What will it take for you to learn some of lifes important lessons? Many people go through life ignoring lessons that should have been learned time and time again. It often takes a tragedy, like being diagnosed with a terminal illness, or suffering through the death of a loved one, to truly take those lessons to heart. But if you truly want to be happy and well, you don’t have to suffer to get there.
Instead, starting right now, embrace change and move on from things that no longer serve you. Giving up these things will make your life a whole lot easier and much happier too, in a myriad of ways.
1. Trying to please others
So many people live their life trying to please others, and as a result, live a life that isn’t even really theirs. Perhaps it’s the life their parents, their teachers, their partner, their friends, or their children thought they should live. After a while, they give up listening to their own inner voice as they’re too busy listening to everyone else and doing everything they can to please them.
You’re probably the one that never says no – you’ll take on more work even when you’re overloaded, and change your own plans at a moment’s notice. When you try to please everyone, it becomes a big problem, in fact, some call it “the disease to please,” and it can literally make you ill. It inevitably causes a ton of stress and anxiety, because it’s impossible to please everyone, and you’re failing to please the one person that matters most: you.
Learning to be the real, authentic you by standing up for yourself and saying no when necessary is the only real cure for this disease. Start by telling one person no, gently, and with kindness. While not everyone will like the real you – that’s okay. You’re stronger than you probably think, and when you stop seeking the approval of others, you’re likely to discover that you never needed it in the first place. Isn’t that a relief? The world doesn’t need any more insincere people-pleasers, there are plenty of those, the world needs the real you.
2. The need for control
Many of us have a compelling need to control anything and everything that happens, whether it’s a person, an event, a situation or what have you. But if you give up that need to control, you’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel on a day-to-day basis. That’s because you probably don’t realize that when you’re attempting to modify others’ behaviors, trying to stick to a rigid schedule, or create predictability in other ways, it only serves to create more anxiety within.
By allowing everything and everyone to just be who and what they are, you’ll be significantly happier, and healthier too. Anxiety can undermine not only our mental health but our physical health too. When we’re anxious, neurotransmitters carry that impulse to the sympathetic nervous system, heart, and breathing rates increase, muscles tense, and blood flow is diverted from the abdominal organs to the brain. In the short term, it helps us to deal with a crisis by putting the body on alert. But its physical effects, including lightheadedness, nausea, diarrhea, and potentially eventual chronic illness like heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions, that can all take a toll on our physical health.
3. Negative self-talk
Why do so many people continue to hurt themselves by using negative, self-defeating talk? The mind is a powerful thing, but it’s far too easy to become caught up in criticizing ourselves. While a little self-criticism can be a good thing, serving as the reality check to spur positive changes, there is a huge difference between telling yourself you should exercise more, which can inspire motivation, and calling yourself a big fat slob.
All of that self-criticism often backfires as it tends to cause us to focus on so-called failures, rather on ways that we can improve. And, over the long term, it damages self-esteem, leads to higher stress levels and sometimes depression. Those thoughts actually produce feelings, not the other way around, meaning negative thoughts equals sadness, positive thoughts, happiness. Change the thought, and you’ll change the feeling.
Vow to silence that inner critic, using post-it note reminders with positive affirmations if you have to. One simple way to halt the negative self-talk is to imagine what one of your closest, most trusted friends might say to you. And, remember, if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, never say it to yourself.
4. Allowing fear to rule your life
Eckhart Tolle once said, “The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.” Fear can paralyze you, keep you in desperate situations, and stop you from living an enjoyable life. While we all have some fears, when we let that fear rule our lives, we limit our potential and our happiness.
There is always going to be something to be afraid of – just read the news and it’s full of frightening stories, but that’s because it’s what sells, it grabs viewers’ attention. But maybe it’s not the fear of a major world disaster that has a hold on you, it might be the fear of failure or giving up something that isn’t good for you, but it makes you comfortable. Give up the fears that take up your energy, and remember that there is no reason to stress over something that you can’t control. Let them go so that you can live your dreams despite what you might be afraid of, because life is just way too short.
