How to Avoid Being Unhappy

I tend to think I am a pretty happy, relatively well-adjusted person. I have problems in my life that I have to deal with, just like everybody, but I take action to deal with those problems regularly. Otherwise: I get enough sleep, I work, I socialize, I am an avid cyclist and rock climber, and I love my home with my two wonderful roommates and my sweet cat. So doing the research for this article was kind of hard, because it sort of brought me down a bit.

What brought me back up was realizing I didn’t exhibit any of these qualities on a regular basis. Like anyone, I make mistakes, but I do my best to remedy those mistakes and I keep on truckin’. I don’t really do any of these things very much, so I think I am correct in my assessment about being a relatively happy person.

Here are 12 of the habits of unhappy people, so that you can avoid them & make sure you’re not doing them!

1. Unhappy people expand their problems.

Often our first reaction to our problems happens within our lizard brain, which is where the fight-or flight mechanism is housed. It’s the epicenter of negative emotions, too, and so we tend to immediately blow things out of proportion. If we can back that up a little and take a more objective look at the issue and its role in our lives, we can probably see that it is much smaller than it seems at first.

2. Making poor eating choices.

Fast food is devoid of nutrition and only meant to sate the appetite, not give the body the energy it needs. Making good nutritional choices gives you energy to be bodily and mentally sound. I know I don’t get enough fruits and veggies in my diet, so I drink a plant-based protein shake nearly every day that contains lots of green foods as well as a ton of nutrient content. It’s especially helpful when I don’t have time to cook anything.

3. Holding grudges.

You’re responsible for your happiness, right? So what’s the point of holding a grudge? People are going to do mindless, stupid things, say terrible things, make mistakes or perhaps deliberately set out to harm you. Your engagement in that behavior can end whenever you’d like it to…preferably sooner rather than later. Grudges are one of those useless things that take up space in our brains that could otherwise be filled with something helpful and productive. So forgive, forget or ignore, but whatever you do, move on!

4. Gossip.

People with small minds gossip. After all, what else shows insecurity like making rude remarks about others behind their backs? Leave the gossip to school-aged children and move on with your time, and your life.

5. Delaying goals and dreams.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a professional writer and, finally, when I was 18, I put up a resume and a writing sample on an online site. I was selected for a project within a year and began writing for a marketing company, who referred me to other clients and helped me build my portfolio. Now I have a pretty considerable portfolio and a lot of clients in my past, as well as now. I’m grateful for the past half of my life, but it never would have started if I didn’t take a step towards my goal. Delaying goals and dreams never gets you anywhere. If you’re just going about the routines of your life, are you fulfilling your dreams and goals? If so, more power to you, but if not, consider making that a priority in your life and especially in your free time.

6. Being gripped by fear.

We can’t let fear of the unknown keep us from what we want to do in life. Fear is a negative thought process that, unfortunately, is often on autopilot in our lives. Stay in the present and don’t worry about the unknown…there is nothing you can do about it, it will be your present before you know it, and it won’t be as bad as you think.

7. Being fearful of the future.

We can only have so much to say about what our future holds. Rather than dwell on the (unknown) future, stay in the present and direct your abilities and talents to further empower you in the future.

8. Addictions.

The adage “everything in moderation” is a good standard to live by, in terms of what we put into our bodies, what we use for entertainment, what we do for our personal growth and development. Becoming addicted to a substance, a thing, an activity, etc. is unhealthy. When it’s a drug or alcohol, gambling or food addiction, you may want to seek help. Here are the websites for AA, NA, OA and GA.

9. Living beyond your means.

If you’re quick to buy the latest greatest smartphone, gaming system, television, etc. you may have a problem with living beyond your means. If your debt is starting to rack up, it’s probably time to consider how to stop doing that. Try making a list of activities you enjoy doing without spending money: exercising, going for a walk with a friend, locally sightseeing, etc. Pick one of those activities and leave your credit cards at home!

10. Being critical – of everyone.

Unhappy people are self-critical and engage in negative self-talk, but they are also critical of others. It’s important to respect others and their differences.

11. Living in regret.

Research shows that ruminating on the past is often a precursor to chronic stress and depression. We can’t change what has happened, but we can make changes to how we live today and in the future. Let regret go.

12. Complaining all the time.

A hallmark of an unhappy person is chronic complaining. They find fault in everything, regardless of how happy everyone around them might be. You might say “gosh, what a cool party” and they’ll say “Yeah, but it looks like it might rain”. There’s often no winning with chronic complainers…just don’t be one of them!

I hope this has been helpful. I know it was for me to research and write. If you do suffer from these habits, please consider seeing a counselor or therapist and discuss this with them.

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