How To Reconnect With Happiness & Joy
I have a confession to make. I write about happiness, but over the last few months I have been feeling disconnected, angry, and unsatisfied. I have been struggling with my relationships, resentful of the roles I play, and unable to enjoy my writing. I have been experiencing blockages to happiness.
Three days ago I snapped out of my haze of discontent. I had a shift of perception and my heart opened again. This gave me the opportunity to reflect on what I had been experiencing.
Sometimes life is great, yet we still feel unhappy. Other times, no matter how hard we try, happiness never comes. I realised that there were 10 thought patterns that were clouding my perception and blocking happiness.
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My 10 blockages to happiness
1. People Pleasing
It is easy to confuse being ‘nice’ and ‘helpful’ as a positive way to create happiness. The problem with people pleasing is that the fear of rejection drives it.
Helping others is great if it comes from a place of love and kindness, but if we are motivated by fear, it can be harmful to us. Each time we make someone else happy, and feel accepted, we strengthen the belief that ‘we need to please others to avoid rejection’.
The more we people please, the more we are compelled to continue. We can end up over committing and feeling overwhelmed and stressed. We can also feel rejected and undervalued when someone doesn’t reciprocate the kindness we give.
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
― Wayne W. Dyer
The word judgement is the formation of harsh, critical, or harmful, opinions. It is important to understand this definition because not all Judgements are bad. We make assessments about people, objects, and situations constantly that are necessary for our daily survival.
Usually judgements are made with limited information and can be gross exaggerations of the truth. They close us off to receiving and assessing new information that could positively change our perception.
The issue with judgements is that they are thoughts. And thoughts are not the truth and do not accurately reflect reality. When we judge, we are identifying with our judgements and accept them as true. When these judgements are harsh, critical, and not the full truth, they can cause damage to us and others.
We can judge other people, objects, and situation; yet our harshest judgements are usually reserved for ourselves.
When we judge we close ourselves off to the truth. We fill our minds with negative thoughts which we then project into the world. ‘Like attracts like’, so by creating negativity, that is what we will continue to experience.
Life is so much easier when we let go of judgements and accept ourselves and others for who they are.
There is nothing helpful that can come from words spoken in judgement about someone behind their back. The purpose of gossip, is purely to make someone else ‘wrong’. We are using judgements when we gossip, not sharing the truth. This can only cause harm, destruction, and alienation.
Gossiping feels good because it pleases our ego. We get a sick sense of pleasure in making someone else ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’. But it doesn’t create lasting happiness. We are an accumulation of our thoughts, words, and actions. If we create negativity and harm through our thoughts, words, and actions, that is what we will experience in the world.
Learn more about the power of words here
Self-doubt is another form of judgement, but this time it is about ourselves.
We are our own biggest enemy when it comes to being kind, loving, and supportive of ourselves. We wouldn’t be friends with someone who talked to us like we talk to ourselves. Yet, we continue to accept and believe in our self-doubt.
As Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Many times, it is our own self-doubt that stops us from over-coming our fear, stepping away from the familiar, and following our hearts.
Complaining feels good but it’s not good for us. It keeps us in the ‘fight or flight’ response. We stay on edge and ready to react to any perceived threat. Life becomes a tense battle rather than a calm journey.
The danger is that the more we complain the easier it becomes. Our focus turns to the negative which makes it harder to experience the joy in life. Instead of noticing the great things in our life, we only see what we don’t like.
Learn how to stop complaining here.
6. Waiting for the future
We often get suck in the trap of thinking “I will be happy when………..”. We are waiting for this glorious future to arrive, where everything is perfect and we can experience happiness ever after.
When you think about it, chasing the future is an act of insanity. We can never catch it. Yet we invest our happiness in finding it.
If something we dream about does come true, we may experience shot term happiness, but eventually that yearning will be replaced with something else. Once again, we find ourselves chasing happiness.
Be careful. You may end up chasing a happy life, yet never experiencing it.
7. Living in the past
Sometimes we yearn for the past because we feel they were happier times.
Sometimes we obsess over the past because of something someone did to us that we can’t get over.
Sometimes we continue to punish ourselves over a mistake we made in the past.
All three are different, yet all three are examples of living in the past. When we focus on the past, our thoughts are not in the present moment. The only place we can feel happiness is in the present moment, so if we are caught up in times gone past, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to feel happy now.
Take from the past what we can learn, accept it is over, and focus on this moment now!
8. Comparing to others
When we compare ourselves to others we are allowing our self-worth to be determined by how we imagine others perceive us. We are judging ourselves as better or worse than someone else through parameters set by our ego.
We can never win this competition because there is never an end to the comparisons. No matter what we achieve or acquire, we will find something else to compare ourselves to.
Instead of comparing and competing. Let’s celebrate all successes – regardless of who achieved them!
9. Lack of Accountability
Personal accountability is acknowledging that we are responsible for our own happiness. It is not blaming other people, past events, or life circumstances for feeling unsatisfied.
If we are unhappy we have a choice to accept the situation, change the situation, or leave the situation. This is the cornerstone of personal accountability.
We can’t control people and situations external to us. When we expect something to happen, or someone to do something, we are placing our happiness outside of ourselves. Once we remove our rigid expectations, we are free to go with the flow and experience the goodness life offers.
A big trap is when we blame someone else for our unhappiness. We tell ourselves ‘if only they changed’ or ‘if only they did this’ or ‘if only they appreciated me more’ then I would be happier. We end up feeling resentful which affects our behaviour towards this person and creates a cycle of discontent in the relationship.
I have realised that if I want to receive something, I need to give it first. When I am feeling unhappy with a relationship, I am usually withholding what I want to receive as a way of punishing the person. This creates even more discontent in myself and the other person. If I can move passed my ego, and give the person what I want to receive, It usually comes back to me 10 fold.
Bonus Blockage- Entitlement!
Entitlement is the opposite of gratitude. Being grateful is the gateway to experiencing abundance and contentment.
When we feel entitled, we have an attitude of expectation and feel disappointed if what we want doesn’t manifest. We remain in a state dissatisfaction and focus on what we don’t have.
When we feel gratitude, we are thankful for everything and the opportunities we have. There are no expectations, only appreciation. We open ourselves to the goodness around us and focus on what we have.
Gratitude is the foundation to happiness.
Read more about gratitude here.
Now that I am no longer blocking my own happiness, my challenge is to keep my heart open, my ego under control, and to be mindful of these 10 blockages to happiness.
Related Article: The Happy Life Manifesto.