Happiness is one of those things we all strive to achieve. After all, no one sets out to be unhappy. Though, I’ll admit, sometimes a woman needs a moment to allow emotions to sink in before she’s ready to move on and put the past in the past or the future out in front where it will always be.

I tend to be an overly sensitive, analytical person who struggles with obsessive thoughts on how I could’ve or can make things work better. I grab onto that invisible rope of control and pull on it, intent on setting things into a place that is comfortable and beneficial.

At first glance, this seems like a good thing. I want good things to come. I want a win-win. I want to ensure that the steps I took yesterday or take today are working in a strong favor. How can this be a bad thing?

Well, it can turn bad quickly because I have no control over half of the outcomes. I can’t control the actions of others or the feelings of others. 

The Truth about Happiness

Firstly, I can’t control what’s already happened, and I certainly can’t make the future do what I want. It’s going to take me on a ride, and it’s up to me to either enjoy it and soak up all the lessons or frantically pull on those reins and lose focus through the frustrated tears or, even worse, egocentric lens.

With all that in mind, how can we stop obsessing about all those things of which we have no control so we can be happy with this moment at hand? Perhaps it’s advantageous to take a look at factors capable of holding us back from our deserved happiness, then working out a way to reengage.

Happiness Zappers

Ignoring Your Creative Side 

I love to oil paint. I haven’t picked up a paintbrush in over three years, however. It takes a lot to get set up. I have to take the easel out of hiding. Place the canvas on it. Prep my palette with wax paper. Put on my gloves and apron. There’s so much to do. So much prep work. So much organizing before I can splatter paint on my palette, blend colors with my knife, and decide what colors I will use to shadow and highlight.

What you just heard there was an excuse. A silly excuse. Silly because once I actually do plop paint on my brush and sweep it over my canvas, I am taken away to a place that opens my soul and tickles my creative brain. New synapses form. Feel good chemicals flow into my mental receptors. The past and future fade and I sink right into the blissful moment at hand. Before I know it, hours have disappeared along with my anxieties and obsessions over anything not paint, brush, and art. Aside from when I’m writing, when I am oil painting, I am in my heaven. I am sitting in the sweet pocket of happiness.

Take time to be creative.

Holding Onto Anger

I’ve had a few experiences in life that if I allowed them to, they’d rob me and leave me naked. One that comes to mind is when I lost a friendship over irreconcilable differences. We both had our needs and demands, and we both thought of ourselves as the right one.

This stubbornness and anger towards each other’s positions cost us. Our friendship no longer sailed the calm waters of happiness, but instead took a steep head into a direction neither one of us wanted to go. I was left with a bitter taste I couldn’t wash away, and held onto that for so long that I missed taking the next step forward into life. 

I ultimately had to let go of the anger to move on and embrace the life right in front of me. It’s good to analyze and learn from life’s lessons. If you can set things right, set it right. If you can’t, you must let go to move forward. 

Waiting for The Perfect Moment

There is no perfect moment to make a move. We just have to trust that we’ve planned and prepped to the best of our ability. But there comes a time when you just have to let go of fear and anxiety and go for it. Take the leap. Jump in.

If we never plunge into our desires, we’ll never experience them. I would never advise to jump into something blindly. Take some time to plan your move, but don’t take too much time. A lot of us get stuck in waiting on that moment when everything is perfectly aligned. There is no perfect moment.

“The time is never going to be perfect,” Jolene said. “If you wait for that, the moment’s gone and all you’ve gained is regret. You know how to handle regret, and quite well, so go handle it,” she whispered to Sarah who dangled from the boat’s ladder. – Beneath Everything

Seeking Approval

As a writer, I’ve grown into the type of person who relies heavily on the feedback of readers to gauge my success or failure. That is so dangerous. I’m acutely aware that placing someone else’s opinion on such a tall pedestal is only setting me up for extreme disappointment.

Early on in my writing career, I used to allow negative reviews to steal my happiness. Then, one day, after completing the final round of edits on my novel, The Dance, I decided I really loved the story and put everything I had into it. I worked my ass off on it, and even if no one liked it, I loved it. I tucked lots of love in between every single word I wrote of it.

I finally concluded that as long as I put my best into something, it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thought. I was happy. I loved that story. That moment marked a major shift in the way I view feedback. Sure, I still try to learn from negative reviews, but I don’t let them steal my happiness. I look at them as learning opportunities, and that has made all the difference.

Comparing Yourself

I remember back to before I bought my home. I was renting a drafty apartment and wanted so badly to have the resources to purchase a home. Meanwhile my siblings and friends were all prancing around with giant smiles on their faces revealing their pride of ownership over their beautiful homes.

They’d talk about their décor, their yards, their plans for expansions, and my heart would shrivel in the company of their happiness. I was jealous, envious, and viewing my lack as a total failure.

I compared myself to everyone around me, and the result was nothing joyful. In the comparisons of their newly built decks and planting of trees, I stared at my current circumstance with unease. I failed to see the blessings of my situation.

I was free. I was not strapped by a huge mortgage. I could pack up and move at a moment’s notice. I had choices. I had no pressure. And, I also had a future where someday I would own something too. I was so caught up in what I lacked that I failed to see what I actually had, which was a wonderful life filled with choices and freedom.

When you compare yourself to others, you’re not being fair to yourself. You’re assuming that what others find happiness in you will too. It’s a matter of focusing on the gifts in your life and being grateful for them. Find that shining light in each situation, and there you’ll discover happiness.

What is holding you back from true happiness? Tell us below.