In life, there are some facts that are rather easy to accept. Among them, at least for me, are that: 1) you can’t change someone else no matter how much you want to, 2) laundry and dishes will never do themselves, and 3) Monday, the most dreaded work day, will always follow Sunday, the eternal day of rest.
However, there are some facts that I, along with several others I’ve talked to over the years, have found much harder to swallow. Here they are, as well as some things you can do to start to appreciate them for the realities they are if you’ve struggled with them too.
Happiness Is a Choice
How many times have you said, “I’ll be happy when…”? Maybe it’s when you pay off your debt, when you finally lose your excess weight, or when you buy the car or home of your dreams. Whatever follows your “when,” you’ve basically decided that your happiness lies somewhere in the future, after certain conditions are met. Unfortunately, this isn’t how happiness works.
Happiness isn’t something you get; it’s something that comes from inside yourself. It’s an emotion that resides deep inside your soul. And it’s something that everyone already has, which makes it your choice as to whether or not you’re going to allow it to come out.
Of course, you could blame your feelings of unhappiness on your predicament, your family, or friends, but the reality is that you are the only one who can make yourself happy. Besides, there are plenty of people in worse positions than you or I who manage to be happy. If they can do it, then I believe that we can do it too! How?
In a blog by University of California, Berkeley, here are some effective happiness-inducing options to consider:
- Connect with others socially to create a wider network of people who can provide support when we need it.
- Regularly take the time to count your blessings, the things that you’re thankful for in your life.
- Be kind to others, a simple action that makes you feel better about yourself.
- Take care of your body by getting regular exercise and making sleep a priority as it’s hard to feel happy when you don’t feel well physically.
- Stay in the moment, leaving yesterday in the past and not worrying about tomorrow.
You’ll Never Get Where You Want to Be If You Don’t Put in the Work
I blame our society for this one as there are multiple news stories daily implying that someone reached their goals seemingly overnight—almost as if it was by luck. But anyone who’s ever tried to do something worth doing knows otherwise. Results almost always only come after months, if not years, of hard, brain and body-numbing work.
It’s understandable that we can easily get caught up in the “get rich fast” or “lose weight quick” schemes, but once we come to realize that there’s simply no substitute for hard work, we quit banging our heads against the wall when we realize that taking this approach doesn’t deliver long-term results. We can also finally stop blaming ourselves for failing personally when the real failure lies with the people and businesses pushing unachievable dreams.
This requires changing your mindset so that you’re in it for the long haul versus trying to take a shortcut. There is no shortcut for true success. In fact, say that to yourself right now. “There is no shortcut for true success.” Now, keep on saying it until your brain starts to believe it.
You can also put this phrase on a sticky note and place it on your computer where you will see it every day or write it on the outside of your journal. Put it somewhere where you will see it often so that you’re not sidelined by quick-fix promises from people that just want you to buy their products or services, promises that will be broken because they’re just not true.
If Someone Treats You Badly, It’s Because You Let Them
This has been one of the most difficult facts of life for me to accept as I always used to think that if someone treated me badly, it was on them not me. While there is some truth to that as everyone is responsible for his or her own actions, I had to force myself to realize that it was up to me to either let them continue to mistreat me or remove them from my life. I didn’t have to just sit and take it.
Granted, neither option is easy as it’s tough to be someone else’s whipping post but it’s also tough to let some people go. This is especially true if the person treating you badly is a parent, other relative, or spouse. It’s not always easy to just walk away when it is one of these people who are front and center in your life. But it is necessary if you want to have a better life.
Look at it this way: if you let someone continue to treat you badly, you’re destined to face a lifetime of disrespect. Yet, if you draw a line in the sand and say “No more!” then you may be uncomfortable initially, but you’re also stopping any further abuse, enabling you to enjoy higher quality days for the rest of your life.
To help you set these types of healthy boundaries, preventing or stopping others from mistreating you, Dr. Susan Biali with Psychology Today suggests that you first understand that the other person is likely to exhibit anger at your new, lower threshold. That’s a normal response, so don’t let it catch you off guard. Additionally, create a solid support system so that you have people that you can go to if you’re ready to give in and let the other person walk all over you again.
Of course, if the person who treats you badly is physically abusive, then contacting a domestic violence advocate or the police is a great first step too. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7, making them a great resource if this is the case.
Whether You Succeed or Fail Is Entirely Up To You
When I worked in the courts, one thing I saw over and over again is the lack of responsibility people tend to take nowadays when it comes to their own lives. Blame seemed to be placed on everyone else but themselves as it was rare to find someone who said, “Yes. The reason I am where I am is completely because of me and my actions.”
It’s the truth, though. It is 100 percent up to you whether you succeed or fail in your life. You’re the one who can take the actions that will lead you either way and to blame someone else for your failures is simply avoiding the fact that you made a wrong choice somewhere down the line.
Now, before you start throwing your “but what if” scenarios at me, I am more than willing to concede that certain people and circumstances can make it harder to succeed. If you have unsupportive parents, for instance, or have been diagnosed with a debilitating disease, then it may make it more difficult for you to reach the levels you want to reach. But it doesn’t make it impossible because, if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it.
One of my favorite sayings is that, in life, you have two choices: make changes or make excuses. Do the first and you’re destined for success, even if it doesn’t look like you initially thought. Do the second, on the other hand, and failure is the only outcome because you’re not going to even really try. You’ll have given up before you even started.
If You Want Life to Be Different, Then You Have to Do Different Things
This life fact is one that I see people struggle with over and over and over again, primarily when it comes to losing weight or getting into shape since I am in the health and wellness field. Most often, this involves trying a diet, losing a few pounds, and then, over time, gaining those pounds back…and then some. Then, when they’re feeling ready to lose weight again, they go back to that same diet. And they go back to those same results.
The reality is if you want life to be different for you than what it is now, then you have to do things differently. This requires trying new tactics until you find the one that works for you. Or, as Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, it is reminding yourself that “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
To put this into action, if you’re ready for different results than you’ve ever gotten before, then it’s time to go outside your comfort zone and do something new. In order to make the best of this suggestion, take some time to research your options so you’re making the most intelligent decision that you can for you personally. After all, blindly trying things and then being upset when they don’t work isn’t going to get you where you want to be.
Staying with the weight loss example, this would mean researching what programs are available, how they work, and how much they cost so you can determine whether they fit your personality and your lifestyle. By doing your homework upfront, you’re likely to get better results, which ultimately means different results than you’ve ever gotten before.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about these, as well as any others you think should be added to the list, so feel free to share them in the comment section below!