As entrepreneurs, it can be extremely difficult to achieve and maintain happiness because you’re likely driven and often unsatisfied by nature. When one problem is tackled, you move on to the next, with little rest in-between.
If you want to be the best person you can be though, in both business and life, you need to strike a balance, and happiness is a key component. If you’re feeling unhappy, here are 10 things that could be holding you back -- and how to beat them:
1. Not enough control.
Being in control, or at least feeling in control, of your life is a key component of happiness. It’s why both children and adults often strive so fiercely for independence, so they can feel like their life is theirs to do with as they wish. When you feel out of control, unhappiness is close behind.
So how do you gain more control? By finding and acknowledging the things you actually do control and identifying things you don’t yet control but that you could with some effort. You’ll find that far more is within your power than you might initially have thought.
2. Not feeling grateful for what you have.
A great deal of unhappiness stems from comparing your life to others, which can quickly make you feel inferior. When you feel inferior, it can be hard to feel grateful. One of the best ways to combat this feeling is to make a list of everything you have that you should be grateful for. Another is to help yourself realize just how much you really have. Compared to people globally, you’re probably extremely well off.
3. Not enough time in flow.
If you’re not familiar with flow, there’s an amazing TED talk by the godfather of flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is a mental state where you are deeply focused on the task at hand, your awareness of time passing has slipped. In other words, you’re “in the zone.” The more time you spend in flow, the more satisfied you will feel, and satisfaction is a key component of happiness.
4. Not enough novelty.
Having new experiences, trying new things and going new places all play a role in your happiness. Your brain craves variety; new and exciting stimuli. If your life is stuck in a rut, with little to no variety, it’s going to be tremendously hard to feel happy.
I’ve found that the easiest way to conquer this is to do just one new thing each day. It could be walking to work instead of driving, switching up what you eat for breakfast or doing one thing you wouldn’t normally do. A little bit of variety can go a long way.
Related: 11 Habits of Truly Happy People
5. Not enough to look forward to.
Positive anticipation is one of the most powerful tools you can leverage towards happiness. When you have something awesome to look forward to, it changes your focus and buoys you up with excitement. This is one of the reasons it’s so valuable to spend your money on experiences and not things.
6. You don’t spend enough time outdoors.
Did you know that multiple studies have found that spending time in nature can make you feel dramatically happier? Living in a big city, I’ve found this to be absolutely true. Even a few hours out in nature leaves me feeling happy and upbeat.
If you’re feeling down and haven’t spent much time outdoors lately, go find a nice park or wooded area, and just relax for an hour or two, and see how you feel.
7. You feel too much stress.
Let’s face it, stress sucks, but it’s a part of life for just about everyone on the planet. That said, stress levels vary, and having too much can put the kibosh on your path to happiness. So how do you combat it? While some of the recommendations above can certainly help, here are four more tips to get you rolling.
Sometimes though, you simply need to make the decision to remove yourself from stressful situations. That could mean quitting a crappy job, ending a relationship or giving up a bad habit. Figure out what’s causing you excessive stress, and get that out of your life.
8. You’re not thinking optimistically.
Are you a glass-half-full, or a glass-half-empty sort of person? Unsurprisingly, glass-half-full people tend to be happier, because your outlook on things directly affects your reality. If you’re optimistic, you also have a better chance of success, because it will help guide you through difficult times. If you train yourself to find the positives in any negative, you’ll find benefits from that in all walks of life.
9. You aren’t learning new things.
Closely tied with our need for novelty is our desire to acquire new knowledge. The more you know, the more empowered you become. For me, I put a huge emphasis in learning about future technology and the innovations that are happening rapidly around the world. At the same time, I deliberately keep myself off most mainstream media because of the negative focus of most such outlets. By acquiring new positive knowledge while filtering out biased negatives, I’ve found it vastly easier to be happy.
10. You lack a purpose.
There’s some debate on whether or not you truly need a purpose, usually because purpose and passion can get confused, but the data has clearly shown that you’re happier when you feel like your life has a purpose. What you don’t often hear though is that you can have more than one purpose. Your purpose could be self-centered, and you can change your purpose at any time you choose. A purpose doesn’t need to be set in stone!
Not sure what your purpose should be? Here are some tips to figure it out.