Some Common Ways We Screw Up Happiness

We all do some things that make it hard to be as happy as we can be.

I try to identify these, because once I spot them, it’s much easier to avoid them.

I’ve made all these mistakes. How about you?

  1. To delay to do something important until you have some “free time” — you may never have any free time
  2. To retreat into isolation when you’re unhappy — a period of restorative solitude is one thing; lying on the couch alone for days is another
  3. To neglect to make a small change because you think a big change is necessary
  4. To refuse to consider a big change because you assume you can only make a small change — weirdly, sometimes it’s easier to make a huge change
  5. To “treat” yourself to something you wouldn’t ordinarily permit yourself, because you’re feeling blue — the things we do to make ourselves feel better often make us feel worse
  6. To postpone something important until you’re feeling healthier, or get promoted, or lose weight, or whatever
  7. To think that you can “make” someone else be happy
  8. To imagine that what’s true for other people is true for you — we’re more alike, and less alike, than we think; and the differences are very important — this is a huge theme in my book about habit formation, Better Than Before
  9. To spend too much time, or not enough time, thinking about the past, present, or future
  10. To ignore the truth about your own temperament, interests, and aptitudes — we can build a happy life only on the foundation of our own nature

What have I overlooked? Wait! I just thought of another. “To think about everything you don’t have, instead of everything you do have.” What else?

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home and Better Than Before. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Brooke Cagle.

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You Are Much Stronger than You Think

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

One of the best days of my life was the day a dear friend of mine told me I sounded like a victim. At the time, I was outraged with a guy who obviously didn’t fulfill all my needs and my expectations in love. In other words, he broke up with me, refusing to fill up my cup with the precious things I didn’t know how to give myself: appreciation, self-care, and self-respect.

“How could he do that to me?”, “Why do I have to go through such a thing?” – here’s a small sample of my repertoire at the time, full of guilt, shame, and blame.

While complaining, I was expecting my friend to be on my side. Shut up and listen. Accompany me in accusing that man of making me feel miserable. Instead, she chose to be brutally honest, and I will never forget what she said: “Dear, I can feel your pain. You might not realize this yet, but you sound like a victim.” It wasn’t an easy thing to digest. Not at all. I didn’t talk to my friend for several months after that discussion, but today, I am profoundly grateful for this gift of authenticity and genuine truth.

Blaming someone else for my sadness was disempowering. However, it was transformational from the inside out and here’s why I do what I do today as a profession: empower women, so that they know their own worth and keep their tank full with self-love and self-compassion.

In my coaching practice, I often get to hear powerful stories from women who’ve been through terrible life experiences: illness, divorces, significant financial issues or loss of dear ones. But despite everything they’ve been through, they are still alive and resilient.

“What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” – there’s a lot of truth in this saying.

We are all telling ourselves different stories about our past experiences. It’s all about personal filtering and what we make things mean to us. But if we switch perspective and look back on our tough experiences as a learning and an opportunity for growth, everything changes. Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn. We never lose and there’s a powerful learning through failure.

I wouldn’t say the loss of someone dear is an opportunity for growth. Let’s be honest with this one: it’s part of life, but it’s incredibly painful. But we can definitely learn from life experiences as going through a job loss and getting unemployed, going through a divorce or a separation from a romantic partner.

“What could I have done differently?”, “What am I taking with me from this experience?”, “What’s the gain in the pain?” – such questions are empowering because they liberate us from the conditioning of a victim.

Blaming others for taking our time, our money or our love is unfair because we always choose how much we give and to whom.

Taking responsibility for the way we feel, act and think is true power.

Looking back on the past with compassion instead of self-blame, without the need to punish ourselves for making mistakes and allowing ourselves to be entirely human.

So what is to be resilient?

Resilience is the power of finding the gain in pain and raise from difficult times and sorrow. Taking our power back and looking for possible blessings in disguise that finally made us wiser or stronger.

Sara Fabian is a Women’s Empowerment & Career Coach and inspirational speaker, on a mission to help professional women to discover their unique strengths, gifts and talents, boost their confidence, find their calling and live a meaningful life of purpose. For weekly inspiration, subscribe to her free newsletter at or follow her on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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