5. Being immobile
If you have a desk job, odds are, you spend a lot of your day just sitting. Even after work, between the time sitting in your car and then watching your favorite TV shows, that’s a whole lot of hours being immobile. And, moving is a must for your health and well-being. Lack of movement slows the metabolism, reducing the amount of food that is converted to energy which in turn promotes fat accumulation, obesity, and the health issues that often come with it, like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Even if you take time to get some exercise each day, if you still spend most of it sitting, you’re at risk. Research in 2010 revealed that sedentary workers who exercised regularly were at just as high risk for health issues as those who didn’t. What’s even more important for desk workers than intermittent exercise is regular movement to prevent muscle breakdown. The study found that those who sat for over four hours a day had a 46 percent increase in deaths as compared to those who sat for less than two hours. Other research found that sitting for more than half the day, approximately, doubles the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
So get moving – the more you move the better. You’ll be flooding your mind and body with positive, feel-good endorphins each day. Not only should you plan to be active daily, by walking, running, biking, hiking, swimming, practicing yoga, and so on. If you have to sit all day at work, plan to get up at least once an hour and move around – it doesn’t matter what you do, walk around your office, down the hall, up and down the stairs or around the block, just move as much as you can.
As mentioned previously, thoughts result in feelings that reflect those thoughts, and complaining is negative, which means it’s going to make you feel unhappier than whatever it is that might be bothering you. Have you ever heard the Proverb “Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses?” Take that to heart. It’s not the situation that is triggering negative feelings, it’s how you’ve chosen to look at it.
Changing the way you think can be difficult as the brains tends to gravitate toward the negative, so it requires a new habit: being mindful. When you realize you’re thinking or saying something negative, whether it’s about something or someone, stop. Then force yourself to turn it into a positive instead. Practicing yoga can be helpful too as it focuses on breathing, movement, and meditation which helps control the mind and the body. It can stop those racing thoughts, allowing you to be more positive with your intentions.
If you’re legitimately going through a challenging time, trying to constantly ignore negative thoughts can be a bad thing, so you may want to share those feelings with a close friend, a trusted family member or a therapist. It’s not those types of complaints we’re talking about giving up, but the constant complaining about every little thing which becomes a particularly destructive habit.
7. Comparing yourself to others
Most of us are constantly comparing ourselves to others, whether it’s friends on social media or celebrities in the spotlight. Always keep in mind that you’re only seeing the best of these people, you don’t know the whole story. No matter what it looks like on the outside, there is no one, no matter how rich or how thin, that has a perfect life. Everyone has challenges and problems they have to face. What people present to the outside world is usually an edited version of their reality.
While comparisons can be a valuable source of motivation and growth, it can also spin us into a tail-chasing frenzy of self-doubt, damaging our sense of self and making it more difficult to achieve our goals.
If you have a house filled with clutter, all of that “stuff” is probably taking a lot of joy out of your life even if you don’t realize it. One of the reasons is that when happiness comes from purchasing things, it never lasts, and you’ll never truly feel satisfied. The brain gets a nice quick boost of joyfulness from that new object, but it fades quickly, often leading to a life of buying, and more buying just to get another jolt, like an addiction to a drug.
While it all might seem totally innocent, after all, doesn’t everyone have extra stuff? Too much junk can even be harmful to your health. It increases stress, because, according to research conducted by UCLA’s Center of Everyday Lives and Families, there’s a relationship between a high level of cortisol, a stress hormone, and those who own homes with a lot of household objects. And, that stress can actually make you eat more, as cortisol triggers the appetite, so you might gain weight. You probably feel fatigued and drained more often too, simply as a result of spending mental energy on the stress that results from a messy environment.
The bottom line? Give up that clutter and find joy in giving to others instead, and to yourself in healthier ways, like stepping up your fitness level and personal growth.
9. Being a hermit
Many of us spend a lot of time indoors, often so much that we forget that we can easily feel better just by going outside. Spending too much time indoors can cut off the body’s supply of healthy gut bacteria, which can throw you off in multiple ways, and when those doors and windows are tightly shut, the air you’re breathing becomes stale too.
The more you can get outside in the fresh air, enjoy nature and scenic views, the more your stress level will be reduced and the better you’ll feel. Aim to get out there more often this year, and your physical and mental health will thank you for it.
10. Processed foods
Let’s face it, processed foods are NOT real foods. They’re loaded with potentially harmful ingredients and lack nutrition too. If all you do in 2017 is give up processed foods, not only would you drop pounds, but you’ll feel like a whole new you, happier, healthier and ready to face whatever life might throw your way. Focus on eating as many real, whole foods, like fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, etc. in their natural state and you’re sure to experience a dramatic difference in how you look and feel.