For most of us, there’s a time or two in our lives where we actually ask ourselves how to live a happy life. This may be because we feel like we’ve lost our way, or we feel disconnected or overwhelmed, or a multitude of other reasons.
These might be physical, psychological, or spiritual, indeed, it may be all three. We all experience some kind of restriction or barrier that causes us from succeeding in life and oftentimes that barrier is something that can be easily removed.
Identifying The Barriers
lately, I’ve been trying to improve my basketball shooting and my golf game. For some time I’ve been plateauing in my technique and skill and not seeing many improvements, which meant my enjoyment was waning.
Practicing was becoming tedious and frustrating. Meanwhile, I was trying to push on and get better at each activity but each time I would come away disappointed, which had more than just a short-term effect. The next time I wanted to get out and play a round of golf for e.g, those memories of the failure of my game came flooding back, which quite often, meant that I would just think of something else to do. I couldn’t face the frustration.
I came to the realisation that this approach was problematic. Why would I let my frustration ruin my enjoyment and success when there had to be a way forward.
That way forward was simple.
Identifying the barriers that were not allowing me to progress and enjoy.
Oftentimes, the answers to our issues and problems are staring us in the face. For me, it was getting external coaching/advice after taking videos of my swing and shooting technique that would enable me to be able to iron out problems and remove bad habits. It was a simple process that we all are quite familiar with when it comes to improving a technique or approach.
The answer to how to live a happy life lies in identifying those barriers that might be standing in our way.
What Exactly Is a Happy Life?
Only you can determine this, but It can be one or all of the below:
- Increased happiness
- More focussed purpose
- Getting to know yourself better
- Removal of bad habits
- A deeper connection to those around you
- An increased spiritual awareness
Once you determine what a happy life looks like, then it’s just a matter of identifying what’s stopping you from living that life. The following list may resonate with you, but if not, I encourage you to seek out your own barriers.
“The future depends on what we do in the present”Mahatma Ghandi
9 Things That Could Be Stopping You From Living a Happy Life
1. The Need to Please Everyone
Many of us fall into the trap of trying to please others. We’re called ‘people pleasers’ and for the most part, it stems from a lack of belief in ourselves, fear of rejection, poor self-esteem, and a variety of insecurities.
If we were to determine how to live a happy life, one of the key answers is to try and not please everyone. The risk with continuously trying to please others is that you may lose sight of who you actually are. Pleasing others can ultimately lead to a lack of self-care and resentfulness. These things are serious and may also affect your relationships.
It can be tough, but trying to put in some boundaries is the first step in overcoming the need to please others. The second and most important step lies in finding the balance between thinking of others and thinking of yourself. Remember, you can’t please everyone.
Perfectionism can stop us from achieving the best in life. It’s driven for the most part, by internal pressures, such as the desire to avoid failure or judgment. It can show in the need to place unrealistic desires to be perfect on oneself or others.
This can be seen through what is called self-critical perfectionism. This plays out in the main through never being able to start anything or if we do, it means we aren’t able to see anything through to completion. This is all around avoiding failure.
Alternatively, when a person’s self-worth depends on their achievements, they usually push themselves to attain unrealistically high standards.
There’s a difference between perfectionism and striving for excellence. Perfectionism can lead to judgment of your self-worth which is based on the unrealistic achievement of extremely high goals and standards. Perfectionism has been linked to a plethora of clinical issues such as depression, anxiety, and many many others – a meta-analysis of 284 studies has found.
Perfectionism can be a challenge to treat. If you have perfectionist traits, try allowing imperfection to happen. This can actually be quite freeing and liberating. Celebrate your imperfections and learn to accept yourself for not always being perfect. This will allow you to enjoy your life a lot more and hopefully lead to greater happiness.
3. Comparing Yourself to Others
God has created you just the way you are. In Psalm 138 verse 14, the psalmist says to God, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. We all have faults and shortcomings, however, we need to start believing in who we are. Sure, we’re not perfect, but neither are those you are comparing yourself to.
Let’s start comparing ourselves with how God sees us. Perfect, wonderful, powerful, mighty, worthy, strong, and able!
4. Holding Onto the Past
If only most of us could let go of our past. We tend to view our life in the context of it being defined by our past. This is wrong and definitely not beneficial. In other words, you view yourself today, based on what’s occurred in your past.
From past traumatic experiences, bereavements, relationship breakdowns, or even a fear of the future; all of these things can lead to people becoming trapped in the past and unable to plan their future let alone see their future.
Who you are right now, may be influenced by things of the past, but that doesn’t mean you can’t move forward and become the person you were meant to be. You can never do anything about what has already happened.
‘The past has no power over the present moment’Eckhart Tolle
Now, it’s not rocket surgery, this concept is quite simple to understand, yet many of us actually don’t really get it, but, the past is the past.
