Unhappiness has less to do with your life circumstances than you might think. I’m not saying they don’t play an important role, but what’s equally important is the way you look at them.
A pessimistic outlook on life will surely create bad habits along the way. Such habits only serve to fuel your continuous bad mood. They’re harmful to your psyche, your health and last but not least, to the people around you. Unhappiness really drives people away, and it creates a vicious cycle that doesn’t allow you to achieve anything you want.
So here are five such troubling habits, identified by Dr. Travis Bradberry, a world-renowned expert in emotional intelligence. If any of them sound familiar enough, consider removing them from your routine:
1. Waiting for the future
Bradberry: “Telling yourself, ‘I’ll be happy when …’ is one of the easiest unhappy habits to fall into. How you end the statement doesn’t really matter (it might be a promotion, more pay, or a new relationship) because it puts too much emphasis on circumstances, and improved circumstances don’t lead to happiness. Don’t spend your time waiting for something that’s proven to have no effect on your mood. Instead focus on being happy right now, in the present moment, because there’s no guarantee of the future”
2. Spending too much time and effort acquiring “things”
Bradberry: “People living in extreme poverty experience a significant increase in happiness when their financial circumstances improve, but it drops off quickly above $20,000 in annual income. There’s an ocean of research that shows 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 hobbies”
3. Staying home
Bradberry: “When you feel unhappy, it’s tempting to avoid other people. 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 understand that the moment this becomes a tendency, it destroys your mood. Recognize when unhappiness is making you antisocial, force yourself to get out there and mingle, and you’ll notice the difference right away”
4. Sweeping problems under the rug
Bradberry: “Happy people are accountable for their actions. When they make a mistake, they own it. Unhappy people, on the other hand, find problems and mistakes to be threatening, so they try to hide them. Problems tend to get bigger when they’re ignored. The more you don’t do anything about a problem, the more it starts to feel as though you can’t do anything about it, and then you’re right back to feeling like a victim”
5. Trying to keep up with the Joneses
Bradberry: “Jealousy and envy are incompatible with happiness, so if you’re constantly comparing yourself with others, it’s time to stop. In one study, most subjects said that they’d be okay with making less money, but only if everybody else did too. Be wary of this kind of thinking as it won’t make you happy and, more often than not, has the opposite effect”