When I was growing up, there was always an element of competition around me. I was the youngest of 5 siblings, and we were always finding new games to play to amuse ourselves.
The object of every one of these games was winning. Since I was the youngest, I was at a disadvantage, in that I didn’t yet have the cognitive skills or life experience to beat my older sisters and brothers.
This meant that nine times out of ten, unless my siblings went easy on me, I was the one who lost. It was frustrating for me, and I started to think there must be something wrong with me.
And…according to the rules of our society, I was right. Our society judges us by our ‘wins’, so it’s no wonder we feel anxious when we don’t see ourselves as ‘measuring up.’
To achieve the dream in the western world is to be more, do more and have more.
The perfect house, the perfect job, the huge bank balance and the perfect family are things coveted by most, yet those who finally achieve these things often find themselves feeling strangely empty.
Famous comedian Jim Carey summed this up perfectly when he said:
“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
The key here is to realise that happiness is available to everybody…just not in the way they might think. Wherever you go, you take your mind with you.
You can tap into a new sense of ease, freedom and wellbeing that has nothing to do with whether or not you’re ‘winning’ at the game of life.
ONE: Ditch ‘Busy-ness’
I have a guilty secret: I’m rarely busy, and that’s by choice.
Most people tend to equate busy-ness with worthiness.
We’re ashamed of having nothing to do, and we believe we have to justify our existence on the planet based on how much we’re getting done.
When I greet my clients by saying: ‘how are you?’, many of them automatically reply: ‘busy’.
Then I ask them: ‘do you want to be this busy?’, and they always say no.
I mean seriously, who would actually choose that kind of life? Sure, we all want to be interested and inspired and active. But nobody really likes being busy to the point of exhaustion.
But the thing is, the more you declare your busy-ness to the world, the more overwhelmed you become – because the subconscious mind gives you what you focus on.
So, next time you catch yourself complaining about how busy, stressed or overwhelmed your life is, stop for a moment, and ask yourself: ‘Do I really want this to be true?’
If the answer is no, then watch your language. Say to yourself: ‘I’m a bit overwhelmed right now but all that is changing’.
Then, make a choice to be less busy.
Sleep more. Take care of yourself. recharge your batteries, and resist the temptation to justify this to anyone. Your body and mind will thank you, and they sky won’t fall in!
TWO: Ditch the Need to Be Perfect
You’ve probably said it many times to yourself: ‘nobody’s perfect’. Logically you know that perfection is an illusion, so why do you strive to achieve perfectionism?
It’s because media and advertising industries structure their messages to make us believe that perfection is not only achievable – it’s essential to our happiness.
Again, this comes back to the concept of needing to win. We develop this all or nothing thinking that says ‘if I fail at anything, I am a failure’.
This creates a lot of emotional pain for many people.
Do yourself a favour and stop trying so hard. You are not what you do. If you simply resolve to do the best you can in any given moment, life will be a lot easier.
THREE: Silence The Inner Critic
Okay…so you’ll never be able to ditch the inner critic completely – it’ll always be there.
But you can wake up to it and choose not to allow it to have so much authority in your life.
When I ask my clients ‘do you ever put yourself down?’, 90% of them say: ‘Of course!’ It’s like we all accept this as the norm and anybody who isn’t doing it is the odd one out.
Whenever you call yourself names, berate yourself for some perceived shortcoming or beat yourself up, you may think this will help you…but in fact it does the opposite.
Remember: what you focus on is what you get. So, if you focus on the aspects of yourself that you don’t like, you’ll just show yourself and the rest of the world more of that.
Be nice to yourself.
It’s sounds pretty simple, but for many people this is a scary concept. They’re afraid that if they stop being hard on themselves, they’ll lose the plot altogether.
What have you got to lose except the misery you feel every day as a result of your own self-hatred?
Stop treating yourself like the enemy. I promise you; life is much easier when do.
