Bad habits that can lead to unhappiness

Making happiness a choice is what it’s all about. No matter what your personal or professional circumstances, you can adjust your attitude and elevate your “degree of overall happiness” by choosing to shift your present mindset. When you fully appreciate that the mood you’re in right this second affects how you’ll deal with what’s coming next, you will want to make the choices that will help you to feel better, not worse. That, my friend, is a major key to living a successful, happy life. Remember: When shift happens, your life changes.

Many of my clients refer to me as “The Attitude Adjuster” because I help people realize how they can acquire the attitude and mindset they need to succeed in all levels of life while enjoying the process. Therein lays the key: “while enjoying the process.” Unfortunately, in this day and age, enjoyment seems to be something that many people leave by the wayside, especially when change is taking place and the pressure is on to reinvent yourself and achieve new goals, or when there are tight deadlines to be met and things aren’t going exactly as planned. Now more than ever, people are having difficulty balancing their lives, and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done. This is when stress levels become overwhelming and self-doubt, anger, uncertainty, fear and a host of other negative emotions can create a dangerous mindset. Without realizing it, people deny themselves enjoyment and lose their ability to laugh and have fun at the time when it’s most crucial.

What truly amazes me is that there are those who actually believe if you are enjoying yourself and having fun at work, you’re simply not doing your job properly. That’s BS! The fact is, and you can prove this to yourself at any time, if you’re having fun at work, everyone benefits. This holds true for every aspect of our lives. No matter who you are or what you’re doing—whether you’re teaching or learning—if you are enjoying the process, the odds are in your favor that you’ll achieve the outcome you desire. It seems obvious to consciously choose happiness, but I would wager any amount of money that when writing out their short-term or long-term goals and plans, most people don’t count enjoying themselves during the process as part of the equation.

Let me quickly define for you what I mean when I refer to “the process.” It’s not just the steps you take in a direct effort to achieve a particular goal, but it is your life in its entirety. This means all daily activities that make up your life—whether picking up your dry cleaning, shopping for food, feeding the baby or taking a nap. In other words, “the process” is your life.

“If choosing happiness is such an obvious thing to do,” you may ask, “then why is it so darn hard to remember to do it consistently?” This is a fair question, and here is one answer that may surprise you.

The workout crazes of the early ‘80s brought about the phrase “No pain, no gain,” and American culture was quick to adopt it in every facet of life. “‘No pain, no gain’ is an American modern mini-narrative,” David Morris wrote in The Scientist in 2005. “It compresses the story of a protagonist who understands that the road to achievement runs only through hardship.” The perception and mindset was, and continues to be, that if you’re having fun, you must not be getting anything worthwhile done. I’ll say it again: I call BS! Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that everyone sit around all day being content with what they have. I’m suggesting that not only is it OK, but it’s your right to enjoy every step you take toward achieving your goals. If you are consistently making choices to enjoy yourself during the process of whatever it is that you are trying to achieve, you will more than likely get there easier and faster.

Therefore, we have to be aware of the mindsets we create that defer happiness in our lives. We must be diligent and remind ourselves that the constant pressure to achieve our professional and personal goals is no reason not to enjoy the steps along the way.