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Are you chasing happiness? A lot of people spend their lives trying to find happiness outside of themselves. They have the mindset that if things are perfect in their life then they will be happy. If they have the right job, relationship, health, and wealth then things will be great. But that mindset can negatively impact health, our quality of life, and ultimately, our happiness.
So what is mindset exactly? You hear that terminology used a lot these days, but many people don’t even know what mindset is! Mindset is a collection of attitudes and beliefs that a person holds onto. This can be either positive or negative…..and unfortunately these days, there are a growing number of people with very negative mindsets out there.
The world is a pretty stressful place to be living these days, and you can see the effect that this chronic stress is having on people’s health, relationships, careers, success, and life. More and more people are struggling with extreme, debilitating health problems, divorce is on the rise, and there is overall far less satisfaction with life now than there was even 50 years ago.
The problem today is that we are all chasing happiness. You may have heard the saying “looking for love in all the wrong places”, but today we are looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Many are chasing happiness from external sources. We mistakenly believe that if we lose weight, then we’ll be happy. Or if we have more money, or a better job, or house, or relationship, or material things that then……. then we will finally be happy.
But that’s not true at all. We can never find happiness in things….or in people. Happiness truly begins within us. And it begins with mindset.
Are You Chasing Happiness? How is your mindset?
To determine if your mindset is more negative or positive, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you complain a lot? (this can be about anything!)
- Are you hard on yourself? Do you put yourself down or are you critical of yourself?
- Are you more pessimistic than optimistic? (sometimes this can be under the guise of being “realistic”)
- If you are going through something difficult in your life, is it difficult to find things to be grateful for?
- Do you gossip about other people and their problems?
- Do you worry about things a lot?
- Have you ever found yourself easily getting outraged about stories or things that people say online?
- Do you watch or follow a lot of news or reality shows (ex. Bachelor, Real Housewives, Kardashians…shows that are filled with drama)
- Are you a people pleaser? Does it matter to you what other people think about you and if they approve of you?
- Do you get your feelings hurt or get offended easily?
- Are you overly focused on getting more money, a better house, a spouse, a better job, or more “stuff”?
- Are you a perfectionist?
If you said yes to even a few of these questions, then there is some negative mindset that can be worked on. If you said yes to more than six of them, then you are more of a glass-half-empty kind of person. With a negative mindset, it will be more difficult to truly attain happiness in life, and ultimately that level of negativity can affect your health as well.
But there is really good news here! You can change your mindset so that it’s positive….and that’s an incredibly liberating place to be.
How do I know?
Well, when I was younger I was a negative Nelly! I complained a lot, gossiped a lot, was very critical of myself, constantly got my feelings hurt by others, was drawn to negativity, and was a perfectionist to the extreme. And I was miserable! I also helped to create a host of health problems due to the stress that I was creating in my mind.
Yes, that’s correct….we create the majority of the stress that we deal with daily by our mindset. And that stress translates to not only health problems but to a lack of contentment in our lives.
So how do we begin to change our mindset?
Yes, when you have been living in a negative mindset for a while, you will have to practice gratitude. But after some time, it will become far more natural and you will find yourself grateful for so much more. To start a gratitude practice simply spend a few minutes each day thinking about 5 things that you are grateful for. It can be big or small. One time I thought about being grateful for pencils because for so much of my life, they helped me to create and communicate. There is nothing too small to be grateful for.
Be mindful of your emotions
Most of us allow our emotions to run amok, not really paying attention to what is going on in our minds. But the reality is that we have a choice of what we feel at any given time. Unfortunately, we tend to let negative emotions snowball out of control. The truth is that holding onto negative emotions doesn’t truly serve us. And we torture ourselves by wallowing in them for far longer than we need to. One thing that helped me was to start being conscious of my emotions.
I do this by checking in with myself throughout the day. If I am feeling negative things that just don’t feel so good, I always ask myself “does this serve me?” Most of the time it doesn’t and I make a conscious decision to let it go. I choose to then switch thoughts to something that lifts my spirit or evokes gratitude. That just feels so much better! And don’t we all deserve to feel better?
Give yourself permission to make mistakes!
I run across far too many people who feel like they have to be or do things perfectly to prove to the world that they are good enough. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret….you can’t EVER be perfect, and neither can anyone else. Perfection doesn’t truly exist and it’s an impossible expectation to set for yourself or anyone else. You see, we learn and grow by making mistakes. If we didn’t make mistakes we would all just stay stagnant. In the coaching world, there is a saying “There is no such thing as failure, only feedback”.
Give yourself permission to make mistakes and have an open mind to learn what lessons you can from those mistakes. Then you can see tremendous growth in your life. And that growth will lead you down the path to happiness and contentment! You are a beautifully, wonderfully, imperfect human being….so it’s time to embrace that!
Turn off the news
Surround yourself with more positive things. The news and so much of what is on television are so negative these days. Reality television is what I call “train wreck tv”. There is a lot of conflict, drama, and chaos in those shows. When you surround yourself with a lot of negativity like that, then it will be difficult for you to have a positive mindset. I used to watch a lot of television like that. But now I am not afraid to change the channel if something is negative.
I no longer watch the news and even stopped following a lot of news sites on social media. I just no longer wanted to see that negativity in my newsfeed. Now I read more inspirational quotes, watch funny videos, and fill myself with things that inspire and uplift me. It is much easier to be positive when you surround yourself with positivity. So pay attention to what you are taking in as far as entertainment (movies, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, and online) and start to assess what changes you can make to what you are allowing in.
Don’t let yourself get caught up in the drama and chaos
Sometimes the people you know spread a lot of drama and chaos. This happens on social media or face-to-face. I have cleaned out the really negative people from my social media accounts because all of their complaining, gossiping, and negativity was draining to me. It wasn’t making me feel good, so why subject myself to that? And you can detach yourself from friends, family members, co-workers, and acquaintances that are negative as well. When you do, you will find that your stress level will reduce and you’ll start to feel more positive.
Recognize that you won’t find happiness outside of you
You absolutely can find happiness….if you choose to claim it! Once you stop trying to find happiness from things, people, or situations you actually take your power back! You won’t be a victim anymore. You won’t get your feelings hurt so often. Of course, you will find that you won’t be living for the approval of others anymore and will find that you are freer to live your life as your authentic self. And you will also find that life will no longer be about the pursuit of “stuff” because life will have far more meaning than that.
Are you ready to stop chasing happiness and instead learn how to find genuine happiness? If so, stay tuned. I will be doing more on mindset soon. You can eat all the best food, and work out every day. But if your mindset is negative, that will counteract any other positive measure that you are taking for your health. So it’s time to stop chasing happiness and start changing our mindset so that we can truly change our health….and our lives!