The past is the set of all events that occurred before a given point in time. The past is contrasted with and defined by the present and the future. This is important to note. The past is not the present, nor is it the future. The past is complete. It’s done. It’s gone. It is no longer relevant to the present or the future.
Consequently, if we can make a conscious effort not to be limited by our past, we’ll certainly be able to start living a happy life.
5. Not Believing in Yourself
“What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.”Henry David Thoreau
If we’re asking ourselves how to live a happy life, we need to understand that believing in oneself is of crucial importance. As we’ve discussed, it’s our own definition of happiness that is key here. Believing that we can live a happy life (and deserve to) is the ultimate foundation to be actually able to live a happy life.
We all have a destiny and a purpose for our lives and have been put here on earth to fulfill these, but we can’t if we don’t believe in ourselves.
How though, do you believe in yourself? Firstly, you need to change your perspective and believe that you are special and have something to offer the world. We’re all unique and have special gifts and talents that not everyone possesses, so believe that you do have something special and unique to offer.
Here’s a Tony Robbins article that may help.
6. Toxic Friendships/Relationships
You don’t need a lot of friends, just the right ones. The right ones will encourage and uplift you, will support you through tough times and they’ll give you honest and constructive feedback. It may just be time to ‘fire’ some of your friends based purely on their lack of support and good guidance.
Oftentimes, toxic relationships can be the thing that stops you from progressing in life.
Take an honest look at who’s in your life, but make any decisions purely on their lack of love for you. Remember, some people have all the best intentions but just can’t seem to pull it all together. Keep these people in your close circle.
Overthinking is such a big part of most of our lives. It’s essentially thinking about something too much for too long. It either comes in one of two forms, thinking about the past or about the mistakes you’ve made or thinking about the future. Thinking is a good thing, in fact, critical thinking is a lost art in today’s society.
However, there’s one sign that can clearly tell you that you’re overthinking. Worry. If you’re worrying, that’s not beneficial and can stop you dead in your tracks from living a successful life. One study shows that containing your worries to small sections (i.e 15 mins.) per day can drastically help with your mental health.
Here are 7 ways to calm your worrying. The other sign that you can be overthinking is negative self-talk. We all do this from time to time, but if it’s becoming a habit, that’s where it gets troublesome. Here are 7 ways Tony Robins suggests we stop overthinking in its tracks.
8. Hanging on to Unforgiveness
Unforgiveness can not only stop you from living a happy life but can destroy your life. When you forgive you release yourself from the bonds that hold you.
Mark Manson wrote, “Forgiveness is choosing to not let negative events of the past define how you feel about someone or something in the present.”
Jesus gives us the perfect example of forgiveness in the Bible. While hanging on the cross in agony, Jesus called out, exclaiming “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Think about who you need to forgive and purposefully make sure you rid unforgiveness out of your life.
If you want to know how forgiveness can change your life, read this article.
9. Living an Unbalanced lifestyle
I betcha you can relate to having to try and balance what seems like a totally unbalanced life. It’s tough, what with work, and kids, and friends, and work, and exercise and kids and sleep and nutrition, there’s a lot to balance and sometimes, well, oftentimes we don’t get it right.
Consequently, It can be a source of frustration and in some cases, it can actually destroy your life if you don’t get the balance right.
If we’re careful to notice that parts of our lives are unbalanced, we can then take measures to correct our course.
Here are some warning signs that your life may be out of balance.
- Interrupted sleep patterns
- Eating Poorly
- Short temper
- Feeling unsettled
- Haivng no energy
- Being lazy
- Getting defensive
Some things that can help.
- Be consistant
- Implement a self-care program
- Exercise more
- Redefine success
- Plan ahead
Here’s some additional tips that could also help.
These barriers may or may not resonate with you, but in either case, spend some quality time thinking about what is actually restricting you from experiencing a happy life. Maybe reach out to a close friend or mentor to talk this through.
Of course, life can be challenging and there may be significant life issues that may have caused you to lose that happiness. I totally understand. I have had health issues, my wife has had cancer, we lost a baby, my wife and daughter almost didn’t make it through delivery, my mum and dad recently passed away together with a variety of other significant life issues that have left their mark. For significant life issues such as these, I’d encourage you not to try and work through these yourself but to make a call to your local counselor or psychologist to determine what the way forward might look like.
Be encouraged though, you are ready to experience all that life has to offer and be totally and completely happy while doing it.
“Be Happy For This Moment. This Moment Is Your Life”Omar Khayyam
If you have any further tips on how to live a happy life, let us know in the comments or head over to the Facebook Page and tell us your thoughts.
Stay well my friends, and remember, that you’re loved and you’re awesome!