For the longest time, I just wasn’t very happy or even just content. Every day was the same, and that was something I needed to change.
At the same time, my wife was also dissatisfied with her job, and we decided things had to change.
There wasn’t an easy fix. We had to upend our lives going forward, and along the way, we learned how to be happy again.
This is our story.
1) Avoiding your passions and dreams instead of pursuing them
Look, it’s simple, neglecting your passions and dreams will leave you unfulfilled. If you’re stuck in a crappy job, you’ll never be happy.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a weekend warrior and you go on wild adventures on Saturdays and Sundays.
The fact is that we spend so much time at work that it makes us miserable. Until you find an interesting and fulfilling job every three years, you won’t be truly happy.
Why every three years? Well, because everything gets boring after some time, and our interests change over time, too.
So, instead of avoiding them, pursue your interests and aspirations. That’s what both of us did, and this change resulted in a more meaningful and satisfying life for us.
We didn’t find new jobs. We founded a company and finally worked for ourselves on things that made us happy.
In other words, we found our Ikigai.
2) Worrying about things that are beyond your control
Another thing that helped me be truly happy was to stop worrying about things out of my control. My wife still struggles with this.
Worrying about stuff we can’t control is good for one thing and one thing only – anxiety and stress.
That doesn’t mean I don’t follow the news or don’t stay on top of pressing issues we all face, like wars, climate change, and AI.
But instead of fretting over the uncontrollable, I focus on what I can influence. I can recycle, walk more instead of using my car, send money to people affected by war, raise awareness, and similar.
This mindset helped me reduce anxiety about these things, and I now sleep like a baby again.
3) Constantly comparing yourself to others
If you want to have bad self-confidence, the best thing you can do is compare yourself to others.
There’s no real merit in doing it because you only get to see the best side of people on social media. You don’t see what’s really going on behind the facade.
You don’t see their blood, sweat, and tears. You only see their perfect home, spouse, new cars, trips, etc.
That can easily make you envious and want to be perfect just like them. But we all know life doesn’t work like that.
Once I stopped trying to keep up with the Joneses, I felt more content with my own life.
So do yourself a favor and stop comparing yourself to others if you want to be truly happy in life.
4) Ignoring your physical health instead of staying active and eating well
Another mistake I made many times in my life was neglecting my mental and physical health.
This landed me in a world of trouble, from high blood pressure to high cholesterol and so on. I also had less energy for the things I loved doing.
Most people think you need to work out every day to stay healthy. And while that is beneficial, the science says that even if you work out only two days, say on the weekends, you can still maintain a healthy body.
Now that I work out regularly and eat as healthy as I can, I feel better, have more energy, and don’t have health issues anymore.
5) Procrastinating when you know you should be taking action
You know that feeling when you put things off, and it starts to stress you out? Like when you have a big project looming over you, and you keep delaying it.
Well, instead of procrastinating, try breaking that project into smaller, more manageable steps.
Then, tackle them one by one. It’s like taking bites out of a big sandwich one at a time instead of trying to devour the whole thing at once.
This approach can help you feel accomplished with each step you complete and, in the end, reduce that overwhelming stress.
You’re turning a mountain into a series of manageable hills.
6) Overthinking everything instead of going with the flow
I always did this. I’d overthink stuff until I came up with an excuse not to do something and give up.
It’s like your brain goes into overdrive, considering every possible scenario, and suddenly you’re frozen, unable to take any action at all.
But when you learn to trust your intuition a bit more and take a more adaptable approach, you might find that things fall into place more naturally, leading to better results in the end.
It’s all about finding that sweet spot between thinking and doing.
7) Living in the past instead of embracing the present
I’ve made many mistakes in the past that I’m not proud of. And the worst part about them – I kept reliving them in my mind, not being able to let go.
Dwelling on the past can seriously mess with your present happiness. Instead of being stuck in a time loop, try focusing on the here and now.
Many people also struggle with holding onto grudges. Clinging onto grudges can feel like carrying a weight on your shoulders, affecting your emotional well-being and relationships.
Instead of holding onto resentment, try to let go. Forgiveness paves the way for more positive and fulfilling connections.
8) Surrounding yourself with negative people who bring you down
Show me the people a person hangs out with, and I’ll tell you all about the person. In other words, you’re the average of the friends you spend your time with.
Surrounding yourself with negative people brings down your own mood and perspective. Choose to spend time with those who uplift and inspire you, and you’ll already be happier.
If that means shedding some of your old friends, so be it.
9) Being too hard on yourself instead of practicing self-compassion
Imagine you’re constantly beating yourself up over every little mistake. This self-criticism quickly takes a toll on your self-esteem and confidence.
But here’s the thing: you can change that. Instead of being your own harshest judge, start practicing self-compassion.
Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you’d extend to a friend. This simple shift can do wonders for your self-worth and overall well-being.
10) Seeking perfection instead of striving for progress
“Perfection is the enemy of progress.”
– Winston Churchill
Consider Winston Churchill’s wise words. This means that if you’re always aiming for perfection, you’ll never move forward.
So, instead of obsessing over every detail, why not shift your focus to progress and personal growth?
Think of it as making a cake where you enjoy the process and appreciate the unique flavor of imperfections.
Your life becomes more like a fun, adventurous baking experiment. Embracing imperfections can lead to a more relaxed and fulfilling life, just like savoring a cake that’s not perfect but is still incredibly delicious.
11) Burning the candle at both ends
That’s all good and fine when you’re young and have plenty of time for yourself. However, once I became a dad, I realized that to be truly happy, I had to work less and spend more time with my son.
Neglecting the work-life balance results in burnout and decreased happiness and fulfillment.
So, instead of neglecting your needs, prioritize activities like exercise, relaxation, and hobbies. Start focusing on your friends and family more and leave work where it belongs, at work.
This shift will result in better mental and physical health and more happiness.
12) Staying in your comfort zone instead of taking risks
Choosing to play it safe and sticking with what you know can feel comfortable, but it often holds you back from growing and experiencing new things.
Instead of shying away from risks, try stepping outside your comfort zone and taking on challenges, even if they seem a bit daunting.
This shift in attitude has proven to open the door to personal growth and a wealth of enriching experiences that you might have otherwise missed out on.
Once I welcomed feeling uncomfortable, I counterintuitively started feeling happier.
There’s no silver bullet to feeling happier. You need to change your mindset and actively work on feeling better, healthier, and more comfortable in your skin.