Finding more happiness in life might seem like a struggle but practicing these 3 big tips might help you experience it faster.
“I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be”
Have you heard of the saying “happiness comes within?”
However, if it’s the case then why can it feel difficult to find true happiness that lasts?
One reason is it’s hard not to get seduced by thinking your own happiness depends on mainly external factors.
When you don’t have those external factors in your life,or it seems they might disappear, you might feel unhappier. At that point you can look to find something else – person, object or experience – to plug the hole of unhappiness.
However, what if the power to be happy was very much in your hands and in your control?
Wouldn’t that be a great thing?
Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to always rely on this power, instead of self-esteem being based mostly on how wealthy you are, where you eat, how hot you look, how cool and hip you are, your professional or social status. Those things can disappear in a heartbeat.
In this article I’m going to cover 3 big tips that can make a massive difference to how happy you are.
By the end of the article you’ll hopefully have a good idea of how these can help and think about how they might apply in your own life.
When you practice these with some consistency you will move towards greater happiness.
They will help you improve your self-esteem which I define as deep respect and appreciation for yourself and by yourself.
If your self-esteem is based on mainly on outside factors it will disintegrate when those outside reasons disappear or seem threatened. You’ll always live life for the approval of others. That’s not a good place to stay.
The tips are also about you raising your own standards and saying ‘bye-bye’ to living or expecting second best.
They will help you aim higher, demand more of yourself (and of others at times).
The tips are to
- stop comparing yourself to others
- Get out of your comfort zone and stop procrastinating, and realise that
- People pleasing will get you nowhere
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Judging who you are compared to other people might seem like a natural thing to do.
We normally fall into this from an early age due to family and other influences in society.
It then becomes an unthinking habit.
You can judge yourself, you can judge others, you can compare your supposed failures to others, their failures to your successes, the value of your life to someone else on the basis of what they have, who they are, where they come from, what they want to do.
Comparing yourself to others isn’t harmless. It has an emotional and mental cost for yourself (and for other people when they are the victims of your comparison of them).
It can lead to negative thinking that can quickly become deeply debilitating.
Of course, there is a big difference in comparison when you are recognizing the positive qualities or achievements of someone and this inspires and motivates you to make changes in your own life for the right reasons.
That kind of comparison touches something in your spirit because it reminds you of your own potential and what’s possible in your life.
This kind of comparison empowers you. It doesn’t drain your energy or leave you feeling a bit small, useless and defeated.
I remember many times in my 20s when I was training in the gym, trying to pack on more muscle and comparing my skinny body to the buffed-up guys training next to me.
I remember feeling deflated, envious and thinking I’d never put on more muscle. I even gave up on my workouts halfway through.
I remember thinking I had to have a hot body to attract a guy. If I didn’t, then my value as a person was somehow less.
When I learnt to stop comparing myself to others generally, I also begun to appreciate my body and the damn miracle of nature every single body is.
I begun to enjoy working out a lot, so that years later, the aesthetic side of having a hot body is very much a secondary goal and a happy by-product compared to the competition I have with myself to get fitter and fitter and fitter.
How to stop comparing yourself to others
The next time unhelpful comparison leads you to feel downbeat, demotivated or unhappy with yourself; or before you might jump into another reinvention of yourself inspired by the latest social media influencer, try some of these actions:
- Pause and step back: stop and take time to think about your real needs, who you are and what’s great about you and some of the successes you’ve had in life.There are many things I’m sure and those things will remind you of something good about yourself. Really go into the feeling of every small win you’ve had. From then you may be in a better emotional state to appreciate yourself and to stop unhelpful comparison.
- Embrace the discomfort: of how you feel to start accepting who you are so that you can make constructive, helpful and practical changes that reflect you, not the desire to be like someone else. If you run away from the feeling of discomfort and try to get over it with poor substitutes for healthy self- esteem, it’s hard to start the process of acceptance. Acceptance is necessary for real change to begin.
Try hard to eliminate all labels and judgements: start making a committed effort to watch the labels and judgements you make throughout each day. Those about yourself and those about people around you.
Ask yourself is it true? Replace reactive thinking with reflective thinking: words and actions are extremely powerful. They can make and break lives. Try and carve out a few minutes of your day to reflect on where you’ve compared yourself to people because you fell into reacting, instead of interrogating your thinking and emotions. When you objectively ask if what you are feeling is true, I mean really, undeniably true, I doubt you’ll find the objective evidence to back it up!
