It is said the great American president, Abraham Lincoln, once remarked, "Folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be." How profound a statement this adage still is! No doubt this man must have come in contact with people of many circumstances and situations. He met the rich and successful, some of whom never smiled. And he met the poor and ridiculed, whom - with all of their difficulties and misfortunes—smiled despite everything.
Being happy isn't dependent on circumstances but on a mind which chooses to see the good instead of the bad. I have learned being happy often means not allowing outward situations to affect your inner peace. Additionally, I've decided to stop doing things that hinder my happiness.
Below is a list of 6 things you should never do if you want to be happy.
1. Hold on to resentment
If there is one tip I could give to anyone, it would be, "Forgive quickly and easily"
Holding on to grudges will kill all potential for true happiness and success. Deep down we all know the right thing to do is to forgive. But it feels more desirable and powerful to hold on to anger and grudges towards our wrongdoers.
Once you forgive people, you essentially lose that power you feel over them. You may still remember the pain caused, but being angry and bitter about what happened doesn't stop those who wronged you from succeeding nor does it benefit your life. So, you might as well forgive and forget, the quicker the better.
2. Be motivated by money alone
"Money has never made man happy, nor will it; there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has, the more one wants." -Benjamin Franklin
Money itself isn't evil; however, the love of money has led many people down dark paths. There are generally three motivators in life: money, love, and passion. Happy people have a balance of all three.
However, if your single motivator is money, problems arise. After too many years of living for the money, life grows monotonous. We all have friends who walk away from great jobs, who—when you ask them the reason for their leaving—say they lost the passion for their life's work. This usually happens when money is the overpowering motivator.
3. Neglect friends and family
It's essential to maintain and build meaningful relationships. If you neglect friends and family, you will burn the most important bridges needed. The people closest to you will be your backbone during hard times and will be your greatest task force to call on.
People on their deathbeds seem to look back on their lives with regret on how they treated and neglected those closest to them. Don't be one of these people filled with remorse. Make amends. Reach out. Pick up the phone.
4. Complain and moan
If you constantly moan, complain and whine. You are mentally trapping yourself within a net of negativity. The Bible has a passage with clear instructions: "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable" (Philippians 4:8 NLT). If you can follow this, life will fall into place.
Being happy depends on your outlook, not your situation. Remain positive and happy about yourself and others. Find something in every situation to be grateful for. Actually, the very fact you are still breathing is a cause for celebration. Happy people are optimistic, enjoy their relationships and enjoy the little things in life.
5. Never take a break
Holidays, trips abroad and family outings are necessary breaks needed in this fast-paced 21st century. Without these breaks, we reach our mental limits too quickly. Inadequate rest allows us to become irrational and make bad decisions out of character.
Even if it's a small break from normal routine, take some time and break away from your working pattern. Enjoy life.
6. Rarely express gratitude
"Be thankful in all circumstances." -1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
I remember the difficult time I had in school balancing family, work and education. In those times I had to remind myself those three aspects of my life were privileges not given to everyone here on Earth.
There are countless people who hunger for education but who don't have access; families who struggle; and even people who don't have access to clean water. Being blessed with so much, it is imperative to be thankful and to count blessings, even during difficult days.
Avoiding these six obstacles to happiness will give your life an immediate boost. You'll feel healthier and more productive. People will gravitate to you. You'll make friends more easily and create and sustain meaningful relationships. Decide to be happy today.
This article was originally published on Donald Roberts. It has been republished here with permission.