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5 Unconscious Habits That Lead to Unhappiness & Poor Health

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 10 19

1. Strictly Adhere to Time and Schedules

Being punctual is important. It’s polite. It’s professional. Having a friend who is consistently late to every event is difficult and a nuisance. But keeping to a schedule so detailed that you have written in the time it takes you to tie your shoes is going a little overboard. I’m exaggerating slightly but there are people who actually have every last minute penciled in. Keeping appointments and schedules is great, but if your life is dictated by them, then the point is lost. Schedules are meant to reduce stress. Too often people get caught up in the minutia of the day and forget to breathe. The unnecessary attention given to a number on clock is a burden. If you are one of those people who gets completely bent out of shape if you are running late, like I was (and sometimes still am), then you know just how much that anxiety can affect you. Life is too short to let an entire day get lost because of a few lost minutes.

2. Overthink Things

If you’re a perfectionist, you probably overthink. I, like so many others, tend “sweat the small stuff.” Like the rigidity deemed necessary by the “Time-Keepers,” the over-thinker can’t move on unless every little detail is exactly the way it is “supposed” to be. I am in no way saying that attention to detail is a bad thing. It’s very important actually. But there’s a difference between being attentive and being obsessive. The obsessive people have problems finishing projects or frequently turn them in late. And from experience I know it makes having fun a lot more difficult—especially when overthinking goes one step further. Catastrophizing. Sounds like a made-up word, I know. But you’ve probably done it. A person’s thought process quickly goes from “I made the margins too large’” to “my department is going to lose that grant and I’ll die…” This is a little exaggerated, but if you spend all your time making sure that the margins are precisely 1.25’’, you won’t even get the grant proposal completed.                  

3. Don’t Ask for Help/ Ignore Needs

This one can be simple or it can be complicated. The simple scenario here is like me, a just barely 5’ tall female not asking for help as I try to get a book down from a high shelf. With my luck those books would probably pummel me. But on another hand, this can be something like a working husband or wife not letting their spouse know they need help with the kids, getting the groceries, or just coping with stress. At least with my family, many of the “fights” arise because someone is tired and run down. This applies at work, too. Having not been in the working world very long, I’m not quite certain on the protocol, but I do know that if you are overworked, you can’t do your job to the best of your ability. Sure, sometimes you need to bite the bullet and buck up. But if it’s your pride that’s keeping you from happiness, put it aside. Sometimes strength is saying you need a hand.

4.  Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk should be a concept that is virtually unheard of in this world, but the sad truth is that too often do we sell ourselves short. Whether we say “I’m too fat” or “I’m incapable,” with each statement comes the crippling effects of negativity. Every time such phrases cross our lips we are held fast in stagnation or pulled further down into despair. I understand it is difficult to be positive when there are so many societal influences dictating we conform to a certain standard. So even if at the moment it seems impossible to truly believe it when you say “I’m awesome and I know it” remember this: there’s a saying that goes something like “fake it till you make it.” If you keep telling yourself you’re awesome, eventually you’ll believe it and act like it.

5. People-Pleasing

There is nothing wrong with help people and doing favors. But there is a fine line between doing things for others and not doing things for yourself. It’s natural to want to lend a hand, but forgetting your own needs in the process can lead to unnecessary unhappiness and this can affect anyone of any age or status. Parents, grandparents, children, friends—anyone can find themselves in a position of constant pleasing. The degree to which this extends varies just as much. You can be the simple favor-accepting-person or the give-up-your-dreams-person. The thing is, regardless of where you stand, often times you do the things you do not because you truly enjoy it, but because you feel if you don’t you won’t be loved. It’s important to understand that you don’t (or shouldn’t) have to give up who you are in order to be appreciated. If you keep forgetting to love yourself, all the outside influences won’t mean a thing.

6. All Work and No Play

The last thing people do is forget to have fun. In this world it is a constant struggle to stay afloat. It seems that everyone has a double mortgage, three kids, loans, etc. and the importance of hard work has never been more emphasized. But like the people-pleasers and the schedule-junkies, the hard-workers tend to forget the importance of breathing once and awhile. Doing something extravagant isn’t necessary. All you need is a few minutes a day to remember why you work hard and why you live. If time is an issue, use your commute to in the car to belt out your favorite song. Do a crossword puzzle if that’s what you fancy. Dance while you brush your teeth. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your social status is, without the ability to cut loose, life is destined to be stressful and dull.

