Ever noticed that happy people have a certain spring in their step? They seem to walk their talk and illuminate the room as they shine with joy. Happy people seem to have figured out the heartfelt way to live a full life.
From the research I’ve completed while writing my next book, Mental Makeover, I have learned that it comes back to habits. Happy people have habits they practice daily and most of them contradict what society says is best. Happy people don’t look outside themselves for happiness; instead they lean on their inner compass.
I know from personal experience that happiness is 100% a habit. I found this out as I left my corporate job to follow my heart and be a writer and life coach, in the process walking away from depression, drug addictions and eating disorders, which prevented me from being happy.
Happiness is cultivated by action, and the faster we can unlearn the life lessons that society tells us are right, the sooner we'll really feel happiness.
Here are 20 life lessons you should unlearn in order to be happy.
1. There is a right way and a wrong way to do something.
Trying new things and exploring different processes is part of growing. What works for one person may not work for you. Find your own process and your own beliefs, and let others have their own.
2. Fitting in is belonging.
Trying to fit in means you have to contort yourself to fit other people’s views. Doing so is not being true to yourself. Instead of trying to fit in, focus on aligning with your true self. You'll belong when you are fully comfortable with yourself because you won’t need others' approval.
3. Working hard will make you successful.
The harder you work, the more worn out you will be. You won’t be able to fully enjoy your efforts. Instead of working hard, consider working smarter. Gauge your success by how much joy you are experiencing.
4. Failing is bad.
Failing is a fabulous way for you to learn more about yourself. When we try things and they don’t work, it's an opportunity to figure out why it didn’t work and how you can do it differently to succeed. The most successful people in the world have failed a million times. Ask yourself: are you failing enough?
5. Being alone means you'll be lonely.
When you enjoy your own company, you'll find you are rarely lonely.
6. Life is supposed to be smooth and free of problems.
The ups and downs of life are how we live a balanced life. Embrace each turn and allow for the changes; you will feel peace when you stop resisting.
7. What people think of you is important.
The only thing that matters is what you think about yourself. Work on your relationship with yourself and you will feel more love and joy than you ever thought possible.
8. If you were skinner, prettier, smarter, richer, or healthier, you’d be happier.
Waiting for happiness to arrive based on a destination outside of yourself will keep you in a constant chase. How many times have you actually reached that goal weight, found that dream relationship, landed that so called perfect job, and yet you still weren’t happy? Every time! Happiness is not a place outside of us; it is inside of our own hearts.
9. Your life is off-track.
Feeling like you are not where you are supposed to be or that your life hasn’t turned out the way you planned keeps you from enjoying the present moment. You are right where you need to be, trust that everything is in right order.
10. Letting go is giving up.
Letting go of stuff that weighs you down is the key to reaching new levels of success and happiness. When you let go of what no longer serves you, you make room for what you really want and need.
11. You should hold on to what’s no longer working.
Learn to be comfortable with the unknown. We hold on to things that don’t work because we fear the unknown and are afraid we don’t deserve better.
12. You need to postpone joy.
Retirement, vacation, the weekend — all are excuses keeping you from enjoying life right now, in this moment. Reach for happiness every day and you'll no longer need a vacation to achieve balance in your life because your life will be full of joy.
13. You should listen to your head over your heart.
Your head will talk you out of what you feel is right. Trusting the guidance of your heart is never wrong. Ask yourself if the situation feels right, instead of thinking your way through the problem.
14. If you don’t know how to make it happen, you shouldn't go for it.
We learn the way to achieve our dreams on the way to achieving them, so go for it. Your future self will thank you.
15. Unsupportive people don’t care about you.
What others say and do has nothing to do with you. If you have a dream that people don’t support, ask yourself if you believe in it. The more you believe in yourself and your dreams the less you need others to.
16. Self-love is selfish.
When you show up for yourself, you can show up for the world.
17. Your dreams should take a back seat to responsibility.
Your dreams are your responsibility. Don’t let excuses keep you from following through on your purpose.
18. The destination is the reward.
There is no destination; the journey is the reward, so start being present during your journey.
19. Being vulnerable is a sign of weakness.
Fully sharing yourself is the key to a happy life. Being vulnerable means you don’t hide away; instead you fully embrace yourself and shine your light.
20. Who you are is what you do.
You are not a noun. You are so much more than your job title, role or position in life. Start celebrating you for you, because you make a difference just as you are.
To make your own happiness list grab this FREE Love Your Life to the Fullest guide.
About the Author
Shannon Kaiser has been labeled a modern thought leader on the rise by CafeTruth. She is the bestselling author of “Find Your Happy, an Inspirational Guide to Loving Life to Its Fullest,” and the founder of the website playwiththeworld.com, which was awarded Top 75 Best Personal Growth Websites and top 100 Self-Help Blogs on the internet by The Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
She left her successful career in advertising to follow her heart and be a writer, life coach, inspirational speaker, travel writer and author. She is a five-time contributing author to the best-selling book series Chicken Soup for The Soul. Shannon’s work has been featured in media outlets such as Good Morning America, Good Day New York, Inside Edition, KATU AM Northwest. She is an online columnist for Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Tiny Buddha, Elephant Journal and The Daily Love.