You know those folks, right? The ones always in turmoil, always if not actually miserable still teetering on the edge. They’re everywhere! And it seems nothing you do or say ever has any impact on their attitudes.
Sometimes I think unhappy folks just want to be unhappy. We know anger causes an adrenaline rush. And though I can’t point to any specific scientific knowledge of this, I’m fairly sure there’s some sort of hormonal action in chronic unhappiness.
Can’t exactly pinpoint that though! Because when I’m not happy, well, I miss being happy. And we have so many ways to turn that picture around!
Unhappy people have lots of traits in common, and we can learn from those and flip them on their heads to keep well-being in mind.
- They blame others for their problems, not taking personal responsibility. You know, sometimes other folks get us into messes. And while that’s true, who made the decision to do whatever they were doing? Had we not jumped onto their sinking ship, we wouldn’t be in this position. It all comes back to that central person—moi. I had a dear friend for whom this was her constant MO. Everything was always everybody else’s fault. Good grief, the bad decisions she made! Which put her in that place (constantly) of playing the victim. The vicious cycle of blame/victimhood continued throughout her life.
- They seek approval from others. Which might be why they made the decision above. And while we all would like to be showered with accolades, those are fleeting—whatever the circumstance. The more you need and seek others’ approval, the more you give away your own power over your life. But when the approval you seek is from your own heart, you always have a touchstone for what’s best for you.
- They don’t forgive others. Yep, sometimes it’s really tough to do. “But he hurt me!” the ego shouts. “And I’m right, damn it!” All at least most likely true. Doesn’t change what holding a grudge does to your own psyche, though. That old saying really is true: “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” Now, that’s true insanity.
Forgiving is never about someone else—it’s finding that place in your heart that’s wounded, and healing it.
- They strive to control their world. You know, you get to a point in life and can see how truly laughable this is. Although we plan and take steps and work toward, well, whatever, so many variables exist in every situation that are just not under our control. And there’s nothing you can do about that. If you’re driving north to the big dog show in the middle of winter and the blizzard comes, well, that’s just the way that is. Happened to me twice in two years. The first time I confess, I didn’t handle it well! The second time I laughed about it. Still wanted to go, but those are the breaks!
What we do know about folks who try and control their worlds, is that the older you get, the more exacting the toll on your psyche, your life, and even your physical self. Anxiety is a really bad task master, the hormonal rush of angst playing havoc on the digestive and circulatory systems. And frankly, we don’t have time for that—we have a life to lead! Learning to let go is so amazingly freeing.
- They take negative events personally, and believe them to be pervasive and permanent. The corollary to number one, this line of defense (and every negative thing is a defense of the ego) believes that you’re at fault for every bad event that happens in your world. “I’m such an idiot.” “I always make stupid mistakes.” “I’ll never learn.” “I never win.” In black and white, doesn’t that look insane? But so many people have these sorts of tapes playing in their heads, and it’s so constant they don’t really notice them. These thoughts will absolutely keep you from achieving any of your goals (and then oddly bring you back to number one!).
Honestly, you didn’t cause the war. Someone might have but it wasn’t you. And seriously—do you always make stupid mistakes? Can’t you look back and find good decisions in the past? And you never win? I guess that person exists, but I don’t know her J Stop yourself when these tapes play. Just STOP. And counter that assassin’s voice in your head with the truth.
- They focus on what they don’t have. Boy, is this a minefield. One of those things that correlates between psychology and spirituality, is that what you think about expands. Oh, not in an airy-fairy way, but literally. If you focus constantly on not having that new car, boyfriend, house, job, whatever, then you aren’t mapping out steps to achieve the goal you seek. e., you’re keeping yourself boxed and down—no one else is doing that to you.
Conversely, when you find gratitude for what you do have (and unless you’re living in some third-world country with no clean drinking water, you have a lot of good), this expands as well. Endorphins increase. You can see what steps you took to gain whatever the good is, and face the future with sustainable cheer. Which helps you to find solutions to any issues that arise.
It is impossible to be in gratitude and fear at the same time. Which one will you choose?
- They don’t follow their heart. Almost always, because of the previous six. When nothing’s your fault, when you need another’s blessing, when you carry around grudges, when you seek to control your world and everyone in it, when your focus is on what you don’t have, well, there simply isn’t enough energy left to walk toward what you do
And what you want matters. Not just to your life, but to the rest of the world as well. We don’t need a host of depressed, defeated, bitter folks who are not contributing to society—which is exactly what happens to those who give up their dreams. We need far more energetic, inspired people chasing those dreams to invigorate this world.
The world needs your energy. Which life will you choose?