Newsflash: All the best happiness tips in the world are worth nothing if you simply will not allow yourself to be happy.
It’s strange that so many people put themselves and their own happiness second. Sure, you’ve got family to look after and you do an amazing job at that. And you’ve got work to take care of, I get that. But amongst all that work and caring you do, you’ve got to know how to let yourself be happy in life. And you have to know how to put yourself first sometimes.
The weird thing is you actively stop yourself from being happy. Millions… no… billions of people do the same thing. It’s as though we’re all afraid of being happy, afraid of having a bounce in our step and a smile on our face. We think we do not deserve to be happy. For some bizarre reason, instead of embracing all the wonderful things that make us happy, all those things we have to be thankful for, we actively try to prevent ourselves from being happy.
Let me give you a few examples.
For starters there’s that new hobby that you found. You remember. You started something new last month and let yourself do it a couple times. You loved it. It made you happy. Then you dropped it. You said you didn’t have the time to do it.
And then there’s your weight loss.
Do you remember how happy you were when you lost those pounds? You stood on the scales and grinned like a little kid who’d just gotten an A* in math. But then you suddenly decided that it wasn’t good enough. It was almost as though you intentionally stopped yourself from being happy. And then instead of being happy you started to actually feel depressed after losing weight.
And then there’s that group of friends you really get along with. Whenever you’re with them you have a blast. But when was the last time you saw them…?
Let’s be honest with each other. You could be a lot happier than you are. You actually know how to let yourself be happy in life already. But you actively prevent yourself from being happy. Why?
In her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing (powerful title, isn’t it?) Bronnie Ware reported that one of the most common regrets people have when they’re lying on their death beds is that they never let themselves be happy. They never just let go and allowed themselves to enjoy life. They spent their lives taking control, trying too hard to be a success, even though, in my opinion, happiness is the very measure of a successful life. I mean really, what’s the point in all of this if you are not happy?
Can you imagine how different you’d feel if you simply let go and embraced all those things that make you feel happy?
We’re all so self denying. When we think of doing something that makes us happy we think it’s selfish. It’s as though we have an innate need to be masochistic, to punish ourselves. We set goals for ourselves but we don’t do them instead we do what we think other people want us to do.
Let’s think about that for one second.
Everyone that matters to us, everyone that cares about us, wants us to be happy. So the idea that we’re doing “what other people want” is just total unmitigated rubbish.
The mind is like the “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. You’d need a master’s degree in psychology to fully appreciate that complex mind of yours, and to understand why you shy away from personal happiness. But thankfully we’ve spoken to some people who actually do have masters degrees, and we’ve come up with a list of the top 5 reasons why people stop themselves from being happy.
Here are five of the best ways how to let yourself be happy, all of which basically involve getting out your own way.
Problem 1. You cling to negativity because it feels like a safety blanket.
Weirdly, it can be a lot easier to be negative than to be positive. You might be worried that if you find happiness you’ll just lose it. That’s similar to being afraid of falling in love. You don’t want true love because true love can be lost, and losing true love leads to pain. Losing happiness leads to pain too. But that’s life, isn’t it? And besides, it’s completely insane to force yourself to be unhappy because you’re worried about losing happiness… that’s just… weird.
So, how to let yourself be happy in life # 1. Overcome fear of happiness by practicing this gentle visualisation technique.
Close your eyes for five minutes and focus on your breathing. Now imagine yourself being extremely happy. If you are afraid of happiness you’ll notice there’s a pang of anxiety, maybe in your chest, a sensation, perhaps a tightness. Meditate on this. Imagine breathing air into this space. See that space relaxing. Let go of the anxiety. Continue until you are able to visualise yourself happy without the accompanying anxiety.
Problem 2. Your inner voice will steal your happiness like a squirrel steals nuts. Don’t let it.
Your inner voice is built on old attitudes that you’ve been exposed to throughout your lifetime. Often those attitudes don’t stem from you yourself. If your parents were happy, positive, optimistic people then you will have adopted those same attitudes. But obviously not everyone was so fortunate.
How to let yourself be happy in life # 2. Show your inner voice who’s boss. You can change your inner voice and you can change your mental habits. One way is to get involved with as many sources of positivity as possible. Take our Facebook Page, for instance. That place is like a reservoir of positive vibes. Join it. Friends are awesome too, provided they’re of the bouncy and happy variety and not the brooding and miserable sort.
Problem 3. You’re closing the door to happiness
Sometimes life kicks your ass. There’s no avoiding that. And the more shots you take the more tightly you hold onto your armour. You let love in once and it got you burned so you’ve closed that door. But you’re only closing the door to happiness by not letting people into your life. You dared to dream about starting your own business, making money online, and travelling the world as a self-made millionaire with tons of money invested in stocks. You dreamed. But it never happened. Instead you ended up burnt. So you closed the door on your dreams.
How to let yourself be happy in life # 3. Let the good times in, but keep a sense of perspective.
There’s a fine-line between allowing yourself to be happy and letting yourself get carried away. The trick, in my experience, is to maintain a sense of perspective. Let yourself dream, but don’t get carried away with your dreams, keep them in check. I invested years of my life to making my dreams come true. I wanted to be a bestselling author. I threw everything at it. And I ended up losing, financially and in terms of time.
Don’t get me wrong I love the fact that I’ve dedicated my life to something that truly matters to me, but there definitely is a risk involved. I know now that it’s far smarter to dedicate a portion of your effort to dreams and another portion to reality. Had I kept up with my career instead of literally throwing all of my chips into one pot, my life would have been a hell of a lot easier. But at the same time, had I not let myself dream at all I wouldn’t be anywhere near as happy as I am. As with all things I guess it’s a matter of balance.
Problem 4. When you go for what you want anxiety sets in
When you go for what you want you often feel anxious about it. Your inner voice rises, telling you that you’ll never get what you want and that you’re stupid for even trying. Giving up can actually cure your anxiety, making it an all too easy option to just jack it all in and continue with the unhappy life.
How to let yourself be happy in life # 4. Face the fear and do it anyway
One of the best ways how to let yourself be happy in life is to recognise that anxiety is just a natural byproduct of being alive. Anxiety is just a part of life. Inevitably when you try something new you’re going to feel a degree of anxiety. But feeling the anxiety isn’t what matters. What matters is how you react to that anxiety. When I was a teenager I suffered from chronic anxiety, mostly social anxiety. It stopped me from talking to anyone. Then the day came when I realised that anxiety would kill me if I let it. To overcome my anxiety I decided to do the thing I feared more than anything in the world: performing in front of people. So I joined the school choir and sang a solo in front of the whole school. I was terrified. But I went head and performed my little song and you know what? I loved it. And those five minutes in which I faced my fear changed my entire life. Literally. I performed again, and then again, and then became an actor and toured the UK on stage. Five minutes of facing your fear can change your life.
Problem 5. It’s ridiculous, but you feel guilty when you focus on your own happiness
Choosing to focus on your own happiness makes you feel guilty. That’s stupid. But many (if not most) of us simply feel uncomfortable and valuing our own happiness.
How to let yourself be happy in life # 5. Realise the truth: That your happiness is immensely important and you deserve to be happy, now and always.
You deserve happiness. We all do. But while you’d have no problem putting in serious effort to make a friend or family member happy, you struggle to do the same for yourself. One great way to solve this little conundrum is to practice the wonderful meditation technique Loving Kindness Meditation.
You might feel guilty about it, but you are the centre of your own life. Your happiness should be one of your top priorities. Take my advice. Do something special for yourself today. Visit a spa. Book a trip. Or just have some chocolate. You deserve happiness. Enjoy life.