“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn
Happiness came sometimes feel elusive, leaving us on a never-ending search for those things in life that will ‘flip the switch,’ leading us to a place of true joy and happiness. It feels as though that beautiful feeling may be just around the corner – as soon as you find that special person to share your life with, once you are a parent after you finally land that perfect career or as long as there is enough money in the bank. What if the reason you haven’t found true happiness yet in life isn’t what you don’t have, but rather what you are holding onto that isn’t meant for you?
Experts define happiness as being more than just experiencing a positive mood – it is a state of living a life that can be described as being ‘good,’ providing you with a sense of satisfaction and purpose. This would, then, suggest that to find happiness is more than finding one specific aspect of our lives. For example, if you get that job promotion, is it going to provide satisfaction in all areas of your life, or are you just happy in your career? This complex question is one that philosophers, psychologists, and theologians have debated for years.
This quest to find happiness and fulfillment in our lives has sparked an entire industry, with the rise of the $10 billion-a-year self-help industry. Books, DVDs, webinars, and public speakers dedicate their lives to sharing their interpretation of happiness and how they achieved it.
There may be an easier way to take steps towards your own personal happiness. Rather than searching for some guaranteed path or secret equation to happiness and success in life, why not start by assessing the things that are currently either moving you forward or holding you back. According to the Mayo Clinic, one little-known key to happiness is taking the time to let go of grudges, anger, bitterness and other such toxic influences. What negative influences are you still holding onto?
Learn to let go of these 12 things if you are looking to find happiness:
#1 – Toxic People
Just as there are people who will help you to move forward, achieving your goals in life, there are also going to be those who hold you back. Whether they are discouraging you, tearing your down or poisoning your thoughts with their negativity – you need to release these people from your life in order to be free of the anchor that they represent.
#2 – Beliefs and Ideals You No Longer Subscribe To
Throughout life, we all change and grow, as do our beliefs, goals, morals, and ideals. If you are in a position where you view life from a different perspective now, let go of the beliefs and ideals that no longer fit with your vision of the world around you.
#3 – Need for Acceptance
While it is completely healthy to expect respect and appreciation from the people in your lives, such as friends, family and coworkers the sooner you stop judging your worth and success on their acceptance the sooner you will take a giant step towards true happiness.
#4 – Grudges
Holding onto to anger and resentment is only going to spoil your happiness, it won’t have any impact on the person who has upset you. So, what do you have to gain? Let go of your grudges and release yourself from the negative influence that they have on your life.
#5 – Impossible Standards
There are some standards in life that are completely acceptable and understandable. However, take the time to re-evaluate just how realistic those standards may be. You aren’t superhuman, and expecting yourself to be is only setting yourself up for failure.
#6 – Living Beyond Your Means
Don’t waste your time trying to keep up with those around you, this is a never-ending quest that will always leave you falling short of someone while simultaneously driving yourself into debt. This debt causes more stress, leaving you even more unhappy than you were, to begin with.
#7 – Your Desire to ‘Fit In’
Many people go through life desperate to fit into society, and their efforts can leave them feeling unhappy or as though they are not ‘good enough.’ The world we live in is made up by scores of very different, very unique people, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Rather than trying to become something you’re not, embrace who you are!
#8 – The Belief that Life is Fair
If you go through life believing that everything is going to be fair and just, you will find yourself disappointed and it likely won’t take long. The truth is that while life is anything but fair, and some of the most amazing people fail. It’s what you do with that reality that defines your happiness.
#9 – Comparisons
Each of us is traveling our own journey – at our own pace and in our own way. Comparing ourselves to others is only setting ourselves up for disappointment, as there will always be someone further along in life than you are at your stage. Rather than judging your life in comparison to someone else, look at your life in comparison to where you were a day ago, a week ago, etc.
#10 – Regret
Nearly every one of us has something we can look back at in our lives and wish that we had done differently, however, the fact is that it is now behind us and there is nothing that we can do to change it. Holding onto regret only poisons our lives moving forward for something that is now out of our control.
#11 – Your Need for Comfort
There are two different ways to live your life – staying safe within your ‘comfort zone,’ or branching out and taking risks. It is only through stepping out of your comfort zone, taking risks and discovering new things that you will discover happiness.
#12 – Believing You Don’t Deserve Happiness
While it may be hard to accept, you will never reach a point of happiness in your life unless you accept that you deserve to. Those who subscribe to the thought that they are unworthy of happiness go through life subconsciously sabotaging any chances they may have. You must open the door to happiness before it will be welcome in your life.
Image via Mike Bilz