Want to succeed and be happy in your personal and professional life? Of course you do. We all want to succeed and be happy in life. However, in our pursuit of happiness and success we often thwart our own success without even knowing it. Certain bad habits curtail our productivity and hinder our chances of finding true happiness. Here are five common ways you may be thwarting your own happiness and success without knowing it.
People today are sleeping less and less in a bid to get more done in a single day. While you may think you are helping yourself get ahead by depriving yourself of sleep, you are in fact curtailing your own happiness and success. Maria Konnikova, psychology Ph.D. and popular writer for The New Yorker, says a crucial function of a good night’s sleep is to purge out biochemical waste products that result from our conscious brain activities.
When you don’t catch enough sleep every night, you contribute to a buildup of harmful proteins in the brain that put you at risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Get enough sleep each night to allow your brain to rest, rejuvenate and function at its best. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults.
Our modern society loves and encourages multitasking. How many times have you seen job descriptions where it says applicants should be ‘Good at multitasking?’ As a writer, you may even be proud that you can write, text, chat on Facebook and listen to the radio all at the same time. However, multitasking hinders focus and forces us to use our brains sub-optimally. When you multitask your attention is divided. You take longer to complete tasks and are predisposed to exhaustion and easily avoidable mistakes.
A 2010 French study found that the human brain can handle two complicated tasks without too much trouble because it has two lobes that can divide responsibility equally between the two. Add a third task, however, and it can overwhelm the frontal cortex and increase the number of mistakes you make. Focus on one thing at a time to enhance attentiveness and boost your chances of success, at least where it concerns cognitive tasks like writing.
One of the biggest time suck and productivity killer today is mindless Internet surfing. Many of us suffer the addictive urge to “browse just a little more” in between our daily work tasks. We tell ourselves we will just peek on our Facebook news feed, skim through our favorite blog or watch just one YouTube video and then get back to work. Unfortunately, one YouTube video leads to another and we end up wasting valuable productive hours on pointless web browsing. When you surf the Internet mindlessly you waste precious time, become less productive and ultimately more stressed.
Discipline yourself to use the Internet better, says Konnikova. Set rules that govern your time spent online. For example, set a half-hour for checking and responding to e-mails, an hour for browsing the day’s news, a half-hour for updating your social media accounts, and so on. You may also use an app to block online distractions or prevent Internet access for a period of time so you can focus and get the writing done. Just quit the Tweeting, Facebooking, Digging…and whatever else you do online in between work.
One thing about pursuing happiness and success is that it is often characterized by excessive devotion to one’s self and one’s interests. In a bid to succeed and be happy, we look out for our own interests only. We clamor for vain things like fame and become more of "takers" rather than "givers" Ironically, the mere pursuit of happiness and success thwarts our own chances of success. When you are always looking to take and take without yourself giving, you step on many toes and win many foes. This complicates and makes the journey towards success that much harder.
Roy Baumeister, social psychologists at Florida State University and author of the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, says what sets human beings apart from animals is not the pursuit of happiness, which occurs all across the natural world, but the pursuit of meaning, which is unique to humans. People who lead meaningful, happy and successful lives get a lot of joy not from the ability to take the most from others, but the ability to give the most to others.
Our fast lane lifestyle today has become a grueling race towards an abstract finish line where we think happiness and success lie. We are impatient and anxious about everything and wish to avoid even the slightest delay at whatever cost. We gobble our meals down, zoom through client projects and even skim through books! We view speed as something positive—something that will help us do more and reach our goals faster. Unfortunately, this attempt at hyper-activity often makes us less productive.
When you move through life at a frantic pace, you become irritable, stressed out and prone to errors and health problems like depression. Life passes you by before you can really enjoy it. Calmness and mindfulness, however, helps you focus and get more done. Natsuki Takaya advises, “...you must always be yourself, and do things at your own pace. Someday, you'll catch up.” Slow down, breathe, look around and enjoy life. Work hard, be patient, commit to good health habits like regular physical exercises and the happiness and success you seek will eventually come around and catch you.
See Also: 6 Common Mistakes that Doom Writing Careers.
Image: luxorphoto via shutterstock
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