The purpose of life is the pursuit of happiness. But you sometimes lose your way and end up going in the wrong direction. When that happens, how do you change your life to make it better?
Happiness is an inside job. Before you change anything else in your life, have a look at yourself. If you don’t change who you are, any external changes you make will feel nice temporarily, but then you’ll go back to feeling the way you did before.
Here are the five points that will help you change your life:
- Get ready for change.
- Identify what you need to change.
- Let go of old habits to make room for change.
- Learn new coping skills.
- Incorporate the changes into your life.
Get ready for change
Don’t be afraid to look at yourself. You may be worried that you will find something you don’t like. Everyone has a few dark corners in their character. That’s normal, and shouldn’t be an obstacle to change.
Start with your easiest issues and you will gradually make changes in the rest. Everything is connected. Look at your deepest issues only when you are ready.
Take small steps. Don’t take an all-or-nothing approach to change and sabotage yourself before you start. Decide ahead of time to make small changes, and you will make progress.
When you take an all-or-nothing approach, you don’t have the energy to make big changes, and you don’t see the significance of small changes, so you will feel stuck. There are only a few things you probably need to change in order to make a big improvement in your life.
Identify what you need to change
Stress and negative thinking are the most common things people need to change. Examples of stress include fears, resentments, dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future. Examples of negative thinking include all-or-nothing thinking and disqualifying the positives.
Do you think that things have to be perfect, and anything less is a failure? Do you focus on the few negatives in your life and ignore the many positives? These factors lead to most unhappiness. In severe cases they can lead to anxiety, depression, and addiction.
How all-or-nothing thinking leads to problems: “I have to do things perfectly because anything less is a failure.” This is the most common type of negative thinking, and the main cause of anxiety, depression, and addiction.
All-or-nothing thinking leads to anxiety because you’re worried that any mistake can expose you to criticism. You’re always second-guessing yourself, and you don’t give yourself permission to let your guard down.
It can lead to depression because when you think you have to be perfect, you feel trapped by your own high standards. That can be so exhausting that it depletes your mental and emotional resources leading to depression. All-or-nothing thinking can also lead to addiction because anxiety or depression feels so uncomfortable that you may turn to drugs or alcohol to escape.
Make room for change
The most overlooked part of change is making room for change. This is the missing piece in most self-help plans, and the reason why most people fail. They focus on why they are unhappy, thinking that alone will lead to change. They spend most of their effort trying to understand their issues. But this is just one part of change.
You also have to let go of old habits so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Have you ever asked yourself, “How could I be so smart but do such dumb things?” That’s what happens when you try to change without making room for change.
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