12 Habits of Unhappy People (and How to Avoid Having Them)

“I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” ­– Martha Washington, wife of 1st U.S. President George Washington

Happiness is something that we all strive to attain. As human beings we can accept the fact that: (a) life is short, and (b) unhappiness makes our lives difficult. As is common knowledge, our habits have a big impact on the quality of life that we live; specifically, these habits directly impact our happiness (or lack thereof). To make a clear distinction, there is a strong difference between clinical depression and chronic unhappiness. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, while unhappiness is a disposition that is often acquired through how we choose to live our lives. Similar to depression, however, unhappiness can be diagnosed and treated.

HERE ARE 12 HABITS THAT CAN CAUSE UNHAPPINESS, ALL OF WHICH CAN BE AVOIDED.

1. CHRONIC COMPLAINING

Happy and successful people do not complain much. On the other side, it seems that chronic complainers always have something negative to say… even when those around them are happy! The bottom line: we all have different circumstances that we are given in this lifetime, but in the end these circumstances are ours – fair or unfair, wanted or unwanted. Instead, seek solutions to problems instead of complaining, which leads to nowhere.

2. BEING CRITICAL – OF SELF AND OTHERS

How we talk to ourselves shapes our self-image, for better or worse. Self-worth is an essential component to our happiness, and feeling good about ourselves is a right that we all have. Realize when mistakes are made, accept them, and move on…don’t engage in negative self-talk. Further, respect the inherent differences of others and recognize their right to live happily and without undue criticism.

3. LIVING BEYOND MEANS

We live in a materialistic society, one where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements for the latest car, gadget, or credit card; all promising an easier, more fulfilling existence. Don’t believe it for a second. While purchasing a new product may provide a needed emotional boost, it doesn’t last. Ever heard the term “buyer’s remorse”? It exists for a reason. Instead, seek out something to do that doesn’t involve whipping out a piece of plastic – exercise, reading, sightseeing, etc. – anything brings satisfaction without the debt.

4. NEGATIVE ADDICTIONS

Most things are good in moderation – food, a drink or two, entertainment… it’s when these things take center stage in our lives that it becomes a problem. Unfortunately, many good people have met their end through addictive habits, especially through dependence on alcohol and drugs. A great preventative measure and remedy to these addictions? Finding and living our passions to the greatest extent possible (see #8).

5. REGRETTING THE PAST

Regret is not only useless, it can be extremely harmful. Research continues to show that repetitive, negative thoughts about decisions made in the past in often a precursor to chronic stress and depression. According to Psychology Today, there are four ways to cope with regret: (1) learn from mistakes but don’t dwell, (2) if nothing can be changed about the situation to let it go, (3) make sure too much blame is not being undertaken, and(4) reframing the situation more positively.

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