You’re In Your Own Way: Why It Feels So Hard To Be Happy

Many of us will spend a lifetime wondering why it feels so hard to be happy, attempting to decipher who we are and what our purpose is.

Whether the infinite chaos of life has you wrangled up or you’re simply getting in your own way — it’s hard to have faith in a process that lacks any truly linear progression.

To have faith doesn’t mean you get any less frustrated when you don’t do your best, but you know that it’s not life and death. Take what you’re given, and when you continue to work hard, you will see results. That will give you the confidence you need to keep going.

Tom Lehman

Contrary to what you may think, finding eternal happiness isn’t about eliminating each and every hurdle you face; it’s about fluidly maneuvering through and/or around them.

I’ve spent countless nights pondering the origin of my existence, comforted by nothing more than the warmth of my rock salt lamp. Hoping to uncover some incredible secret, I wished and hoped with every ounce of my being that I could find a way to entirely abolish all of my problems.

Interestingly, the further I dove down that rabbit hole, the more I realized that I possessed an extreme amount of control over the hurdles I often encountered.

As you read about the issues I’ve faced through my own intensely mindful introspection, consider what’s stopping you from being happy currently. If any of these headings cause a type of instant friction within your soul, it’s probably time to consider observing yourself more frequently and adjusting the patterns you invite into your life.

You’re Following A Victim Mentality

This has the potential to be your most toxic trait. It can absolutely consume you and it will redefine you to your core.

No one truly knows what you’re going through currently, what you have gone through, or what lies ahead waiting for you. If you’ve ever actually been the victim of something, you know it can be really hard to feel happy or recover from these types of event(s).

That being said, stop pointing your finger at every inconvenience you come across. Putting the blame on everything around you and victimizing yourself only keeps you frozen, locked in place. You cannot find your inner motivation if you believe the world somehow owes you something for a problem you are equally responsible in solving.

It’s easy to label yourself as a certain archetype. Something similar to “always anxious” or “forever depressed” comes to mind when I think of all the times I managed to convince myself that I was the victim of my own mind.

The truth is, you constantly assume that somehow these issues are out of your hands and playing the victim of unfortunate circumstances eases the difficulty of solving your own problems.

Just as a skydiver manipulates their gravitational pull with a parachute, you too can manipulate the reality around you with your perspective. Even if your current obstacles are ones you didn’t create for yourself, it’s still up to you to provide a solution to the puzzle.

You Need To Go The F**k To Sleep

Early to bed and early to rise makes a [person] healthy, wealthy and wise.

Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack

Be honest with yourself for a moment: do you take care of yourself? Do you follow proper nutrition standards and brush your teeth multiple times a day? What about cleaning up your home or organizing your mental space?

It seems as if everyone is set on cutting corners within their personal lives to achieve a level of greatness within their career or portfolio. Is it possible, however, that our pursuit for happiness begins with lying under a set of soft sheets?

Psychologist Norbert Schwarz made a bold statement about sleep that may indicate just how important it is for feeling more fulfilled with your day to day life.

Making $60,000 more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night.

Norbert Schwarz

If, like me, you fail to set and follow a proper sleep schedule, then it may be advisable to cut back on pre-bedtime activities.

Set an alarm to remind you when it’s time to settle down and put away anything overly stimulating. Use the time to reflect on your life, collect your thoughts, and prepare for tomorrow.

You may even find that staring at the back of your eyelids can help make you feel happier than watching other people live their lives on YouTube.

You Fail To Plan Anything

Life is a treasure chest full of infinite variables and possibilities. One day you may stumble upon something magnificent, but if you do it will have been by pure luck.

I used to feel like I was drifting through my life. A mere puppet being dragged by a string with my toes scuffing the ground behind me. I would let anything and everything happen as I hoped for the best, failing to account for any potential outcomes or scenarios.

If you’re unhappy with your life, consider writing out a plan. Write down every variable you believe you have the power to change and create branches off of those variables. In detail, describe potential strategies you can use to create a solution or modify the variable.

While you won’t be able to influence everything, learning to manipulate and control the variables life throws at us is an invaluable tool in finding happiness. In doing this it becomes less and less hard to be happy — perhaps even easy for some people.

You Try To Plan Everything

A plan is everything in life. It can make or break us depending on how well we manage to organize the data we collect. Sometimes, though, there’s something you inevitably can’t plan for. If you feel like it’s hard to be happy and you find yourself obsessing over potential ways to change that, consider planning less. Just a little less, though.

I spent years of my life wasting away behind flow charts, excel sheets, and lengthy word documents. The thing about making plans though, is that at times you can be too thorough. Like me, you’ll find yourself wasting away as you try to route an entire series of events through your singular, narrow viewpoint.

You’re trying so hard to account for variables X, Y, and Z when you’re only ever going to encounter S and Q.

Stop frantically searching for every immediate answer and let the situation play out. Employ a system of methodically placed checks and plan your life in a way that you could continue it without one. When you let go of your perceived control and learn to influence only the essential variables, your plan becomes clearer and your goal becomes closer.

You Never Take Chances

It’s of my opinion that our search for a greater purpose is our purpose. Beyond that, I believe our purpose in life is to explore the infinite realm of possibilities. It’s all about taking a calculated risk on something.

You may not know how something is going to turn out, but you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided it was worth it. This is the type of chance you should take in life, and it’s the type of chance you should take often.

If there is no risk to something, the reward often times feels like anything other than a benefit. It’s okay to make mistakes, to be told no, and to take a risk on something. No one who ever achieved anything worth while did it purely by the book.

Next time you fear potential rejection or a negative outcome, ask yourself “is it really so bad if something goes wrong?” Most of the time you’ll learn a lot more from failing than you will from blindly succeeding.

If knowledge is power, then your failures become your greatest strengths. Taking a chance could be what’s separating you from the adventure of a lifetime. Ask the universe a question and accept any response you get in return.

In a world littered with millions of “no”s, proudly be the individual who takes a chance and receives a life changing “yes” in return.

You Need To Master Mindful Thinking

The verdict is in: it can be really hard to be happy. Life is going to take every chance it gets to encourage you to let go and give up. As we progress through this madness, it becomes easier to lean into the twists and turns of self-pity and escapist thought patterns.

Practicing mindfulness for only five minutes is enough to benefit your life and increase the passion you feel towards the idea of tomorrow. Finding a reason for anything can be difficult, let alone finding a purpose for existence.

Mindfulness is defined as the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. In mindful thinking, you’re actively meditating as you observe your innermost state of being. You acknowledge all thoughts, sensations, emotions, fears, and judgments. Through the act of mindfulness, we learn to communicate with ourselves directly and efficiently.

Whether you’re destined to be a plumber, pilot, or politician, your journey and the experiences you have will define you well beyond the actual end result. Through our trials and tribulations we learn the most about our efficiency and well being, collecting experience in place of rewards.

You may not know who you are today, tomorrow, or ten years from now. The epiphany of purpose may never be revealed to you in your lifetime. I can promise you, however, that a life spent observing what “is” will yield more rewards than one spent questioning what “could be”.

It’s up to you to take responsibility for the actions that define tomorrow and the rest of your life. In your quest for self-realization, only you can set the sails of intention into the winds of passionate curiosity.

May your journey exude fulfillment and the knowledge you gain remain infinitely rewarding. Never stop seeking answers and never believe that you can’t — because 99% of the time you absolutely can.