Is it important that we prioritize our happiness?
Seems like an easy enough question, right?
Being happy results in living a fuller, more rewarding life, every single day through the experience of satisfaction, enjoyment, and meaning.
Happiness makes us healthier, confident, and content.
And our energy attracts positive energy in return, whether that be in our relationships, our professional lives, or in opportunities that come our way.
Our happiness is expansive and contagious, flowing onto those around us.
So, I ask again, is it important to make our happiness the priority?
Logically, it’s easy to see that the answer is YES!
So then, why do we find it so difficult to prioritize our happiness?
10 Ways We Keep Ourselves from Experiencing Happiness
While happiness is different for every one of us, there are many common ways that we keep ourselves from experiencing happiness in our daily lives. Here are ten of those ways.
- We believe that our happiness should be secondary to the happiness of others. Many of us women were taught to believe that self-sacrifice is a virtue, and we were conditioned to place others’ needs ahead of our own; to work to please everyone else first, rather than pleasing ourselves. In learning to value ourselves less than others, we struggle to prioritize our happiness as we wish to avoid those (misguided) programmed feelings of selfishness and guilt.
- We rely on others to make us happy. Instead of being responsible for our own happiness, we place that burden on those around us. They have to tend to their own happiness (no small task!) and our neediness can make them resent us. Unsurprisingly, the pressure we put on them to make us happy usually results in them disappointing us – and can cause the collapse of the relationship.
- We believe that the achievement of a specific goal will make us happy. We believe that happiness is somewhere out there and will arrive when we lose 20 pounds or get a promotion or get married. What if these things don’t happen or what if they don’t deliver the happiness we thought they would bring? Do we then accept a life of constant striving and unhappiness? This “What next?” mindset keeps us living in the future instead of enjoying the present.
- We suffer from “Nice Girl” Syndrome. We allow others to cross our boundaries, and maybe even walk all over us – but we choose not to confront and challenge them because we don’t want to be “mean” or to upset or offend them. In our attempts to be nice to other people, we can abandon ourselves, which can cause more harm to ourselves than we realize. We suppress our own needs and wants as a lower priority than what someone else wants or needs, or what we think they need.
- We are too afraid to say how we feel and ask for what we want. It is challenging to speak our minds because of the risk of confrontation or rejection. Because we want to be liked and accepted, we may avoid sharing our thoughts, feelings, and needs. When we fear the potential repercussions of being true to ourselves, we miss out on opportunities to live authentically and connect with others on a deeper level.
- We forgo self-care out of guilt of placing our needs first. We know when we need a break and when we need some emotional and physical distance from others. Self-care protects our well-being. Yet we ignore what our mind and body are telling us. But maybe we don’t take that walk or make time to see a friend – things that will fill our Power Container – because we believe it is selfish to put our needs first. We don’t plan time every day for activities that benefit our wellness out of feelings of guilt.
- We compare ourselves to others. While comparing is normal, we can damage our self-esteem if we gauge our value or worthiness by comparing ourselves to those who appear to have more of what we seek, whether that is attractiveness, money, success, friends, love, and fun. We see others’ public personas, their observable best, and not what is always the truth or reality. Social media can amplify negative feelings we have about ourselves.
- We don’t know what makes us happy. Maybe we once knew this, but we have lost touch with ourselves through the burdens of daily life. Or we have wrapped ourselves entirely in the needs of our partner or children or friends to the point that we have either forgotten or haven’t allowed ourselves to try the things we want.
- We stay in toxic relationships out of shared history, obligation, and what others may think. Being around people who bring us down immerses us in negativity. This could be a relationship with a romantic partner who looks good on paper (and who others think is an excellent match for us) but who leaves us feeling bad more than we feel good. Or it could be a friend who complains incessantly without wanting solutions, who draws us into their world of negativity. Our trajectory in life can be deeply impacted by the people we have around us, so we must choose our inner circle wisely.
- We overextend ourselves. We are too busy, and maybe we are giving too much of ourselves away. We say yes when we want to no to invitations, activities, and favors that drain us. We take on projects out of obligation instead of those aligned with our interests, strengths, and values. We don’t live within our means financially, creating unnecessary worry. We don’t make time to prepare healthy meals, exercise, and pursue our educational and creative interests because we have not made them a priority.
In this post, I focused on some of the many ways we prevent ourselves from being happy to help you be aware of these pitfalls. I explore ways to be happier (as well as more peaceful and more successful personally and professionally) in my book, “I Love Me More: How to Find Happiness and Success Through Self-Love” with lessons, stories, and tips I have learned in building my practice of self-love and self-care.