We all want happiness, but don't know how to go about it.
You know the story: people on their deathbed regret what they didn't do more than what they did. (After all, the doing's the fun part, isn't it?)
But here's the thing: happy people don't do certain things. They don't fall victim to mistakes that unhappy people make. They don't get involved in other people's drama (nor do they create their own). They don't create toxic relationships that drain their will to live.
Studies show that you can boost your happiness by focusing on what really matters to you, and ruthlessly ignoring everything else.
You see, being happy is just a matter of letting go of bad habits and thought patterns that are weighing us down. Here are 10 things happy people never do.
1. Worry about what other people think of them.
If you are always seeking validation from others around you, you will always be less than satisfied. While it is great to be validated by others and also great to validate other people, ultimately we can only find true satisfaction and approval within. When you free yourself from other peoples' expectations, you are finally able to be true to yourself.
It also pays off to remember that the people who truly love you will accept you as you really are. Those are your real friends and family. It is never worth it to pour energy and love into someone who cannot love you back. And remember, until you can validate and accept yourself, you can never truly love yourself, either.
2. Live in the past.
While there is nothing wrong with turning back the pages of memory, there is no such thing as turning back the pages of time. It is a good thing to reflect on the good times you have had, and even now and again to linger on your losses and regrets.
We map our way through the future using our experiences, after all. But you cannot live in the past or resurrect it. Happy people never try. They live in the now. When the now is unwelcoming, they thrive on hope for the future rather than clinging to memories of what is past.
3. Focus on negatives in other people.
Nobody comes in a perfect package, and to make things even more complicated, oftentimes our strengths are the flipside of our flaws. That means that you have to be willing to take the good and the bad in even the best people. Happy people focus on other peoples' strengths, not their weaknesses.
4. Get into other people's business.
Are you constantly focusing on what other people are doing? Do you watch your neighbors through your windows, spy on your ex online, or worry about what your business competitors are doing?
If so, you probably are way too wrapped up in other people's lives. When you are this focused on others, you can fill your life with toxic drama and negativity that does not even concern you. When you focus on your own life instead, you can lead a more positive existence.
5. Compare their lives to others.
This is tied to paying too much attention to other peoples' business. When you are constantly comparing your life, achievements, relationships, and possessions to what other people have, the grass will always seem greener across the fence.
Remember you never have a full picture of what it is like to be someone else. Odds are, no matter what wonderful thing someone else has that you lack, there is something amazing you have that they would give their right hand for. Focus on being grateful for the wonderful gifts in your own life instead of running constant comparisons.
6. Blame themselves unfairly for their failures.
One of the hardest things about growing up is realizing that you are not going to live the life you dreamed of when you were a child. When we are young, we are taught you can do or be anything, but after you graduate into the real world, you quickly find out that you are more likely to be buried under a mess of bills than you are to fly to the moon.
Happy people learn to accept a change in perspective and accept that we cannot do everything we dream of. We are limited by the time and place we are born into. While there is a great deal we can change, some things we cannot.
If you believe you alone are responsible for your circumstances, you will blame yourself for the rest of your life for not achieving the unachievable. That is a recipe for unhappiness. Look for ways to honor your dreams, but accept that you do not control everything that happens to you, and it is not always your fault when you fail.
7. Hold grudges.
You do not have to forget the evil things that have been done to you, nor do you have to ever accept the cruel actions or inactions of others. But you can give yourself permission to let go of the pain, anger, and resentment you carry with you.
A grudge is like a heavy stone, forever weighing you down, until you release it. Happy people learn to forgive for their own sakes. They move on emotionally so they can have a new chance at happiness.
8. Stay in toxic situations.
Commitment is a great thing, but not when it comes at the expense of your happiness, integrity, and well-being. Happy people never stay in situations they know are going to stay toxic.
They get out of bad apartments, bad neighborhood, bad relationships, and bad companies, even if that means taking a risk or breaking an agreement. They know that not all forms of self-sacrifice are noble. Some are simply self-destructive.
9. Blame themselves for the past.
One of the dangers of living in the past is not just clinging to old happy memories in lieu of creating new ones, but also wallowing in the bad ones. Happy people do not lie awake night after night running through the gamut of their past crimes.
They do acknowledge the mistakes they made, the betrayals they committed, and take responsibility to change in the present. But they do not hate themselves for things they did in the past. Instead, they acknowledge that the person they are now is not the person they were then. They love that the person they are now would never do those awful things again to anyone else.
10. Lie to themselves.
Perhaps the number one thing that happy people never do is lie to themselves. They accept that some truths are hard to face, and that living a true life may require some degree of pain, sadness, anger, loss, and fear.
But they also realize that the only real chance any of us have at happiness is to embrace the full range of human experience. The really amazing things are worth the pain and the struggle. Happiness is not the same thing as ease or comfort.
Truly happy people realize this and refuse to live a lie, no matter how sorely they are tempted. They know that making the hard choice to be true to themselves is worth it. It is the only way to find true friends and family who love them for who they really are, and to lead a life that is rich with meaning.
Adam Costa is the co-founder of KeepInspiring.me, which features The Ultimate List of Inspirational Quotes, and 10xToday, which offers free personal development training. He is also the author of 10x Life: A breakthrough system to improve focus, develop productive habits, and maximize willpower-in 5 minutes a day.
This article was originally published at keepinspiring.me. Reprinted with permission from the author.