Credit: http://www.hypericum.com/


Aug 14, 2011 9:39am
Wow! What a great article on 'habits that lead to unhappiness & poor health.' I know someone that matches each of these traits (myself included). Since we only get to live each day once, we need to acknowledge these traits, and change them. I will be recommending that this article be a Featured Article. Congratulations on your currently Featured Article, and welcome to InfoBarrel.
Aug 14, 2011 9:47am
I appreciate the comment and I'm glad my content was useful to you. Thanks also for recommending my article, I'm excited to finally be making progress on InfoBarrel.
Sep 6, 2011 12:47am
This was a well-reasoned and pleasantly paced piece. And your #1 (puntuality) is my all-time pet peeve, and it IS rude to keep people waiting (it's a sub-conscious power play; the offender seems to believe his/her time is somehow more valuable than the person's who's kept waiting). Common courtesies do seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur. I also like your #6 -- I think we all tend to forget that life isn't about work -- you work to live, not live to work. Also you wrote this wayyyy more "nicely" than I would have with the same subject matter, so you get extra points and a "like" for your awesome diplomacy and tact! (Oh, why is your avatar a phi? Just curious)
Sep 6, 2011 1:45am
#4 Negative Self-Talk. I use to do it to make the people around me feel better about themselves. I have not done it in years and yes, people did notice. I started to praise myself instead. If people have issues, learn to work them out.

People-Pleasing. I feel good when I do good because I want to. I use to let people make me feel guilty for not being their someone to lean on or allow them to live vicariously through me. I hope I'm using the correct vocabulary. Guilt causes pain and hurt. I now make it known it's not acceptable anymore.

Great article, and a thumbs up and a click on the Google + 1 button.
Sep 6, 2011 2:28am
Very nice article. Really enjoyed reading this. Recognise so much of myself in what you're saying...mainly the perfectionist bit...it's soo easy to get lost in the detail and even after the deadline, you still end up thinking of what you'd have changed if you'd only had just a little bit of extra time...often leaves you thinking you should've/could've done better...and then that's where the talking yourself down comes in...

Worthy of being featured article so it's a +1 from me too.
Sep 6, 2011 2:39am
I appreciate the comments and likes on the article. Thank you for taking the time to read my writing. Vicdillinger, my avatar is a phi because it symbolizes philosophy or love of knowledge.
Sep 6, 2011 6:25am
"Schedules are meant to reduce stress." Think I should print that out and stick it at my desk, in the kitchen, on the front door...
Brilliant article
Sep 6, 2011 8:13am
Really good article, lots of common sense but it's difficult to get rid of those nasty habits, isn't it?
Sep 6, 2011 11:06am
Excellent article, Hana.

A long time ago, I had to take a ferry each week back and forth and stressed over getting there on time before it would leave, causing so much stress (and speeding). Finally I threw the schedule away (it ran every 40 minutes anyway) and all the stress went away. I still never had to wait more than 20 minutes on average. Stress shortens your life and causes so much illness.
Sep 6, 2011 6:17pm
I really like your article. I especially agree about sweating the small stuff. I do that far too much and have had to teach myself to look at the bigger picture.
Sep 7, 2011 8:28pm
Nice article. I appreciate the negative self talk aspect. It is interesting that your mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what you tell it. That is why all the motivational speakers tell us to picture ourselves in whatever condition we want to be in, or the achieving the goals we have set for ourselves.
Sep 10, 2011 1:32am
Wow, what a great article! I am guilty of all those things. I have been trying to change most of them and have had a little success in stressing less. I'm going to print this out and keep it around to remind me to stop doing these things. Thanks!
Sep 13, 2011 10:22am
Thought-provoking article. My perfectionist tendencies often prevent me from even starting a project because I am uncertain I can do it perfectly. Wasted energy abounds!
Sep 13, 2011 4:52pm
You should follow up with 5 unconscious good habits that lead to happiness and good health.... :)
Sep 16, 2011 9:39am
So many times, happiness and good health are a conscious choice. Unconscious habits usually lead to negative things... while attracting positivity in one's life is an effort unto itself.
Sep 20, 2011 11:12am
I really have a problem with catastrophizing. Regardless of the issue, I just assume that things are going to come unglued and that it will bring about the apocalypse! And your point about not being so strict with a schedule also applies to me. I'm never late for anything. In fact, I show up early for everything and end up being bored a good portion of my life. I really need to live a little!
Sep 20, 2011 4:47pm
I am guilty of at least three of the unconscious habits you have explained in your article; but I do consider myself a happy person and in very good health, I guess it depends on the degree of these bad habits.
Oct 12, 2011 2:48pm
Even though I am very young in age I seem to over-think and under estimate myself. almost every point you made explains me. Except the hard worker part, haha. Its really not healthy at all to do any of the things you mentioned because you wear yourself down to the bone. You should have people there to support you because it does make things easier.
Oct 31, 2011 3:41pm
This is a great article and bit of a kick for me - I can see myself in each point! Scary...
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