“Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.” – Wayne Dyer
Are you undermining your life happiness with bad habits that you just can’t seem to shake? If you are, then you are in good company!
Although we “know better,” old habits are hard to break. Over the years we get messages about ourselves from our family, classmates and others around us, and if they are not very positive ones, they set the stage for unrelenting negative and critical self-talk. If we can’t shake these negative thought habits, we live life as if we have smudgy glasses, and our perceptions of ourselves and others become unclear.
Sometimes we need to get a hold of ourselves and STOP the habits that lead us astray!
The following are 7 habits that we need to STOP as we strive for a more positive life:
STOP expecting the world to fall into place the way you think it “should.” Even though we all know life is not fair, we still find ourselves often expecting it to be! The more “shoulds” and expectations you have, the more you will be stuck in preconditions to happiness. Studies have shown that people are notoriously bad at predicting what will make them happy. So stop expecting things to go your way as a necessary ingredient for your happiness.
STOP taking yourself too seriously. As Carol Burnett said, “Life is too serious to be taken seriously.” Life is indeed tedious for those who do not have the ability to laugh at themselves. The more you see the humor and lightness in life, the lighter you will feel and the more you will be able to “lighten up” with others.
STOP thinking you know what is best for you. We often do not really know what is best for us – sometimes what does not turn out turns out to be just what we need! If we have an arrogant attitude that we “know best” and therefore try to micromanage things outside of our control, we end up frustrated and bitter. Instead of trying to micromanage the world around you, just work on managing yourself!
STOP living life like you are going to live forever. Instead of getting “bent out of shape” about things that will not really matter a year from now, never mind a day or a week from now, use the fact that you are going to die to live more fully. Of course we all know we are going to die, but it remains often a theoretical construct. We end up taking things so much for granted, and get enraged at what could be slight annoyances like traffic. All too often we “sweat the small stuff.” As the late Richard Carlson’s title of his best selling motivational book reads, “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff … It’s All Small Stuff.”
How about trying an exercise to get this “small stuff” concept into perspective? Imagine a 36 inch yardstick, with each inch representing about a little over 2 years, which approximates an average life expectancy. Where do you fall? How many inches do you have left in your life? Next time you find yourself making “mountains out of molehills” you might be more successful at recalibrating your perspective
STOP asking so many whys.
Why do these things happen to me?”
“Why does he act like that?”
“Why does he get all the breaks?”
One of my favorite mottos is, “It’s just not wise to ask too many wise.” As a psychotherapist, I have been struck by how many times clients come to counseling with the goal that starts with “I just want to know why …” only to be disappointed that their “aha” moments do not give them as peace as they had imagined. There’s a place to ask why to gain some valuable knowledge, but it is what you do about it that is most important. Thus, shift your focus from “why” to “what’s next?”
STOP over-thinking things. Just like a car stuck in the mud, the more you spin your wheels (or tires) the deeper in the mud they go. The same type of thinking and perseveration that got you into a problem will not likely get you out of the problem. To quote Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
STOP trying to change others. Stop trying to change someone’s mind or teach anyone anything unless that person is a willing student. The reason for countless arguments between parents and children, husbands and wives, friends and co-workers, is that at the core of the argument is the need to teach someone something that they are not interested in learning, such as how right you are!
STOP blaming others for things that are not going right with your life. Holding grudges and blaming others for our misfortune, whether it is the crabby boss, the difficult child, or the hated ex-spouse, leads us astray. Do not lose sight that we have the ability to stop renting others so much space in our heads! Giving up bitterness and forgiving others for not being who you had hoped will do wonders for your soul!
So once you STOP these toxic thought habits, how about using this post as a FRESH START to live the rest of your life with much more wisdom, positivity and happiness? Don’t you deserve it?
I would love to hear from you in the comments below about what thought habit you would like to STOP!
Judy Belmont, MS, LPC is a psychotherapist and national speaker and author on mental health and emotional wellness issues. Her Emotional Wellness For Positive Living website and Face Book page offers wellness resources and inspirational quotes for a healthier and more positive life. She is the co-author of the recently released “The Swiss Cheese Theory of Life.”