5 Common Habits That Are Undermining Your Happiness

Here are five common habits that I see people partaking in that are ultimately hindering their ability to be truly happy.
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Business team working together, enjoying work symbolized with smiley face icons. Teamwork.
Business team working together, enjoying work symbolized with smiley face icons. Teamwork.

We all have a desire to be happy. It is a part of the human condition to seek joy and good feelings. Yet many of us unintentionally undermine our happiness every day.

Being a Life and Executive Coach, I see common patterns in people's daily behavior that are keeping them from lasting happiness. Too often our desire to feel good in the moment overrides our deeper wisdom on what it takes to be truly happy.

We all have the ability to modify our behavior and make choices that will be better for our long-term happiness, once we are aware of how we are sabotaging ourselves.

Here are five common habits that I see people partaking in that are ultimately hindering their ability to be truly happy.

1. Staying up late to watch one last episode
It is easy to get sucked into another episode of your favorite show or to find yourself mindlessly watching TV one program after another as you get into the later hours of the night. Yet this time could be better spent getting the much needed sleep that too many of us have forgotten we so desperately need. Research findings now clearly support the fact that by far the majority of people require 8 hours of sleep each night in order to function adequately. Set yourself a regular bed-time and begin seeing sleep as an absolute priority.

2. Mindlessly scrolling through Social Media
Social media is the greatest time-sucker of the modern generation. You may jump on to have a glance and before you know it you've spent half an hour thoughtlessly scrolling through peoples pictures and updates. It is incredibly easy to get into a habit of using social media as a distraction for you mind, but it is a mindless not mindful activity. What is better for your happiness is to take mindful breaks. Instead of using social media to fill in your downtime, you could be more aware and take a five minute walk with no distractions or pick up an old-fashioned book and read material you are genuinely interested in.

3. Winding down with a glass of wine most nights

Modern life is chaotic, busy and stressful and far too many of us live on the borderline of burning out. We are naturally designed to look for methods to alleviate undesirable feelings, but when we do this unconsciously we often rely on short-term solutions that are in fact detrimental to our long-term well-being. One of the most common unhealthy short-term coping methods is drinking alcohol to help us relax and unwind. Although it may make you feel better in the immediate moment, alcohol impacts on the quality of our sleep and stops us from getting into the most restorative sleep phases. Alcohol is also a mood depressant and after the short-term high we inevitably are left feeling lower than we otherwise would have the next day. Be conscious of your behavior and look for healthier ways to manage your stress such as partaking in self-care, exercise or meditation.

4. Putting off catching up with good friends
In the midst of our busyness, we are prone to feeling like making time for our friends is a luxury, not a necessity. It becomes something that is easily postponed or we simply don't organize. But friendships and genuine human connection matter. Research now clearly supports the power of strong social connections in keeping us healthy and happy. The caveat here is that we need 'genuine' human connection. A friendship that you partake in out of obligation, that you find draining or hard work, is not going to boost your happiness. Don't feel guilty making time for your good friends. It is an investment in your well-being bank account.

5. Living completely in our day-to-day routine

Modern day self-help literature frequently reminds us that our lives are only happening in the 'now'. This is absolutely true; but don't take this thought to mean that we shouldn't plan ahead. We can easily become so focused on the day-to-day living of our lives that we forget to dream and wonder. We feel most alive when we step outside of our comfort zones and do new things. To make sure you don't get stuck in a rut, and live the same life day-in-day-out like groundhog-day for years, you have to give yourself some time to dream and set goals. Don't forget to reflect on the life you are living to ensure you are heading in the direction you want to. Frequently make time for the stuff that makes your heart sing and you'll feel happier in the longer-term.

A copy of this blog was originally posted on Thrive.How - www.thrive.how/self-help-blog

Kate is a Life & Executive Coach at www.thrive.how. She helps people who want the good stuff out of life, get it. Through her individual coaching programs, she helps people clarify their thinking, grow into their potential and re-gain balance. You can learn more about Kate by following her on Facebook or Instagram, or sign up to get a copy of her free guide with 8 Tips on How to Thrive in Life.