People ask me all the time why I’m always so happy.
I’ll tell you a secret—I’m not always “so happy” per say, but I am quite content with my life. I just seem like I’m “so happy” to a lot of people, because I’m not weighed down by habits that block our happiness.
As humans, we have an innate tendency to get all caught up in the way we think the world should be, and this includes our version of how everyone else should act. What we don’t realize is that this is a trap of unhappiness.
I believe anyone can live happily by letting go of these three habits that are sure to block happiness:
Expectations. They are just a setup for disappointment. Expectations are like that. They arise in the ego and dominate how we think everyone in the world “should” be. Our limited ego mind tells us that everyone should be like us, and we constantly judge life by “right” and “wrong.” We don’t communicate our expectations, and this results in a constant cycle of disappointment because (most of us) are not mind readers.
Allow me to illustrate. If I expect others to intuitively know when I need space or alone time, I am going to constantly be frustrated when they interrupt me. Because, in my mind, they should know better. Oh…really? They should know better about something I never told them? This arises from an expectation that they should read my mind and mood—which isn’t very fair, is it?
When we place expectations on the world and people, we not only set ourselves up for constant dissatisfaction, we set them up for failure as well. This is the number one perpetuator of unhappiness and discontent for all of us, unless we practice mindfully letting go of our expectations. To do this, we must first admit we have them and figure out what they are.
Perception. Let’s discuss quickly what perception is exactly. It is defined as: a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression. It comes from the Latin word perceptio, which means “understand.” So essentially, it is how we see the world.
What we often don’t realize is that we can change our perception. This is one of the key elements to the happiness work I do with clients. For example, if I am bitter, angry, judgemental, hurt, sad, fearful, and so on—I am going to perceive that the world is full of these things. When I shift to happiness, joy, love, forgiveness, and compassion—I start to perceive more of these in the world.
Perception has everything to do with what we look for and seek out in the world. There’s a quote that has been attributed to various people over the years that says:“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.”
That’s the simple wisdom and truth of it. It goes a long way when we apply it to our own life and happiness. So, ask yourself—what do you see in the world and where is that within you? That is often the very key to tapping into happiness and contentment. This brings us to the next habit that goes hand in hand with perception.
Taking it all personally. (Projection) Our ego would have us believe that we are the center of the universe, yes? Sound familiar? I know mine did for years, and it almost killed me. I took everything everyone did around me as a personal affront for 33 long years. I was so stuck in my selfish and self-centered convictions that I believed it was all about me. This wasn’t conscious at all—it was buried deep within, yet it colored every area of my life. Allow me to illustrate.
Growing up, I was highly sensitive. I didn’t know it was called empathic. As a result, I picked up on everything, but especially my Dad’s inner unhealed traumas, anger, and pain. I took it on, and I carried it and internalized it as a reflection of me and my worth, or lack thereof. This belief system then permeated my actions and kept me perpetually miserable while fueling my addictions.
Guess what? Nothing anyone does is about us! Even when it feels like it is—it’s not. Not our bosses, families, friends, or strangers. None of their actions have anything to do with us. We may trigger something, and they may project onto us, but this does not mean it’s ours. Sorry to burst the ego bubble, but it’s true. We are not the center of the world.
When we are unable to look within and take responsibility for our actions and emotions, we project them onto others. This leads to perpetual discontent and anger—because by doing this, we give up our power and put responsibility for our well-being onto others. This isn’t fair once we are grown people living in the world. If something triggers you, look at it before you start blaming and accusing.
If any of this resonates with you or sounds familiar, you might want to begin a practice to shift these habits. If you really want to rewrite the way you see the world, I suggest meditation, affirmations, breathwork, and yoga.
Happiness can be a choice, but it takes work to maintain it!
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Image: Tareck Raffoul
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina