For years I hung on to bad habits that made my life a lot harder than it needed to be. While I was a positive and optimistic individual, I continued to cause myself a lot of discomfort and suffering because of my habits.
I started living a better life when I replaced negative habits with positive habits. I had to change my ways and practice healthy mental, emotional, and physical habits every day to get to a place where life was pretty great- even when things weren’t going my way. Sure, I still have some good days and some bad days but these days there’s more good than bad and the bad aren’t usually all that bad.
I’m going to tell you what worked for me, but feel free to come up with your own positive habits that improve your life. It’s not too late to start creating positive habits in your life.
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Gratitude is the cure for what ails you- no matter what’s going on in your life. If you pause the hustle and bustle and be thankful for the good stuff you realize your life is actually pretty good- even great! There’s always something to be thankful for.
Think you need life to go your way to be happy? Think again!
Often simply making the conscious choice to be happy makes you feel a little happier. So does smiling! If you want to be happy, smile more.
Do you feel like you’re usually at odds with the people in your life? Being kind is a wonderful way to improve your relationships. Everyone deserves kindness- don’t you?
Kindness towards others is sure to improve your mood, too!
A lot of suffering you cause yourself happens when you worry about what everyone else is doing or not doing. You cause yourself pain by trying to advise, convince, and control other people. Focus on living your own best life and you’ll suffer a lot less.
And while you’re minding your business- stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking and feeling, too. Ninety percent of the time what someone else is thinking or feeling has absolutely nothing to do with you or what they think about you. It’s not about you- really, it isn’t!
You’re never going to get different results by doing the same thing. If you don’t like how your life is going, try something new!
Say “no”, say “yes”. Ask for help, ask for more responsibility. Speak up, shut up. Whatever you would normally do, try a different approach- you never know what will happen if you haven’t tried it!
People label life events as positive or negative but many situations are really neutral- neither good or bad but your judgment makes it so.
Cut off on the highway- so what? Why is your life suddenly deemed bad because of this minor annoyance? Your co-worker was late for work again? How is this really your problem unless you make it your problem?
That goes for pre-judging, too. You know, when you decide how something will go before it happens? What, you’re psychic now? Remember, a positive outcome is just as likely as a negative one.
The more you focus on what’s wrong, the more life feels all wrong.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- stop complaining. You’ll be so much happier, I promise!
You deserve a good life and the only person that can make that happen is you! The way you make it happen is by putting yourself first.
Now I’m not talking about putting yourself first at the expense of others, but you can take good care of yourself and meet your own needs before the needs of others.
Self care is the most important thing you can to do create a great life! People often look to others to meet their needs but that never really works, does it?
Yes, you need other people sometimes, but if you can’t be what you need for yourself then chances are no one else can be that for you. For example, if you don’t love you, you can’t really accept love from others.
Confidence doesn’t come from being perfect or getting it right the first time; confidence comes from doing your best and making progress.
Sometimes you have to stop and just embrace this moment. Yeah, you have goals and ambitions and you want to improve your life- great!- but it’s okay to just be. After all, you’re a human being, not a human doing.
Does your job keep you up at night? Do you work too hard? Do you care too much? Yeah, I’ve been there.
I’ve always been a little too serious with a highly developed sense of responsibility. This trait carried over into my work in a serious way. I tried to do it all and rarely said no. I stressed myself to the point it started to affect my health. After several significant illnesses I realized something had to give- my body already was.
I made a conscious choice to stop taking work too seriously. I had to give up my inflated sense of responsibility and importance. I had to make mistakes, have fun, let go, and simply be happier at work!
What did it take to stop taking work so seriously?
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I am virtually unable to be happy and stressed (or angry, or sad) at the same time. Focusing on being happy meant I felt less stress and was less likely to take every little thing that happened during the day to heart.
Being happy is easier than I thought once I stopped thinking happiness comes from the outside instead of the inside.
As a manager I thought my employee’s performance was ultimately my problem. I tried directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. If an employee didn’t live up to my expectations I was sure I was the one that failed. I made myself crazy and undoubtedly make other people a little crazy, too.
I cannot control what anyone else thinks, says, or does- that’s up to them! I can be responsible for me and me only.
I not only took on responsibility for my employees and co-workers, I took on responsibility for the overall business success but one player alone cannot win or lose the game. The more responsibility I accepted, the more serious I was about my work.
Seeing myself as part of the team helped me give up some of my responsibility and share it. Plus, it’s just more fun to work with others!
If a job was assigned to me well then I was going to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Only it turns out whatever it takes sometimes meant working myself sick. Yeah, that’s no good.
