Want to Be Happier? Stop Doing These 3 Things

Happiness is easier to find if you don't look in the wrong places.

Posted Dec 25, 2018

Erickson Stock/Shutterstock
Source: Erickson Stock/Shutterstock

Based on all I have seen firsthand and read over 30 years as a psychologist and personal coach, there are three things people do that get in the way of feeling happy:

1. Chasing after it.

A nod here to Shawn Achor, who has a great TED Talk entitled "How to Be Happy." His bottom line and highly compelling message is to stop looking outside of yourself for happiness. Expecting a new purchase to bring you sustainable happiness is misguided. Sure, it is easy to believe that getting that promotion, pay raise, or being the top salesperson at the office will make you happy. But happiness solely based on achievements does not last long. Similarly, the fallacious notion that getting the next good grade or losing ten pounds will bring you happiness does not fly with reality. And for that matter, expecting a relationship partner to make you happy is not realistic or fair, either! 

2. Negatively comparing yourself to others.

If you frequently compare yourself to others, you will make yourself miserable. There will always be a faster gunslinger, sooner or later. Most professional athletes with healthy expectations know that their outstanding achievements and records will likely be broken one day. Along these lines, constantly comparing yourself to a seemingly more successful colleague, family member, or peer will leave you devaluing yourself and feeling empty inside. 

3. Not having an attitude of gratitude.

Countless studies have shown that being grateful leads to happiness. I have a sign in my office, given to me by a very insightful client. It reads: It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. The more you bask in what you have (versus what you think you should have), the happier you will feel. So stop feeling entitled, and you will feel far happier. For example, instead of saying, "I deserve to be happy," how about saying, "I appreciate my life and value what I already have!"