Almost daily you can hear someone complain about their life, their day, some part of their job or something else. The commonality across their statements is that something is wrong somehow and they’re not happy. Stop and take a minute to consider what they’re complaining about and most often you can recognize a common cause that boils down to one of a few things:
1) They are doubting themselves in some way. A lot of complaints we hear are based on the individual’s lack of confidence. “Why would my boss give me that task? I’m not sure I can do that,” is an example. It’s not a grievous complaint but it’s a negative statement about what the boss has done and a self-doubt about the person’s ability to accomplish the given task.
2) They are making excuses for why they can’t do something or why something is going to make their day worse in some way. “I didn’t sleep well last night and I just don’t have the energy for this.” Some of us are blessed to get a perfect night’s sleep most nights. Most of us don’t. Our sleep is interrupted or we don’t get as many hours as we’d like. Fatigue, hunger, disappointment… These are all distractions and we use them as excuses for why we can’t accomplish a given task.
3) They rely on others to make them happy. I’ve known a woman most of my life who, to this day, doesn’t realize that she’s solely responsible for her own happiness. She will still complain about what others do, even though they have no control over her. They are her excuse. “Well, she offered me that second desert and I couldn’t very politely say no… so I had to eat it and now I’ve got to spend extra time in the gym to work it off. It’s her fault for offering.” Really? No. It’s YOUR fault for sticking that fork in your mouth with that second big slice of chocolate cake.
4) They are complaining about what they have to do to make other people happy. We often do things we don’t really want to do and we do so to make someone we like and/or care about happier. We’re doing something nice. If we’re complaining about having to do it, maybe we shouldn’t do it in the first place? How nice of a thing can you be doing if you’re outlook toward it is so negative?
5) They are playing the victim card. It is an unfortunate reality in our world today that a great many people wake up sure that they are the victim… of something. It might take them a while to figure out what they are the victim of for that particular day or in that particular moment, but they wake up sure they are the victim of something. Whatever it is, it’s someone else’s fault because to be a victim someone has to be doing something to you. It’s almost entertaining when they claim to be the victim of something that was done to someone else a long time ago… but they’re still the victim and how dare you try to tell them otherwise!
6) They are letting societal expectations or society’s “new norm” determine what they do, when they do it, or how they go about it. They are letting the expectations of others impact their actions so much that they aren’t doing what they want to do anymore… but are instead doing what they feel they have to do to either fit in, be normal, be hip, be in fashion… whatever.
If you want to live a better life, stop using any of those six things as a reason to be unhappy or as the basis of a complaint you voice. YOU have the power to change every one of them, so stop using them. There are some other things you can START doing to increase your quality of life.
Start having faith in yourself and focus on the positive instead of the negative. Confidence is a wondrous thing and it empowers us to live a more positive, productive and happy life. Instead of doubting yourself, have confidence in yourself. As long as your confidence is based on any sense of reality (as an example, if you’ve never snow skied before, you shouldn’t be confident you can ski the most difficult slope the first time out), you should be more optimistic.
Where you might think you need to be with others to increase your happiness, start trying to enjoy some time alone. It’s been said, if you can’t be happy alone, you can’t be happy with someone else. We all have those special folks in our life that we’re usually happy to be around, but we shouldn’t NEED to be around them to be happy. Being around them should increase our happiness; not create our happiness. Understanding and incorporating that outlook into our thinking and motivational process can help us move toward making our own happiness day to day and relying less on others for it.
Start expressing your creativity. At what? That is entirely up to you. I know people who are writers, painters, calligraphers, photographers, steel fabricators… what drives you? What is on your mind when you wake up in the morning? What do you like to do to express yourself? Do you want to weave baskets? Do it. Want to paint crab shells? Do it. Want to write a novel? DO IT. Find the medium through which you enjoy expressing yourself and do it.
Turn off all those electronic doohickies and go outside. Look at the sky… the trees… the plants. Feel the breeze and smell the scents it brings with it. Walk… climb… swim. Do something outside and connect with nature for a bit. There are any number of studies that have now shown that constant exposure to the lighting and electrical emissions from our electronic toys hurts our sleep cycles, our vision, our brain patterns and more. We need to disconnect sometimes and in those moments of disconnecting from the toys, CONNECT with nature. Let your mind wander as you do and you might be surprised by the inspiration you find bubbling to the surface.
This last part is kind of cool because it’s cyclic and self-feeding: Acknowledge your desires and make what you want happen. Doing so not only feeds your desires but creates new ones for you to then pursue making reality. Once you realize that you CAN make your dreams come true, the feeling of empowerment is tremendous and you’ll soon find that you have more dreams to pursue.
Ultimately, the bottom line is that YOU have the power to make yourself happier. YOU have the power to stop being negative and start being positive. YOU have the power to limit how much of an impact others have on your day, your life, your happiness. YOU have the power to make your dreams come true as you identify them and pursue them. YOU can enjoy the feelings of happiness and satisfaction that comes with making those dreams come true… day in and day out.