When we were young life was easier, right? I know sometimes it seems that way. But the truth is life is still easy. It always will be. Over the course of time, we made our lives harder and harder, and we started losing touch with who we really are and what we really need.
If you can relate to this, here are some ways you’re likely making your life harder than it has to be, and some ideas on simplifying things:
- You keep thinking about worst-case scenarios .
I have a bad habit of fast forwarding everything to its worst possible outcome and being pleasantly surprised when the result is marginally better than the utter disaster I imagined. My mind unnecessarily wrestles with events that aren’t even remotely likely. My sore throat is probably cancer. My lost ATM card fell into the hands of a Boko Haram terrorist who will wipe out my savings account.
Negativity like this only breeds more negativity. It robs you of happiness. It will carry you away from shore, and if you don’t swim away it will pull you under. The bottom line is that you can see the world through a lens of doubt and despair or hope and excitement. It’s your choice. Either way, you will someday arrive at the same destination. The only question is: Do you want to arrive with a frown or a smile?
- You constantly compare your life to others.
You were invited to a nice party somewhere. You are enjoying the smooth jazz, wine and party jollof rice. What more could you want? As the party goes on you notice a group of guys and girls with expensive outfits enjoying themselves on another table across the party hall. Suddenly you begin to feel that you don’t measure up to the guys/girls on the other table – people you didn’t even know existed until just a few minutes ago.
Those people are having more fun. Mary has a bigger house. John gets all the lucky breaks. Tunde has more money. Ada is better looking.
If you compete with everyone else, you will become bitter. If you compete with a previous version of yourself, you will become better. It’s as simple as that.
- You avoid facing the truth.
The truth does not cease to exist when it is ignored. You cannot find peace by avoiding things. You have to feel it to heal it. Bring your fears and weaknesses front and center and shine a blazing spotlight on them. Because the only way out is through. The pain of facing the truth is SO worth it in the long run.
- You believe that everyone is out to get you .
Someone in your office does something nice for you and automatically you begin to wonder what they want. Another driver cut you off in traffic. Your friend never texted you back. Your colleague went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a daily basis. So what caused you to be offended? You assigned negative intent to these otherwise innocent actions. You took it as a personal insult – a slap in the face. Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t take things personally.
Don’t assign negative intent to the unintentional actions of others. Let today be the day you look for the good in everyone you meet.
- You see a future full of pitfalls.
You finally have a dinner date with a person you really like. Instead of thinking how great this is and how much you are going to enjoy the evening, you focus on the ways that this evening is going to be a disaster. Or you finally get to take a bold step to do what you love and instead of seeing it working out well, you focus on how it is going to fail.
You are always so focused on all the negative things that might happen that you fail to see the benefits and opportunities before you. You could be missing something great!
- You are the sun and the world rotates around you.
When planning an outing do you insist that everyone follow your plan? When you are having a bad day do you make sure all your friends and family know about it? These behaviors could be seriously making life more difficult for you. By making things less about you and more about others would make for smoother relationships and less tension.
- You focus on popularity over effectiveness.
Seek respect, not attention. It lasts longer and it’s far more useful in the end. Do things and build things that make a lasting difference. And above all, never confuse popularity with effectiveness. Being popular means you’re liked for a while. Being effective means you’ve made a difference
- You are stuck on your mistakes.
It’s important that we forgive ourselves for making mistakes. We need to learn from our errors and move forward. Make a pact with yourself today not to be defined by your past. Sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your hard work isn’t what you get for it, but what you learn from it. A happy, successful life, after all, is not a life absent of problems, but one that’s been able to rise above them.
- You have an “all or nothing” mentality.
There’s no such thing as perfect success, just as there’s no such thing as perfect failure. This is why labeling things in extremes – all or nothing – success or failure – is an exercise in futility.
What does exist, however, is a continuous series of imperfect moments filled with infinite possibilities and opportunities. Appreciate the grey area between the extremes – the journey – the experiences. And above all, never let success get to your head or failure get to your heart.
- You can’t let go.
She embarrassed you in front of your colleagues and you are never going to forgive her. Sound familiar?
Learn to let go of the wrong things people have done to you. Most times the other person is out there enjoying her life while you keep on carrying the burden of hurt on your heart.
Another scenario is this: you know you are right about how something should be done and nothing is going to change your mind. Has this attitude ever embarrassed you when it turns out that you were wrong in the end?
Learn to let go. It makes life easier.
These and many more are the ways we unknowingly make life hard for ourselves.
I believe this post has been of help to you. I have decided to work on areas in this post that concerns me and I encourage you to do the same this year.