While neither universal nor all-encompassing, the joy-stealing attitudes and corresponding cures listed below are common enough to warrant a thumbtack on the wall of many lives, including my own.
1. Jealousy: Destroy the green monster by celebrating the successes of others. If your friend succeeds, celebrate his victory as your own; if your enemy succeeds, remind yourself that jealousy is self-defeating, pointless, and merely extends an enemy’s power over you.
2. Persecution Complex: Recognize that persecution is irrelevant, since you (and only you) control the outcome of your life. Every person has a stack of obstacles placed before him; success hinges upon your ability to overcome the obstacles in your path, persecution or no.
3. Lack of Accountability: We may not control every bad thing that happens to us, but we do control how we react to those bad things. Instead of passing the buck, take responsibility for every failure so you can learn and grow.
4. Perfectionism: Stop nit picking. Perfection is rarely attainable and seldom necessary. You’re a person, not a robot. Use the 80/20 Rule whenever appropriate.
5. Excessive Reasoning: Man is blessed with a marvelous and astounding ability to reason. At its best, this ability facilitates accomplishment; at its worst, it causes spirals of perfectionism, over-thinking, and paralysis by analysis. If it’s clear you’re in a situation that cannot be improved through logic and reason, learn to let go.
6. Negativism: Remind yourself that there are just as many positive forces in the world as negative ones; your fixation on the negative is a matter of perspective and choice.
7. Assuming the Worst of Others: There is a fine line between guarding against a realistic threat and being needlessly defensive. Make sure you haven’t crossed that line. Whenever possible, give people the benefit of the doubt.
8. Low Self-Esteem: Raise your self-esteem by recognizing your accomplishments and positive qualities; further boost it by correcting the problem areas that drag you down.
9. Low Self-Efficacy: Self-efficacy is defined as faith in your ability to achieve a desired outcome. To overcome low self-efficacy, master the skills required to reach your objective. Practice, practice, practice.
10. Feelings of Meaninglessness: Inject meaning into your life by learning to follow your passion: that internal compass, guiding you toward fulfillment. Read my synergy series of articles for more information; if you disagree with my approach for discovering purpose, pioneer your own.
Unhappiness is both self-defined and self-imposed (meaning a person who believes himself happy is), so if you’re capable of controlling your mental state without examining its constituent elements, I stand in awe of your mental abilities and politely leave you to your devices.
On the other hand, if you’re like most people I’ve known (myself included) and occasionally feel unhappy for reasons that cannot be swept under the rug, review this list of 10 self-destructive attitudes and corresponding cures.
By understanding the source of your unhappiness, you can take the steps required to climb out of the hole of despair and into the sunlight of happiness.