I think I speak for everyone when I say that we all want to be happy in life.
And, as most of us can probably guess, we are a product of the things we do.
Just like some things we do in life make us happy, there are so many habits that can make us sad.
Sometimes, we can do these things without even realizing they’re making us sad (I know I certainly have).
But taking some time to reflect on your habits and maybe letting them go can make a big difference in how good you feel in life.
If you’ve been feeling unhappy lately, take a look at these 7 things that could be bringing you down (and learn how to stop doing them!).
1) Complaining about every minor inconvenience
Think about your recent conversations with friends, family, and work colleagues.
How positive are the things you say? Do you immediately jump to negative conclusions when people tell you good news? And do you complain more than you celebrate?
It’s easy to get caught up in a negative way of thinking and speaking.
Even though complaining can help us process stress and bond with others, the good that comes from it can outweigh the bad if we do it too often (according to psychologists).
Complaining too much can create a negative mindset. And a negative mindset can only make you feel worse long-term.
If you spot this habit in yourself, try to catch yourself next time you start complaining about something or responding negatively.
Whether that’s in your head or out loud. And think about a positive way of framing the thing instead.
When trying this out, start small and work your way up to bigger things. This way, it’ll feel more manageable and achievable.
2) Dwelling on the bad in life
“Always look on the bright side of life”.
Have you heard that saying? Who are we kidding, of course you have!
There’s a reason this saying is so popular: sticking to it makes us feel better.
Dwelling on the bad that has happened to us (or could happen to us) can leave us constantly living in the past or living for a “one day”.
But research has shown that living in the present reduces your anxiety, increases feelings of productivity, and improves your mood.
Meditating daily is a great way to start appreciating the little things in life and living in the present, rather than dwelling on the past.
As is journalling or talking to a therapist (or even just a trusted friend).
Give different things a try and see what works for you.
While journalling doesn’t work for everyone, other ways of processing the past and living more for the here and now can help you feel happier in daily life.
3) Not setting goals (or keeping track of achieving them)
Setting goals in life makes us feel more optimistic, resilient, and happier, according to research.
When we set goals, we create a sense of purpose for ourselves.
And according to even more research, the two main factors that contribute to our overall happiness are having “meaning” and “achievement”.
Setting goals for ourselves – no matter how big or small – gives us meaning. It gives us something to work towards every single day.
And keeping track of those goals provides a sense of achievement when we’ve done something we set out to do.
Therefore, it makes sense that not having goals in life doesn’t make us feel quite as optimistic about the future. So it’s a good way to go if you want to feel happier in life.
Even if your goal is just to stop doing something on this list for a week!
4) Beating yourself up about unachieved goals
Yes, we should be setting goals to continuously develop ourselves. And yes, we should keep track of our goals if we want to achieve what we want in life.
But we should also cut ourselves some slack.
Life is busy and a little bit crazy sometimes. Unexpected things happen all the time.
From being heartbroken or falling out with a friend, to a parent getting sick or losing a job suddenly, there are so many things in life that are outside of our control.
No matter how much we plan or track our goals, there are some things we’ll never be able to plan for.
We just have to be resilient enough to adapt to change and keep on going.
And, every step along the way, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about the things we didn’t get around to doing this year/month/week/lifetime if we want to find true happiness.
5) Procrastinating (when we know we really, really shouldn’t)
Leaving things to the last minute and rushing to get it done in time always feels so good (said no person ever!).
Procrastination is something we all fall victim to at some point or another.
And we should, once again, cut ourselves some slack for doing it!
After all, hustle culture has made us believe we need to be productive 24/7 to be “successful” in life.
And while this couldn’t be further from the truth (we all need a break sometimes), we shouldn’t put things off all the time.
Running around like a headless chicken all the time because we’ve left everything to the final hour doesn’t feel good.
And it’s something you should definitely stop if you want to be truly happy in life.
6) Snoozing (sob)
Don’t we all love sleeping in? Getting those extra zed’s when we’re feeling especially tired (which, let’s face it, is all the time for most of us, isn’t it?) feels so good.
Skipping the morning gym class or going for a run to snooze feels okay when we’re tucked up in bed.
But, more often than not, you’ll probably start to regret it as the day goes on.
Especially if you keep snoozing, snoozing, snoozing that alarm until another week has gone by, and you still haven’t been to the gym in the morning once.
Or you haven’t gone in to work early to get ahead of things. Or woken up earlier so you can look especially nice for school.
It’ll feel good at the time, but we all know it won’t make us feel happier in ourselves long-term.
7) Not looking after your body
Many, many, many studies have told us over the years about how important it is to look after our bodies.
Which is why it absolutely has to be on this list.
The mental health benefits of looking after yourself are clear. As are the physical benefits.
Drinking enough water stops us from getting daily headaches and makes us feel more alert.
Exercising reduces anxiety and boosts our self-esteem.
Eating healthily makes us think clearly and feel more alert in daily life.
And getting enough sleep at night reduces stress and improves your overall mood when awake.
We all know it makes us feel better when we’re fitter, healthier, and have gotten enough sleep.
So quit staying up late, skipping the gym, and always opting for takeout over a healthy home-cooked meal if you want to feel truly happy in life.
What we do in our daily lives defines us. Sometimes in a good way, and sometimes in a bad way.
The good news is that we can choose our habits (to a certain extent).
There are so many things in life we can’t control (like if a bird messes on you when you leave the house, or if the love of your life breaks your heart).
But there are also many things in life we can control.
Focusing on what you can control and adopting habits that make you feel good are the best ways to live a happier life.
Just remember to always cut yourself some slack when times get rough. Tomorrow is always another day, and you can start again anytime.
Take things one step at a time and eventually, you can slowly cut out the bad habits and replace them with the good.
And feel so much better for it!