Who doesn’t want to be a little more happy in life? I know I do. I think I am a fairly content and happy person most of the time, but I could stand to be a little happier. But what do I do if I want to be a happier person? The amount of advice online about how to be happy is seemingly unending.
As I read these tidbits of wisdom I always walk away with a ‘yes, but’ ringing in my mind. I think yes; ‘doing these things will likely make me happier in the moment, but will they contribute to my long term happiness?‘ Obviously that isn’t always the case. Somethings will without a doubt contribute to both my long term and my short term happiness. But some choices that will make me less happy in the short term, will set me up for more happiness later. While other choices will make me happy in the moment but stand a real chance of lowering my long term happiness.
Here are six things that I think you need to stop doing in order to be happy in the long term;
Stop Not Caring What People Think About You
I think one of the worst pieces of advice we give to people on seemingly a daily basis is to not care what other people think about them. Unless you are a fully self reliant hermit on some island in the middle of no where, what other people think of you will affect your life. There are lots of people whose opinion of me is absolutely no concern of mine. But there are other people whose opinion matters a great deal to me. The trick isn’t to not care at all, it is to decided who’s opinion of you matters.It matters to me what my wife thinks of me. It matters to me what my children think of me. It matters to me what the leaders in my church think of me. This list isn’t exhaustive but you get the point. If I didn’t care what my wife or children thought of me I may well have continued to live as if I didn’t have a wife and children. If I lived that way chances are sooner or later, I wouldn’t have to worry about having them in my life.
Stop Not Comparing Yourself To Others
Speaking about other people it actually can be very useful to compare yourself to others. I am not talking about the size of your house or any such things. I am talking about life skills. One year when I was university I had a roommate that was much more studious than I was. He became my gauge for when it was time to do school work and when it was time to relax. Everytime I saw him working/studying, I worked/studied. Every time I noticed him taking a break, I took a break. That one year we lived together was the best school year for grades I have ever had. If you want to be a good parent, compare yourself to other good parents around you and see if you are missing something. If you want to be healthy, compare your eating and exercise habits with someone you know who is fit. Maybe you will have to take a hit in happiness to admit you are not doing something perfectly, but isn’t the happiness of doing it better worth it in the long run?
Stop Not Worrying About The Future
I think worrying gets a bad reputation. We are constantly telling people who share their concerns with us to, ‘not worry about it’ and I don’t think we should always do that. While I recognize that worry can become crippling, I think taking a fully carefree approach to life is not wise either. The two things I worry most about are my children’s safety, and finances. I think my worries motivate me into positive places. I worry that our children may fall off their scooters and get hurt, so I buy them safety equipment. I worry about our bills so I work on maintaining a monthly budget. Deciding not to worry whether I can afford the things I buy may make me happy in the moment, but I suspect the day the bank forecloses on my house will be a bit of a bummer.
Stop Not Giving Up On Your Dreams
If no one ever gave up on any dream or goal the world would be filled with nothing but astronauts, princess’, people who owned dinosaurs that they could ride on and eat people that disagreed with them, and many questionable marriages between parents and children. Not all dreams come true, and that is ok. Not everyone can play professional sports, or be a movie star, or write a best selling novel. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. But it does mean one day you may have to let that dream go. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to let go of a dream that has shackled us to disappointment. When we do that we can be free to dream again, to dream of something new.
Stop Not Cleaning Your House So You Can Be With Your Family
It takes me about 30 minutes to fold and put away one load of laundry. It takes me about 30 minutes to clean up the floors in our kitchen and livingroom. It takes me only 15 minutes or so to clean up after a meal. And maybe 10 minutes to empty the dishwasher. I can ignore these somewhat simple and short tasks so I can play with my kids a little more, but the work doesn’t go away. Suddenly I have to spend an hour doing laundry. Or I have to empty the dishwasher and put in all the dirty dishes sitting on the counter. Before I know it I really will have to take an entire day to clean up, while my children clamour for the attention I can’t given them. Sometimes later is not the best time to get things done.
Stop Not Wasting A Day
Some of the best days I have are lazy pj days at home. We read a little, we play a little, we watch a movie or two as a family. We don’t experience anything new, or really accomplish anything we just have a nice day. It is ok to have days like this. You don’t need the stress of leaping from adventure to adventure, or DIY project to DIY project. Worrying that your families’ weekend instagram pictures are not candidates for motivational posters isn’t good for anyone. By all means take day trips, organize picnics, and go to museums on your weekends off. But don’t feel bad because once in a while you decide that your weekend plans are simply to watch Frozen for the 31st, 32nd and maybe if you can fit it in the 33rd time.
I can’t promise you that if you start following this advice that you will instantly feel happier. I can almost promise the opposite. But perhaps taking a moment to do a few things that may make you less happy today will make you feel a lot happier tomorrow. Now if you will excuse me I have seven loads of laundry to fold and put away.