We may all be in search for some kind of happiness, whether short-term or long-term, but often, experts say we easily sabotage our own path of getting there.
Paul Krismer, founder of the Happiness Experts Company, told Global News there are various sources of unhappiness in people’s lives, from being in a bad relationship to being stuck at a job you don’t love.
“Regardless of what the source is, the most common is not prioritizing our well-being,” he said. “People say they are too busy or not worth it or don’t deserve to be happy. These are self-defeating thoughts.”
Below, Krismer goes through five common ways people sabotage their own happiness, as well as solutions to these problems.
“As soon as we make an effort, it’s like we have a giant task to do,” he continued. “You just have to take small steps.”
READ MORE: 6 secrets of living a fuller, happier life
Living with worries and regret
“I would say the first and most prevalent way is worry and regret,” he said. “These aren’t easy to fix because it’s wired deeply in our brains, but anytime we are not in the present moment, there is a pretty good chance we’re not in a good place.”
He adds often people worry about their futures or live in the past with regrets, which stops them from being happy in the present.
“Sometimes you think about fun occasions, but other times, we look at past mistakes and regrets.” To overcome these thoughts takes time, he adds, and being more mindful in the present moment is one way to start. He recommends meditation or speaking with an expert.
Being afraid to fail
Failure doesn’t mean unhappiness. Krismer said some of us are wired to think things are going to get bad and often have an emotional response to minor failures.
While something may seem like a failure at the moment, it should be taken as a learning process for happiness down the road. “If you have the tendency to be negative in certain areas in your life, like relationships, think about what goes well and what you are doing right… observe more positive thoughts.”
Our standards of happiness are too high
What does happiness actually look like? A nice car? A dream house? A job that pays well? Or the health and happiness of friends and family? Happiness is individual, but Krismer said often, people have a standard for happiness that is not attainable.
“People go on social media and they see snapshots of everyone in happy moments and the media often tells us happiness has a certain look and feel. Ear-to-ear grinning and skipping through meadows… this isn’t always happiness.”
He said to move on from this obstacle, think about what truly makes you happy. Happiness, he adds, often means serenity, hope or pride.
We don’t put ourselves first
Sometimes, we worry so much about other people’s happiness, we forget about our own. “It’s common for parents to be busy serving other people,” he added. “In Western and other Eastern cultures, there is an emphasis on the nurturing role, especially for women.”
He adds many women, in particular, take care of many aspects of the household: their kids, their partners, their parents, their in-laws and beyond the house, their co-workers.
“There is often very little priority in their own nurturing. If you don’t love yourself, the capacity to love others is limited.”
Don’t forget others
On the flip side to the last point, making others happy is just as important as making yourself happy, Krismer said.
He notes some research has shown when people spend money on others, they often feel better than spending that money on themselves. While science may back up the idea that giving is often a good way to make yourself feel happy, he adds, it can also be trickled down to the day-to-day.
“If we do something for others and they can’t pay us back or they don’t know we did it, we can easily get happier.”