Being happy seems easy. Being happy seems like breathing, like walking, blinking—involuntary. You don’t think about it. It just happens.
Until it doesn’t.
There can come a point in your life being happy doesn’t seem so easy anymore; you get caught up in life’s routine, in “more important things”—whatever those are.
You find yourself wondering how it came to this, trying to figure out why nothing seems quite right anymore.
It’s very easy to forget how to be happy. Most often, it happens without us even realizing it.
We want to share with you a few common ways that we see people forgetting how to be happy, every day. We also want to suggest a few ways you can avoid making these mistakes—while we know no one can instruct you on how to govern your own happiness, as only you can do that—we know that there are always a few things we can do to help mitigate those basic missteps.
1. Work Becomes The Priority
There is no denying that your career is important. Especially for millennials undergoing the stress of transitioning into the professional phase of their lives, it seems like careers mean everything.
While it’s important to work as hard as you can in the office, it’s also important to remember that you have a life outside of your job. You have friends, family, hobbies—things that define you beyond your professional achievements.
When you rely on your career as a crutch for the only thing that defines you, it means that one little slip in the office creates a much bigger tragic downfall that it should. It makes you feel like a massive failure—even though you aren’t.
If you define yourself by other things, your social life, hobbies, family, etc., your happiness is worth so much more than your performance in the workplace.
Suggestion: Put your work in a “time bubble”—i.e., 9AM—5PM, or “no emails after 6PM”. Once you exit this bubble, and the clock is outside of those hours, ensure that you are taking time to focus on other things. Work will always be here tomorrow.
Try to make commitments to things other than work—your friends, family, volunteer activities, hobbies—things or people that will hold you accountable.
2. You Push People Away
For whatever trouble you might be going through, from trouble at work to coping with a form of depression, it can become easy to drive people away.
Even though you might be going through a hard time, this is the last thing you should do and would only make you feel worse in the long run.
The luckiest of people will have a few people in their network to rely on in the hardest of times. Even if it is your instinct, when you push people away, you eliminate the few people that are here for you and care about you in your time of need.
Suggestion: Make sure your close friends are aware that this might be a habit of yours. When you begin to push them away, they know that you don’t mean ill, and that they will see you might be going through a hard time instead of faulting you for it or thinking that you’re a bad friend.
3. You Aren’t Able to Be Honest With Yourself
None of these things—realizing your work-life balance or staying connected with your social network—matter if you don’t have a capacity for self-awareness to actually understand them.
Self-awareness is probably one of the most important factors in maintaining your own happiness. Without it, you will never be able to gain a real sense of your own motivations, goals, and key drivers.
Without this, you won’t be able to understand why you may be feeling down or lost on some days, why you want the things you do, or why certain things or people upset you.
Suggestion: Talk aloud. We encourage ourselves to “talk to someone” when we think we’re going through a problem; talking to friends, family, or anyone you trust will also help you discover things that you might not have before if you weren’t simply wondering aloud.
If you can have someone who can help you toss around different thoughts and ideas, you’ll have a clearer picture of yourself and emotions just by speaking (or ranting) about them out loud.