Just like a skilled golfer who surveys their course for bunkers and hazards, we need to survey our future. Relationships with your spouse, family and friends will be much smoother if you examine your journey ahead and take note of potential hazards to your happiness.
Planning for your future goes far beyond finances and basic means. It should also include a plan for your happiness that avoids any unnecessary bumps in the road. Today, we are exposing five hurdles that can steal your happiness; but only if you let them.
1. Comparing Ourselves to Others
The reason comparing ourselves to others sabotages our happiness is simple – we immediately become ungrateful. Jealousy overrides gratitude. So how can you turn this kind of negative comparison around? Stop focusing on negative comparisons and substitute them with a positive one. In other words, consider people who don’t have it as well as you do. The instant you realize how blessed you are is the moment your gratitude will increase and your dissatisfaction will dissipate.
2. Holding On to Pride
Pride is a saboteur of happiness. It has a way of seeping into our conversations even when we are consciously inclined to avoid it. Research shows that when pride sets in, a partner will continue an argument 24 percent of the time even if they know they are wrong. And a full 74 percent will fight on even if they feel it’s a loss.
How can you avoid pride? By allowing humility to take its place. Humility isn’t for cowards, it’s risky. Humility makes us vulnerable, but it also makes possible everything we truly want to be. Without humility it’s nearly impossible to engender kindness and warmth with our spouse and others. Humility will help you find happiness in your marriage.
3. Obsessing Over the Past
Your present is inextricably linked to your past. When you are weighed down by regret, pain or guilt over things that happened two decades ago, two weeks ago and even two hours ago, you will not be able to live fully in the present. Any attention you give to your past can’t help but distract you from your current relationships.
How do you overcome this? By healing your hurts. Focus where it hurts and get over any past jealousy, irritation, hurt, or trust issues that are lingering. It’s a process of self-exploration that can sometimes be lengthy, but is well worth it. When you can avoid obsessing over the past, you can fully enjoy the present.
4. Fixating on the Future
Planning for the future is a good thing, but putting your current life on hold because you are so fixated on “what will be” is not. Never allow your happiness to wait for you in the future. If you have the “once I complete this goal, then I will be happy” mentality you are missing out on the current happiness you can have now.
Life is here and now – not there and then. It’s good to have goals, but focus on making yourself happy while you work on obtaining them. Don’t spend your life preparing to live. Do your best to live in the present. Happiness need not be put on hold.
5. Giving In to the Silver Medal Syndrome
Not all medals are created equal. Research reveals that gold medal winners are happiest. But the next results were surprising; the bronze medalists were happier than the silver. Silver medalist think “I came so close to winning gold” while bronze medalists think “I almost didn’t get a medal and am grateful to be on the podium.” One reflects on what they have and the other reflects on what they don’t have.
This is the silver medal syndrome. It’s tempting to want more rather than be grateful for what we have. And when you focus on what you don’t have, happiness wanes. Don’t give in to the silver medal syndrome. Focus on what you have and be grateful for it.
As you move forward in life, keep an eye out for these five hazards – and stay focused on the happiness you have in the present. If you’d like to explore more on this topic, check out our book Making Happy.
Which of the five hazards do you get stuck on most often. How can you avoid this in the future? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!