1) Put off happiness.
We often put off happiness to the future while we keep our focus on pursuing goals. This has been called the “I’ll be happy when” syndrome. For example, I’ll be happy when I lose 10kgs, when I have that job, when I can lift that weight, when I get that pay rise, when I have that partner, when I have that car, this list goes on. But once you get there, you will realise your goal keeps raising and you’re just as unhappy as before. So, you move onto the next “I’ll be happy when…” pushing happiness out even further.
Instead, work on choosing happiness now and you will find that you will actually reach those goals faster because science is now showing that happiness is a competitive advantage. Watch this Ted talk that explains how happiness is the edge you need to hit your goals: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXy__kBVq1M
2) Stay in.
Especially in the colder months it is very tempting to stay in and keep warm, but unhappy people tend to want to avoid spending time with others. Yet socializing, even if you don’t think you’re “good at it” or don’t necessarily want to, can be great for your mood. Sometimes it can be as simple as walking around your neighbourhood and being in the presence of others.
3) Stay inactive.
We all know that exercise released happy hormones and can give you a boost in energy and mood, and people who exercise regularly are happier than folks who don’t. Researchers from Penn State University have found that the people who are more active (exercise more often) report “greater general feels of excitement and enthusiasm” compared to people who don’t.
4) Eat crappy food.
Although comfort foods can make you feel good while you are eating them, science shows that junk food not only has a negative impact on your mood and mental health, but that healthy foods can offer the same ‘feel good’ effect while eating. We all know the feeling of being bloated, tired, guilty, ashamed, and guessed it, unhappy, after eating junk. So next time you feel like endulging, try to eat something that is healthy but also tasty before you do and see how you feel.
5) Are material girls and boys.
We are now exposed to hundreads of advertisements every day, and most advertisements are telling us what we are missing and how their product will make us happy, and yes it may make us feel good temporarily, but it makes the problem worse because it creates a positive feedback loop and your brain will then crave more and more.
If you think that getting what you want will make you happy, then once you have it and it doesn’t make you happier, you actually feel even worse.
“The most important things in life aren’t things.” So instead of chasing things, try these two alternatives.
First, chase experiences, dinner with friends, climbing a mountain, achieving a physical goal.
Second, chase positive internal states, such as peace and joy through meditation, or gratitude through helping others.
6) Play the victim.
Many people live life as though the world is against them and that they do not have any control over their experience. Yes, of course, life is difficult and tough experiences do happy to us, our loved ones get sick and we will too, but this philosophy of helplessness can make a hard situation unbearable for yourself and everyone around you. The trick to life is to understand that suffering is part of life, and it is our job to accept that responsibility and make the choice to ensure that no one else has to suffer any more than is necessary, and to find joy and happiness in the darkness. When you take this challenge your brain is now in a posture of strength and will begin to see the opportunities, the ability to see how the world works for you can help you regain some of that control to find your own happiness.
7) Have a fixed mindset.
People with a “fixed mindset” say such things as:
“I was just born this way,”
“this is the way I’ve always been,”
“I’ll never change.”
Professor Carol Dweck explains how adopting a Growth Mindset as opposed to a Fixed Mindset can be life-changing and life-reaffirming, leading to happiness you never knew possible. Watch the video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiiEeMN7vbQ
8) Regret past choices.
We all have regrets in life, but they are what make us who we are today. Unhappy people have regrets that they can not forgive themselves of and it can also be quite harmful, leading to chronic stress and depression. The trick is to see the regrets as positives, and learnings instead of failures. We need to take regrets and:
- learn from them
- let them go
- reframe them to be more positive
If you find yourself in a negative memory feedback loop (reliving a bad choice over and over again), instead of staying stuck in the past, try to remember something happy to help lead you back to feeling more positive. Because after all “You never lose. You either win or you learn.” Nelson Mandela
9) Lack gratitude.
We have all heard that gratitude is one of the keys to happiness and that many unhappy people tend to be unable to (or better said, choose not to) see all of the blessings they currently have in their lives. Professor Brene Brown talks about the relationship between joy and gratitude and offers a few tips on how to cultivate more joy in your own life. Watch this video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IjSHUc7TXM
Oprah Winfrey: “If you look at what you have in life, you will always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you will never have enough.”