just want to pull the covers over our heads and refuse to talk to anybody, but the moment this becomes a tendency, it destroys your mood. You need to force yourself to get out there and mingle.
3. Blaming. We need to feel in control of our lives in order to be happy. When you blame other people or circumstances for the bad things that happen to you, you’ve decided that you have no control over your life, which is terrible for your mood.
4. Controlling. It’s hard to be happy without feeling in control of your life, but you can take this too far in the other direction by making yourself unhappy through trying to control too much. The only person you can control in your life is you. Even if you can control someone in the short term, it usually requires pressure in the form of force or fear, and treating people this way won’t leave you feeling good about yourself.
5. Criticizing. Criticizing other people (even privately or to ourselves) is just a bad habit that’s intended to make us feel better about ourselves. You feel good while you’re doing it, but afterwards, you feel guilty and sick.
6. Complaining. Complaining is a self-reinforcing behavior. By constantly talking—and therefore thinking—about how bad things are, you reaffirm your negative beliefs. While talking about what bothers you can help you feel better, there’s a fine line between complaining being therapeutic and it fueling unhappiness. Beyond making you unhappy, complaining drives other people away.
7. Impressing. Trying to impress other people is a source of unhappiness, because it doesn’t get to the source of what makes you happy—finding people who like you and accept you for who you are. All the things you acquire in the quest to impress people won’t make you happy either. Research has shown that material things don’t make you happy. When you make a habit of chasing things, you are likely to become unhappy because, beyond the disappointment you experience once you get them, you discover that you’ve gained them at the expense of the real things that can make you happy, such as friends, family, and taking good care of yourself.
8. Negativity. Life won’t always go the way you want it to. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, reflect on everything you have to be grateful for. Then find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to get bad things. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.
9. Hanging around negative people. It can be emotionally draining just being around negative people, and you must be careful because their negative attitudes and opinions are venomous and contagious. Negativity perpetuates itself, breeds dissatisfaction and clutters the mind. And when the mind is cluttered with negativity, happiness is hard to come by.
Ignore these people and move on from them when you must. Every time you subtract negative from your life, you make room for more positive.
You should strive to surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who make you want to be better. Anyone who makes you feel worthless, anxious, or uninspired is wasting your time and, quite possibly, making you more like them. Life is too short to associate with people like this. Cut them loose and move on.
10. Neglecting to set goals. Having goals gives you hope and the ability to look forward to a better future, and working towards those goals makes you feel good about yourself and your abilities. It’s important to set goals that are challenging, specific (and measurable), and driven by your personal values. Without goals, instead of learning and improving yourself, you just live your life wondering why things never change.
11. Giving in to fear. Fear is nothing more than a lingering emotion that’s fueled by your imagination.
You will regret the chances you didn’t take far more than you will your failures. Don’t be afraid to take risks. The worst thing that can happen to you is allowing yourself to die inside while you’re still alive.
12. Leaving the present. Like fear, the past and the future are products of your mind. No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future. Happy people focus on living in the present moment. It’s impossible to reach your full potential if you’re constantly somewhere else, unable to fully embrace the reality (good or bad) of the very moment. To live in the moment, you must do two things:
1) Accept your past. If you don’t make peace with your past, it will never leave you and it will create your future. The only good reason to look at the past is to see how far you’ve come.
2) Accept the uncertainty of the future, and don’t place unnecessary expectations upon yourself. Worry has no place in the here and now.
“Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” ~ Mark Twain
Even though we can’t control our genes, and we can’t control all of our circumstances, we can rid ourselves of bad habits that serve no purpose other than to make us miserable.
What makes you happy? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.
Original Article published by Huffingtonpost.com