Sometimes I wish I could talk to my former self. I’d love to go back to Dawn at age 16 or 26 or 36 and tell her the things I know now. I’d love to help her keep from:
- worrying about things that don’t matter (like what other people think about me — Hello, most of the time, they don’t.)
- conjuring up worries about things that won’t ever happen (Just chill already.)
- wasting so much time (It’s a limited resource after all. And those TV reruns aren’t that important!)
But then I realize that Dawn at the ripe old age of 46 is still making some of those same mistakes. Too many moments are given up to the not important, the out-of-my-control, and the less-important. Obligations crowd out relationships; stress crowds out self-care; and worry crowds out belief and productivity.
So, I sat down and jotted out a list of the things I’d tell my younger self — and then made a promise to actually listen to my own advice. I’m planning to print out the list and tape it to my mirror and my computer and my writing desk. Maybe I even need to make a mini version to tape to the back of my hand. In case the list would help you, I’m sharing it here:
7 Happiness Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Now
- Worrying too much about happiness. I know, I know. That seems counterintuitive on a list focusing on happiness, but I think the more we try to concentrate on making ourselves happy the less likely we are to actually feel happy. We tend to note the ways that we don’t feel happy, the people around us who seem happier or more blessed than we are, or the areas in our life that could use a little work.
- Not stopping to count your blessings. Gratitude is a hugely important part of actually becoming happier and more content. Look for good things in your world. Celebrate them. Express thanks for them. Even if you have a hard time thinking up things for which you can be thankful, realize that they are there. We just need to tune our hearts so that we’re listening. Write down or speak out loud the things that make you grateful and make it a daily practice.
- Not giving yourself a break. Life isn’t all roses and sunshine. Sometimes we have bad days. Sometimes we’re sick. Sometimes we grieve. Sometimes we just need to wear our fat clothes and stay home. Being too hard on yourself can derail your efforts because none of us is perfect. We will slip, we will make mistakes, and we will need to give ourselves a break. Forgive yourself and move on.
- Giving yourself too many breaks. While we all have those days when we need more self-indulgence, we also need to realize that there comes a time when we need to get up and get moving again. It might be recommitting to a diet or exercise plan, starting to work — again — on a long-overdue project, or just admitting that we were on the wrong path and need to start fresh. No good comes to those who are content to just wallow in the muck.
- Not taking care of yourself. One of the first things to go when I don’t feel well is my exercise routine. I’ll tell myself that I need more rest or I need time to focus on another project, knowing full well that I feel better and more productive when I’m taking the time to exercise regularly. Nike says it best: “Just do it!” Make exercise a priority.
- Not eating right. I’ve had a hard day; I deserve this cheeseburger! No one deserves a cheeseburger. We might want a cheeseburger, we may even choose a cheeseburger, but deserve it? What we deserve is to take better care of ourselves, to think about more than just the yummy taste on our lips, to ask if it’s worth trading in our goals and dreams for a few bites of something.
- Not believing in yourself and your dreams. If you don’t believe in yourself who will? Too often we limit ourselves by saying we can’t do this or we can’t do that. We have a dream, but we are often quick to talk ourselves out of trying to achieve it, labeling it as impossible or impractical or just dumb. We give up before we try. Sometimes we think we are doing this to protect ourselves from being disappointed, but it’s really self-sabotage. You want to be a writer? Write. You want to be a dancer? Dance. You want to learn something or be something or change something? Come up with a plan and get moving.
BONUS: I know I’m a nerd but I always loved it on tests when we had a chance to earn bonus points. So, as a bonus, I’ll throw in one extra Happiness Mistake for you to think about:
Relying too much on yourself. As a Christian, I believe God offers to help us with our burdens and to walk with us through the dailyness of days. Rely on Him; build a relationship with Him. I also believe He gives us people (family or friends or both) to share our lives and with whom we can share our hearts. Talk with a trusted friend. Don’t have a friend? Be one, get involved with groups of people with shared interests, reach out to your Pink Typewriter friends. We care and are here for you.
Do you have other Happiness Mistakes that you would add to the list? Share them below along with how you have overcome them or are working to do so.