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GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND STOP PROCRASTINATING
Comfort zones and procrastination are two huge topics that merit separate blog pieces in the future.
This is my short take for now.
We all want mental security. That’s ok. A comfort zone can help at times. There’s a big problem though.
If you stay in your comfort zone for weeks, months, years you risk being DISCONNECTED to yourself.
You miss opportunities in work, love and life.
You miss out on the benefits of being creative and productive.
You miss out on the chance to grow.
You miss out on learning the crucial life skill of resilience.
Staying in your comfort zone gives a false sense of security. This is a massive cost to you.
Missing out on all of this rich, amazing experience, is a cause of frustration and a source of fear that drains vitality from your life.
It’s often also the reason why you (and others) may find fault in the efforts of someone else to improve their own life, make a change and seek a new, positive experience.
Anyone who’s never experienced that, well, they must be an angel!
Staying in your comfort zone and killing your own growth leads can lead to self-resentment, bitterness and jealously in some people.
Deep down most people know they can do better and be better.
Squatting in your comfort zone denies you the chance of experiencing this.
How can I get out my comfort zone?
Imagine if you didn’t shoot yourself in the foot by missing out.
You’d feel more connected to who you are and want to be.
There’s a way to step out of your comfort zone without freaking out.
There’s a way to overcome procrastination and move forward.
- Get real: be honest why you don’t want to step out of your comfort zone instead of finding reasons to justify inaction. Honesty will helps you get to the root of the problem. You don’t have to take on more than you are ready to handle, but you do need to switch your mindset to one of growth rather than failure.
- Compassion: as I wrote above, be compassionate to yourself, try not to compare yourself to others critically. It’s truly pointless.
- Baby steps: Set realistic expectations. Which also means. Break down what seems big and overwhelming into small steps, even baby steps, but make sure you execute these. Diarise small chunks of time to make progress (literally make sure it is in your diary).
- Work outside your distraction zone: work on eliminating simple things that seem like innocent distractions, but actually are sweet temptations that pull you off track and off focus. Things like unscheduled Netflix sessions, sneak peeks at Tik Tok, making yet another cup of tea, getting lost in the universe of Wikipedia or YouTube, whatsapp group chats, the snooze button (ok, I admit I am guilty of this one).
Remember my mnemonic, C.A.T.S which means:
- C – stop CATASTROPHISING and assume the worst is going to happen. You aren’t psychic.
- A – breathe and take in enough AIR to calm your nerves, root yourself in the present and get your brain and body working for you again.
- T – try and be aware of the TRIGGERS that set you off and make you freeze so you don’t leave your comfort zone.
- S – think of the SOLUTION to take a step further towards progress. Ask yourself “what’s the smallest step I could take right now?”
- Have someone or a tool to keep you accountable and committed: For example, even though I’m pretty good at keeping myself accountable, a best friend and I are ‘accountability amigos’ because in 2021 we want to push ourselves to the next level in life, love and career. Find someone positive, constructive and with little bullshit to keep you going. A good coach is also a great way to get you on and keep you on your path.
Stepping out of your comfort zone onto a new path is going to take you into uncharted territory.
The worry might be that if the end of the path isn’t clear and you don’t know what’s on the path, there might be bad consequences and the journey might end badly.
People might give up on you or even ridicule you if you ‘fail.’
It might feel like walking your own path will devour you.
True, it might, in a way.
It will devour the old you, forcing you to leave this behind for something different and hopefully something better.
Making any real or new change in life isn’t always easy, uncomplicated or unmessy.
You might feel blind as to where you’re going to end up.
But, you have to walk the path, take action, to step forward and progress. Otherwise, things stay as they are and staying in your comfort zone leads to stagnation and disconnection.
It’s walking the path that might help you develop and grow.
It’s true, as the old saying says “It is your path. No one can walk it for you.”
But walking the path will take you away from disconnection to feeling connected.
You’ll bring some disruptive energy to the parts of your life that need shaking up.
You’ll feel temporary discomfort, but you’ll be moving towards your essence as a person.
It’s hard work. Needs practice and consistency.
But I promise you will spend less mental energy protecting yourself from changes you know you need to make.
PEOPLE PLEASING WILL GET YOUR NOWHERE
By people pleasing I mean regularly putting your own needs and desires second to keep others happy.
The danger of being a people pleaser is that people pleasing chips away at how good you feel about yourself. It weakens your self-esteem.