Work is less overwhelming when it’s shared so I started asking for help. The best part of asking for help wasn’t even the help I received, but the relationships I improved with the people that worked with me.
Not only did I say yes to just about every request, I volunteered to take on more without even being asked! I’m sure it’s no surprise to you I was overburdened, overworked and over-serious!
I started to say no, not only to others, but to my desire to be helpful to others all the time.
My fear of mistakes was one of the main reasons I took work too seriously- what if I screwed up? I still made mistakes and I was seriously stressed out every time I did.
When I began to accept and even embrace mistakes I stopped stressing myself out and started having more fun with my work.
All I can do is my best today, and nothing more. It doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of me, or expects of me. It doesn’t really matter what I think or expect from myself!
Since I don”t control what happens next, I’ve found it easier to focus on just doing my part. In the end all I can really do is my best.
The more I focused on goals, results, and achievements, the more seriously I took my work. I gave all of myself today for a presumed future win but it was like planting spring seeds and not watering them- with my mind always on tomorrow I wasn’t making the most of today.
Focusing on simply doing my best work for this day only made today a whole lot happier and yielded better results.
Another reason I took work so seriously was because I worried what might happen if I lost my job. I tended towards worst-case-scenario thinking and imagined myself becoming homeless and living on the street. While losing everything was a possibility, it wasn’t very likely to happen. I needed to believe in myself.
I am a competent, smart, and resourceful person. When I was laid off I bounced back just fine. I didn’t end up homeless. Was losing my job difficult?- hell yeah, it was- but I got through it. Whatever happens, I’ll face it. I can do this!
If there was one underlying reason I was too serious about my work it’s because I was constantly assigning either positive or, most of the time, negative value to everyone and everything that happened at work.
Instead of doing my best with what’s in front of me I lamented and complained over every perceived injustice. I made myself miserable! I had to stop blaming everyone and everything to find some peace in my work and my life.
For years most of my big decisions were based in fear. I worried about what might happen and more often than not choose the “safer” choice- but not the choice that would make me happy, not the choice that was really right for me.
Fear-based decision making isn’t even really about achieving a desirable outcome- it’s usually an attempt to calm the fear I’m feeling in the moment.
Fear-based decision making is also strongly influenced by assumptions, expectations, and judgments. I fear what others might think of my choices so the safe choice is to do what everyone else did, or what someone else thought was right for me.
“Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop.” ~Usman B. Asif
When I look back at my life every single time I made a fearful choice, the outcome of that choice was undesirable. Even knowing this, fear’s influence remains strong when I’m faced with a major decision.
Recently I was faced with a big decision- what to do about the burnout I was experiencing on the job. I was looking for another job but in the meantime I stayed at that job, continuing to overwork myself and expose myself to bullying from a particular manager.
What could I do? I need a paycheck to pay the bills. Some of my friends and family advised me to “play it safe” and keep my job until I found another one. Even though the job was literally making me ill, I had no choice, right?
Then I realized that was the fear talking. I had no reason to believe I wouldn’t be able to find another job right away. I was making myself sick over a worst-case-scenario that may or may not happen. I was willing to continue to live in an unmanageable situation to avoid the possibility of a different unmanageable situation in the future.
I thought back to my one word goal for 2013- fearless. Right, this year I’m making a conscious choice to fear less. I kicked fear to the curb and took a leap of faith. Instead of giving in to fear, I chose to believe in myself! I chose to believe that a positive outcome is just as likely as a negative one- and it was! I gave notice of my resignation without another job lined up and found another job almost right away.
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” ~Helen Keller
Sure, my situation could have worked out differently but I didn’t make a rash decision, I made the best possible choice I could in that situation.
I analyzed our finances and came up with a plan to get by if I didn’t find another job right away. I started cutting unneeded items from our budget. I was prepared to take a temporary position with a tax preparation service. If I couldn’t find a job, I could dip into our savings. My backup options were not ideal but neither was working myself sick and getting bullied at my job!
In the end I didn’t have to resort to my worst-case-scenario options. My worst fears didn’t come true, and I was able to remove myself from an unhealthy work situation. Fear – 0, Faith – 1!
I don’t know what will happen in the future. Situations may work out the way I hope they will, or they may not. I can’t know how it will work out but I can choose to make wise decisions based on what is right for me instead of making decisions based in fear. One thing I’ve learned is letting Captain Fear steer the ship I’m not making healthy and loving choices.
“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday, and I love today.” ~William Allen White
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I love your comments! When you made a choice motivated by fear, how did it work out for you? Are you facing a major decision today? What would happen if you made the choice that you know is right instead of listening to fear?