By Sophia Godkin, PhD
The state of your happiness in any moment is essentially the sum of two things: the things you do + the things you don’t do. And though you, like many of us, may be quick to rush into creating new habits and ways of being and doing, it helps first to recognize that happiness is your natural state of being. It’s not something you do. It’s what you inherently are. So if you are not currently beaming with joy, then it’s likely that there are things that you’re doing that are standing in the way of this inherent happiness. Here are 5 things to stop doing if you want to be truly, genuinely happy right now.
1. Criticizing and judging yourself for your mistakes and limitations. As human beings, we tend to have a very skewed perception of who we are and are not. We tend to generalize and catastrophize the events in our lives, assuming that one negative event is the precursor to many more and that one mistake is indicative of an unchangeable flaw within us. But we’ve got it all wrong. The truth often is that what we perceive as a flaw or limitation within ourselves isn’t actually so. We beat ourselves up for not being precisely who we yearn to be or not yet achieving all that we want to achieve, yet if the people in our lives are asked to describe us, their narrative paints a very different picture– oftentimes one of someone who is overflowing with positive qualities and accomplishments and on their way to many more.
In a similar vein, what we in present time consider a mistake or bad decision we often look back on as useful and necessary to our growth in retrospect. Become aware of this disparity in thinking that exists within you and learn to navigate around it. As soon as you hear your inner critic judge you for something you are or are not, or for something you said or did or didn’t say or do, pause and redirect your self-criticism to self-acceptance instead. Recognizing that mistakes are natural and valuable and that flaws and limitations are changeable (especially in the presence of awareness and acceptance), honor who you are and let the doorway to self-love and genuine happiness be opened.
2. Being closed off to new relationships because you’ve been hurt in the past. Many of us who have navigated relationships from adolescence into and throughout adulthood have been hurt, at least once but likely many more times. If you have been hurt in the past, it is understandable that you may be wary of entering into new relationships for fear of experiencing possible pain and disappointment again. Yet that’s exactly what the incredible life that awaits you is asking you to do. It is asking you to remove the armor, open your heart, transform fear into courage, and be willing to be vulnerable again. It is asking you to take a risk worth taking – to leap into the once painful knowing that’s where the future wonderful lies too.
Connecting with other humans is the most beautiful experience we are gifted in this life, with love the most beautiful and fulfilling among them. If the hurt you’ve felt in the past has led you to believe that love is anything but the most potent form of medicine and the most beautiful feeling in the world, know this: Love didn’t hurt you. Someone who didn’t know how to truly love hurt you. Note the difference between the two and let love in again. You deserve the kind of love you’ve always wanted – the kind that reminds of you of the joy that’s always within you, that lifts you up beyond measure when you’re down, and that supports you in becoming evermore of the incredible person you already are and are always becoming.
3. Hiding from the truth. The problems you experience in day to day life contain truth and wisdom within them. When you run from your problems, you run and hide from the truth. When you run and hide from the truth, you run and hide from yourself. Life is about growth. It is about evolution. To not get left behind, you’ve got to be willing to open your eyes, ears, and heart to the truth of who you are and who you are becoming. Whether it’s a way you’ve been behaving, something you’ve been saying, or a belief you’ve been endorsing that is out of integrity and no longer supporting the person you are becoming, it’s time to look at it, face it, accept it, and address the changes that need to be made within you as a function of it.
If you don’t address the source of your problems, they will simply return in another form, with another person, in a different yet largely and eerily familiar way. The more you acknowledge and accept, rather than ignore or reject, what’s real and true, the more you will step into who you are becoming – a stronger, wiser, and more genuine, kind, and loving version of yourself. There is no question that you will arrive at who you are becoming. The question is how easily, efficiently, and harmoniously you will do so.
4. Trying so hard to figure it all out. Creating the life you’ve always wanted isn’t about effort. It isn’t about how much you know or how much you do. It’s about alignment. What that means is this: All you need to do to create the life you’ve always wanted is be happy. I know, it sounds contradictory and you may be used to thinking that you need to plan, execute, and figure it all out. But you’ve got to stop trying to figure it all out and trust instead. Trust that there is a higher order to the Universe and that God, Source, Spirit, whom or whatever you believe in is always operating in your best interest and for your highest and greatest good. Trust that when you are in a happy state of mind, you will think the thoughts, say the words, and take the inspired action necessary to draw to you all the right people, events, and circumstances that turn your wildest dreams into your everyday realities.
Remember that “waiting for circumstances to change so you can feel good is like looking in a mirror waiting for your reflection to smile first” (Bashar). So rather than focusing every day on accomplishing your to-do list, focus instead only on feeling good. Prioritize how you feel. Because when your face is smiling with glee and your heart is singing songs of joy, there is really nothing left to figure out.
5. What everyone else is doing. You and I and every other human being alive at this time is born of the same universal fabric of life. Yet each of us is beautifully different, and purposefully so. When you do what everyone else is doing, you deny the very reason why you came into this life and the unique purpose you were born to fulfill. Now, I’m not saying that it’s easy. We are part of a society that puts value on sameness, especially when that sameness looks like a fit, well-dressed body, pays like a million-dollar job, sounds like success, and produces a long-lasting marriage and two perfect kids. Sometimes this same society tells us to be ourselves and then judges us for being so, directly or indirectly saying we’re too much of this and not enough of that.
The messages we receive about being ourselves from childhood to adulthood are harmful at least, and confusing at best. It is therefore up to each of us alone to get up in the morning and assert “Today I will be the real me” no matter how anyone feels or what anyone has to say about it, and to repeat this process every single day of our lives. When we stop comparing and trying to change ourselves, and let ourselves be who we are, we not only feel the relief of no longer trying so hard to fit in and please others, but we also reap the reward of expressing and contributing our unique gifts, viewpoints, and talents to a world that needs them now more than ever. It does get easier each time, I promise.
When you stop doing the things that detract you from your inherent and natural state of happiness, you start paving the way for a life of joy, ease, and fulfillment – the kind of life you’ve always wanted. So welcome now to the rest and best of your life. We’re so glad you’re here!