Happiness isn’t a destination. It’s a choice in life that you need to make over and over again. Today I’m sharing three difficult truths, that if you can learn to accept, will increase your happiness.
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Three Difficult Truths to Accept to Increase Your Happiness
Some People Just Aren’t Going to Like You
That one darn co-worker. An unrequited love interest. The neighbor or acquaintance that never seems happy to see you. No matter how fabulous of a person you are, there are going to be some people that just don’t like you. Know that this has less to do with you and more to do with them. Maybe you remind them of someone they had a painful relationship with. Perhaps they feel in competition with you. Maybe you just have radically different interests or viewpoints. Who knows? Just accept it and move on.
An even harder pill to swallow is when someone that use to be a friend no longer has an interest in the friendship. You’ve got a couple of options here:
- Depending on your comfort level and the importance of the relationship, you can gently reach out and ask if something occurred to change things. The drawback to this is that some people will not be honest in their response in order to combat their own discomfort with conflict, leaving you even more confused and frustrated.
- Or, you can accept their cues of pulling back. This doesn’t mean you can’t grieve what once was. But in accepting their new normal, you free yourself of the worry that comes along with trying to control things that you just have no say-so about. See the last of the difficult truths below for more on this!
Comparing Yourself to Others is Self-Defeating
People have been comparing themselves to others since the dawn of man. It’s just a part of the human psyche. As the world shrinks and, as social media has exploded, it’s become even easier to do so. However, if you can manage this tendency, a happier life will be your reward!
Have you ever noticed how our inclination to compare usually focuses on those we perceive as having MORE than we do? A little trick I like to use to keep this in check is to remind myself of all the people with LESS than what I have. It’s essentially the same as a gratitude list.
We rarely know the back story of people we perceive as having more. Is it possible that they work a lot harder? Procrastinate less? Have a better source of funding? Take more risks? Have more connections or a fantastic mentor/support group? Or are just plain luckier?
By reframing a comparison to focus on what you HAVE instead of what you LACK, you take back your control of the situation. And research has shown that people who feel a sense of control/autonomy within their lives tend to feel happier.
It Doesn’t Pay to Worry About Things You Can’t Control
Not all things that are out of our control are bad! For instance, take the New York man, Juan Hernandez, that recently won $10 million on a scratch off for the second time in three years! But obsessing on the bad stuff that is out of our control is what diminishes our happiness. The unexpected death of a loved one. The accident that limited your physical abilities. The unsettling medical diagnosis.
In my opinion, this is the most difficult of the truths to accept because they are necessarily painful. However, accepting things out of your control does not mean denying their pain. It means limiting the degree to which they affect your life.
I won’t lie. Doing this is difficult and takes a lot of ongoing practice. A method that has helped me is to:
- Confirm that the issue IS out of your control versus a solvable problem.
- Acknowledge your feelings surrounding the circumstances (i.e., I’m scared, I’m sad, I feel broken or lost).
- Commit to accepting. Remind yourself that everything has a cause. You can agree that something is painful or frustrating but still be accepting of it.
- Keep showing up in the world. Keep participating in life. When this proves to be difficult, I think about the cost of failing to accept the circumstance. The diagnosis isn’t going to change. The loved one is not going to come back. With that in mind, do you want to want to misuse your precious time in this life worrying about something unchangeable or do you want to pave a way for happiness by accepting reality and not letting the worry surrounding it steal that precious time?
- Repeat as necessary.
Change doesn’t happen overnight but I can promise that practicing acceptance of these difficult truths will lead you to become a more resilient and happier being. As I said at the start of this post, happiness isn’t a destination. It’s a choice that you need to make over and over again. How are you going to choose happier today?
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