Being a people pleaser creates doubt, insecurity and frustration that you aren’t being true to yourself and you are comprising your own integrity too many times.
It’s the friend, parent, lover or colleague who you tip toe around or bend over backwards for because you worry about their negative reaction if you stand your ground, tell them they are wrong or say “no”. Maybe they’ll explode or drop you and that scares the shit out of you.
It’s the need to always apologise or say sorry to keep the peace, reduce tense situations that aren’t your fault or win the favour of someone else.
It’s giving up your own plans to accommodate the wishes of others without a genuine and good reason, to be an emotional crutch for others who won’t take responsibility for their own feelings or actions. You people please when you keep quiet about your feelings and needs because you don’t think they matter/value yourself enough.
Being a people pleaser means getting into lots of situations that won’t help you be happy. It’s the potential for a lot of unhappiness in the long term. The kind of unhappiness and regret that eats away at your heart. That’s why it’s so important to try and not do it.
You may have read the ‘Top Five Regrets of the Dying’ by Bronnie Ware. It’s a sobering book.
Two of the top five regrets of the patients she cared for were,
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
You need to give yourself permission to go after your dreams and discover who you are.
How to stop being a people-pleaser?
This also deserves a specific blog article, but in summary, to stop people pleasing you need to get comfortable discovering your own personal power.
Getting in touch with this is crucial to feeling more confident, and when you feel a little bit more confidence, you can start to enforce boundaries and begin to stop people-pleasing and say ‘no’ to people and situations that you don’t actually want to be in.
Without personal power and the confidence to use this, it is harder to take actions needed to push you forward in the direction you want.
Finding your personal power and living it can help provide you with the confidence to stay committed to your goals or pursuing a better experience of life.
Of course, doubt creeps in or opinions that aren’t constructive will throw shade and negative vibes your way. But when you are comfortable in your own skin, accepting of the light, the dark and the weird in you, you’ll be more secure in yourself.
You can move past those doubts or feel confident enough to ignore the unhelpful views of others.
It’s such a serious matter stepping into who you are.
Personal power when used properly, enables you to do things – to produce, to create, to take a risk, to fight and win against the odds. Like all power it has to come from a source, and for it to last, be real and give you a real sense of security, that source has to be your values, your standards and your ethics, rather than things and external validation, which can disappear in a heartbeat, taking your sense of identity at the same time as well.
But to know your personal power, it’s got to be more than a theory. You’ve got to test it, try it, live it and love it.
That might mean pissing off a few people or rather a few people getting pissed off with you when you start saying no. It will mean having to stop terrifying yourself with expecting the worst will happen if you stop people pleasing.
How to stop being a people pleaser?
You don’t need to go over the top and pretend to be a hard, tough person to protect yourself from being a people pleaser. That’s not authentic or good for your mental health. There’s an easier way!
In my view, the best way to stop people-pleasing is to get very, very clear about your values and who you are in life. And then to live it as much as you can. When you try to do that it really becomes a lot easier to say no.
No to people and situations that suck too much time out of your day.
No to falling into experiences that aren’t what you really want and having the courage to walk away.
No to poor behaviour and poor standards from yourself and others.
But, understanding your values and living them to the point it becomes second nature does takes time.
If you are at a risk of people-pleasing, but not yet comfortable to deliver a crystal-clear “no,” try these actions –
- Qualified no: saying “no I don’t have time and can’t do something now” but will take a look/try/consider it/ only when I do have more time”
- Don’t just accept requests and demands instantly: sometimes you’ll end up doing a ton of work for someone, who hasn’t actually made sufficient effort for themselves. This means valuable time and energy is lost that you could be using for things that matter to you. Get the other person to go away and do more work and thinking on whatever it is they want to pass off onto you. Then when you’ve genuinely got time, only step in then to help.
- Learn how to tackle aggression and bad behaviour: if you pluck up the courage not to people-please, it’s quite possible the other person will try and force you into submission with temper tantrums, sarcasm and passive-aggressive actions, throwing their toys out of the pram or aggressive behaviour.
Ultimately, you’ve got to lean back onto your values and standards and respect for yourself to stay firm, not question your self-worth, or constantly appease for the sake of a quiet life or for fear of losing someone.
I’ve written an article on finding a purpose that relates to life values and happiness which you might find helpful too.
What will you do?
1. If you’d like to make a change, and start getting going after the kind of life you really want, build your self-confidence and put your needs and desires first, get in touch for a complimentary session.
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