8 ways you’re sabotaging your own happiness (& how to stop)


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Whether you’re aware of it or not, you might be sabotaging your own happiness.

That doesn’t mean you’re purposefully making things worse for yourself, or that you want to see yourself suffer.

It just means some of your behaviors might be holding you back from living your best life.

In my book Everyone Has a Plan until S*!# Hits the Fan, I share a formula for building up practical resilience to create a happier life. Here are 8 of the most common things people regularly do to sabotage their own happiness.

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1. Comparing yourself to others

We all do it from time to time, but here’s the problem with comparing yourself to others: it’s not valid.

You can’t truly compare yourself with anyone, because your life circumstances are not equal. Your lives have been completely different from the start and your trajectories are not on the same plane. You’re starting the race from entirely different places and you’ve experienced different things along the way.

It’s apples and oranges all the way down. Instead of comparing yourself to others, try and focus on collaborating. Instead of separating yourself from other people, see how you can work together.

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2. Complaining

The problem with complaining is two-fold: you project negativity into the world, and it brings down the people around you. A major part of your happiness if the people you surround yourself with, and people want to be  around people they actually like.

If you’re always complaining, you’re sabotaging the chance that people will want to spend time with you (or you’ll only attract people who live for negativity).

If you complain less, you’re going to be more desirable to others, and more quality people will want to be spend time with you.

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3. Setting overly ambitious goals

When you set a goal, you’re usually only thinking about what you want—not about the possibilities of what could happen along the way.

It’s okay to have big goals, but you have to realize that it’s usually never a linear process from where you are to where you want to go.

Things will always come up that you didn’t expect and knock you off course. You will need to change paths, pivot, and persevere.

You can be ambitious, but don’t be unrealistic. Expect things to knock you off course from time to time instead of only fixating on the end result. Remember that life isn’t always linear, and try not to get discouraged when something gets in your way.

It’s all part of the process.

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4. Being too attached

We all want certain outcomes in life, but sometimes we get so fixated on those outcomes that we forget about the bigger picture, and lose sight of what’s actually important.

Sometimes we forget that there’s more to life than achievement, or money, or whatever else feels like an urgent need that’s missing.

Instead of being fixated on attachment, we can focus more on detachment: living and accepting our experience without feeling the need to exert 100% control over everything.

Sometimes, that’s all we really need.

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5. Living too much in the past or future.

A friend recently told me: the past and the future are two time zones that don’t exist.

Not enough people are living in the present. They’re stuck in the past or worrying about the future.

Here’s an easy thing you can try to live more in the moment: set a reminder on your phone for 3 times each day to focus on your five senses.

When the reminder goes off, take a breath. Focus on what you see, hear, smell, and feel.

Take it all in, everything that you experience.

This is a very simple practice, but it really helps you focus on the present moment, on what’s actually real right now.

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6. Entitlement

We tend to get accustomed to things and experiences very quickly and forget that we’re lucky to have them.

The opposite of entitlement is gratitude. You have to actively practice gratitude to stave off entitlement. It’s like a muscle.

You can find a lot online about how to build a gratitude practice, so I won’t go into it here.

Just remember that at the end of the day, you’re not entitled to anything, and you’re truly lucky to have what you do.

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7. Beating yourself up

I get it: you have high standards for yourself. Who you want to be, what you want to accomplish, what you want your life to look like.

It’s so easy to beat yourself up over the gap between who you are and your ideal self, the person you think you should be.

Remember: your ideal self is not real.

You’re human. You’re not perfect. Evolution took million of years to produce you, and now you’re here. That’s already enough.

You’re okay.

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8. Forgetting that you’re in control of your story

I heard a quote recently: “You are the stories you tell yourself.”

We spend so much time creating these elaborate stories in our minds, about who we are and what we’re worth, why we’re valuable and why we’re not, where we exceed and where we fail.

And in the process we make very strong assumptions about ourselves: what’s possible for us, what we can accomplish, what our limitations are, where we’ll end up in life.

Sometimes we carry these stories around with us for decades. And over time they only get more powerful, assumptions hardening until they’re indistinguishable from the truth.

But at the end of the day, you are in control of your story.

Nothing is written in stone.

Your past is not your future.

You’re stronger than you think.

This story was adapted from Tofe Evans’ book Everyone Has a Plan until S*!# Hits the Fan and was syndicated by

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