Lets face it, it would seem that a large amount of people are not satisfied with their life. All around the world depression is on the rise, year after year. Anxiety is rife, and if you ask anybody about their outlook and certainty for the future, the response is often very bleak. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, short or tall, black or white, fat or thin. If you are experiencing unhappiness, you are most likely doing one, or all, of three things.
In my coaching career I have come to notice a pattern that people share when it comes to the lack of happiness or positivity that they are experiencing in their life. It comes down to three simple factors that are so very simple, yet have an incredibly profound effect on every aspect of a persons life, and how they perceive things to be. I call these factors the ‘Three C's to a miserable life’. All that is needed, is for a person to avoid partaking in these actions and things will begin turn around for the better.
For nearly all of my clients this has been a huge revelation for them, and a point in which they have been able to make significant shifts in attitude and outlook, resulting in a real sense of happiness.
So what are the three C's that you should avoid to ensure a happy life?
They are…Comparing. Criticising. Complaining.
Take a look at these human traits, and ask yourself how present they are in your day to day living. It may be hard to believe that these very common thoughts and actions could cause as much trouble in your life as I am stating, so I will break down these three poisonous pills, to give you a better understanding of the impact they can have on your mental wellbeing.
Almost the worst of the lot. This is the proverbial "Keeping up with the Joneses" syndrome. If you allow yourself the punishment of being dissatisfied because somebody else has something that you don't, then prepare yourself to be unhappy. Comparison, will always distract you from your true purpose. Which is, to live YOUR life.
We are all meant to have what we are meant to have relative to what we want, and do with our lives. You're lack is not due to somebody else's hard work or good fortune, but is often a direct result of taking too much notice of other peoples lives at the neglect of your own. Its kind of like staring at another car in envy, while it would be far safer and more beneficial for you to be paying attention to driving the one that you are in. Before you know it, you're in an accident, and you've caused damage to the one you've got.
Comparing only ever devalues what you already have, and who you are. It can easily turn something into a problem that was completely okay with you until it was sized up with something else.
Comparison is the root of dissatisfaction, and if you can't be satisfied, you can't be happy.
The remedy, GRATITUDE. Be grateful for what you have and who you are. Be truly grateful. Meditate on those things, and ponder how you can feed and nurture them to grow and expand. You can only work with what you've got, not with what others have.
At all cost, avoid comparing in your relationships, especially those of an intimate nature. Don't give to get, in a relationship. Give because its simply what you want to do. If you find yourself saying something like “I’ve done this for you, and I gave you that, but you never give to me or do for me…” You are essentially turning a good and kind ACT into a transACTion, and all the value and worth is lost. This too, will send you down the slippery slope of the second C.
The killer of momentum and happiness.
It is impossible to be positive and negative at the same time. Just as it is impossible to be happy and sad at the same time. This is the problem with complaining. It keeps you focused on an issue or problem, and in turn makes it very difficult to cultivate a mind set that is solution based.
This is the thing, complaining can easily become a habit. You may even know of somebody that is in the habitual cycle of complaining about everything all of the time. Here is the reason why. It takes a lot of work to create a habit, and just as much, if not more effort to break a habit. Not only that, but most habits are addictive in nature. So, as strange as it may seem, some people actually find pleasure and comfort in their complaining. The sad thing is that they often won't realise that it is the root cause of their deep dissatisfaction and unhappiness in their life. It is incredibly hard to see the silver lining in a less than favourable situation, when all you are focused on is what is wrong with it, opposed to what could be right about it.
So, next time you find yourself tempted to have a moan about something, instead of complaining, try, explaining. Just say it, and see it for what it is. Neither good or bad, but just an event. This will help you to process what has happened, and actually allow you the chance to come to terms with it. When you enter into a dialogue with yourself about a situation, you shift your mindset to solution based, and away from disillusioned based thinking.
Think of it this way. If you became stuck in the mud, no amount of complaining is ever going to get you out. But if you simply state the obvious to yourself, “Okay, I’m stuck in the mud”. You then open the way to ask the most important question, “What am I going to do about it”? Once you solve the problem, (and you will as long as you keep asking questions) you will be rewarded with a nice wee hit of the neurochemical dopamine, resulting in a side effect of happiness.
This would have to be the most insidious of the Three C’s of misery. The reason is, that for some people they think that they are actually being helpful when they criticise. But, there is a clear difference between criticising, and giving sound advice or genuine inquiry.
When somebody criticises another person they tend to be doing one of two things. Either they are trying to hold them self above the other person by becoming the authority or one that knows best. Or, they are attempting to bring that person down and disempower them, by becoming the rectifier of all that is wrong.
It is important to see criticism for what it really is. A form of violence. It only ever tears down, and completely lacks creativity. That's why I don't believe in the folly of “constructive criticism”. I far more prefer the age old adage “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all”!
The interesting thing about criticism, is that it exposes more about the person that is doing the criticising than it ever does about the person being criticised. Basically it is a display of the dissatisfaction that is already within a person. And, if you are not satisfied, it is very difficult to be happy.
The late Wayne Dyer had a great analogy. “If you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice”. Not apple juice, or cranberry juice, or coconut water. You get what is inside an orange.
When somebody feels the need to criticise, they have basically been squeezed, because something is coming out of them. If what comes out is hurtful, it is because they are full of hurt. If what comes out is encouraging, it is because they are courageous. This is the very thing that can tame the critical mind, COURAGE!
Courage means, of the heart. Encourage, means to put courage into. So, instead of criticising somebody, next time speak to that person from your heart. This will build them up and strengthen them to become a better person, as well as give them the chance to see the error of their ways in their own time. The great thing is, that you too benefit from this practice. In speaking from your heart you in turn build courage within yourself, and with courage comes strength. With strength comes confidence. With confidence comes self esteem. And, with self esteem comes happiness.
I want to leave you with a very cheesy rhyme to help, and remind you the next time you find yourself tempted to complain, criticise, or compare.
“Avoid the three C’s, to live a life of more ease”!