March 14, 2016

STUDY BREAK | Un-hindering Happiness

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Life can be frustrating. Things don’t always go according to plan.

People let you down, the future seems uncertain, demands pile up and stress invades your life.

You start to beat yourself up over mistakes. Life loses its shine.

You’re not alone. Hundreds of millions of people feel this way.

Here are 12 beliefs and behaviors that hinder happiness. Don’t let them become chains that shackle your life.

  1. You don’t have to be just like someone else or match their apparent success.

Recognize that you are unique. Set your own criteria for success.

  1. You don’t need to be perfect in order to be lovable.

Accept your faults and mistakes, but know they cannot rob you of your intrinsic dignity.

  1. Don’t judge yourself harshly.

Recognize that all human beings stumble. Become a more forgiving and sympathetic friend to yourself; learn from your mistakes, but move on.

  1. Stop being hungry for approval.

Recognize your own power, as a human being, to appreciate, encourage and build up others.

Once you accept that you are inherently and unshakably lovable, your hunger for approval will be tamed. This confidence will allow you to look beyond yourself. You will become a dispenser of approval rather than a seeker of it.

  1. Your happiness does not depend on how others feel about you.

Cultivate your own stable inner source of peace and joy. Absorb yourself in some creative activity that suits your talents; find something that reliably engages you and recharges you.

  1. Don’t rehash past mistakes or fear future failures.

Be more fully present in each moment.

Don’t burden yourself with trying to work it all out every passing moment. Set apart planning time regularly, where you can solve problems and translate your cherished values into simple steps. Throw yourself into your simple next steps without rumination over the past or concern over the future.

  1. Don’t obsess over outcomes.

Do whatever needs to be done, with all your heart. You’ll live more calmly, courageously and vigorously, with outcomes that surprise you. Immerse yourself in the process and trust that, no matter the results, you’ll be okay.

  1. Failing does not mean that you’re a failure as a person.

Congratulate yourself for stretching beyond your comfort zone. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose; that’s okay.

  1. Being alone does not mean being unhappy.

Cultivate a richer, inner life that can sustain you whether or not you happen to be alone.

Your leisure time is a good place to start. Read some classics, challenge yourself to learn something new, absorb lessons from great teachers through the ages, open your eyes to the beauty of nature, your ears to the beauty of great music. Find sources of joy and drink deeply.

  1. Stop pretending that you have no self-control.

Take up regular exercise, build upon a  skill, or take up some other disciplined yet intrinsically rewarding activity. This will help build your self-control in all areas of life.

  1. It is not a sign of weakness to reach out for help.

Recognize that vulnerability often elicits compassion, friendship and support.

  1. Don’t mistake disagreement by others as a sign of them disliking you.

Cultivate mutual respect and cultivate in your own worth. This can withstand differences of opinion.

You don’t have to tackle all these things at once. Start with whatever speaks the most to you. Life will become less frustrating and more fulfilling. Remember you are worthy of respect, love and joy, whatever your shortcomings and mistakes may be. Choose your thoughts and actions wisely and feel the difference.

Joyce Lee is a freshman majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations. Born and raised in Hawaii, she loves sunny weather and the color blue. She can be found petting dogs, watching New Girl or enjoying boba at Kung Fu Tea. Study Break appears on alternate Mondays this semester. She can be reached at [email protected].