FOUR: Let Go of Judging
Our small egoic minds want to be right at all costs, and as a result we waste a lot of our energy making other people ‘wrong’ in some way. When we divide the world into ‘self’ and ‘other’, it’s a very lonely world.
The question is…do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
People who tend to judge others are often very judgmental of themselves as well. So, the next time you feel compelled to judge another person, ask yourself: ‘how am I denying or pushing away what I don’t like about myself?’
Okay; so maybe you are right… that person shouldn’t have cut you off in traffic and they shouldn’t be smoking or taking drugs…but at the end of the day, it is what it is.
Everyone is on their own journey, and it’s not your job to decide what’s right or wrong for another person. Focus on your own journey and let the rest take care of itself.
FIVE: Stop Being a Victim
When you were born, there were 3 things you knew:
- You’re awesome just the way you are;
- You’re not responsible for anybody else’s happiness;
- Nobody else is responsible for your happiness.
This means that when you blame another person for your own circumstances, you take away your own power.
If you think life is unfair or that your life would be great if only that other person would behave the way you want them to, then you’re fighting a losing battle with yourself.
The fact is that nobody can hurt you without your permission. Take full responsibility for the way you feel. Stop using other people as an excuse for feeling bad. You can’t change others; you can only change yourself.
Does this mean you have to be a doormat?
Not at all. You can still set boundaries in a loving, respectful way; just don’t expect others to march to the beat of your drum.
People are going to do what they do. You can’t control that; so, stop trying, and breathe a sigh of relief.
SIX: Let Go of Mind-reading
There’s a saying that goes:
‘You’ll worry less about what others think of you when you realise how seldom they do’.
Two things we get wrong is firstly, assuming others think the way we do and secondly, assuming they are thinking about us at all.
You have no idea what another person is thinking because you’re not them. Yet time and time again we get caught up in our own mental stories, making assumptions of how others perceive us.
When this happens, take a reality check. Does that person really think you’re stupid or lazy or inconsiderate? Can you absolutely be sure that is true?
People have complex lives. Maybe that person doesn’t really dislike you…maybe they’re just having a bad day.
Next time you get caught up in mind reading, save everybody unnecessary grief and check yourself.
SEVEN: Stop Being a People Pleaser
Everybody wants to be liked; it’s just human nature. But as I said before, worrying about what other people think of you is a complete waste of time.
Another person’s opinion of you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. It’s based on their lives, their beliefs, their insecurities and their personal filter of the world.
If you have a tendency to seek validation from others either by keeping the peace or sweeping situations that bother you under the carpet, it’ll only make you more miserable – and it won’t do as much for your popularity as you might think.
You could bend over backwards to please a particular person, and they could still think badly of you.
So, let go of trying to control the uncontrollable. Be good to yourself and others, keep the balance and you’ll start to make powerful choices without needing to worrying about disappointing people.
EIGHT: Stop Catastrophizing
Worrying about the future sends many people to an early grave.
Just like you have no control over what other people think of you, you also have much less control over the future than you would like to believe.
In other words, anything can happen at any time.
But since 80% of what you worry about won’t eventuate, how about choosing to enjoy yourself just this once? Even just for one hour?
Life has a way of working itself out, so remind yourself: ‘things are always working out for me.’
NINE: Stop Chasing Happiness
Everything you want, whether it’s a sum of money, a great job or the perfect partner, is because you think when you’ll get it, you’ll be happy.
But happiness isn’t like a college degree, where once you get it it’s yours forever. It either is or isn’t in the moment.
Stop waiting for that one day in the future when everything will magically come together and you will ‘finally’ be happy; that’s a fairy-tale.
It’s the little things in our day that add up to the big things. You’d be amazed at the way the simplest things can give you a portal to those good feelings. It may be walking in nature, gardening or petting the cat.
Finding small ways to feel content, free, inspired and connected every day is the key to lasting happiness.
If you’d like my help fulfilling your dreams, get in touch with me via my contact page today.