There's a roadblock to success and happiness, and it might be your own attitude.
As hard as that is to admit, it makes sense.
Happiness is out there in the world and available, and it is not related to extreme wealth or holding a top executive position. Often, it's a matter of perspective. To help free yourself to pursue real success and happiness, here are a few things to avoid. If you try this and it works, please drop me an email and give me the backstory.
1. Negative self-talk
In my experience, the number one reason people do not feel successful or happy is because they keep telling themselves they are not happy or successful. Negative self-talk is a real problem, and it's also easier to do that (from a brain science perspective) than positive self-talk. The secret is to stop doing it. I recommend the "bounce" principle. When you have a negative thought, bounce it away and think about something more positive instead.
2. Looking for what is wrong first
Related to this is a tendency to look for the negative side of things. That meeting with the new boss went swimmingly except for that one minor comment about your work ethic. We default to the negative and mull over it endlessly, which makes us feel like failures. The solution is to focus on what went right instead and to dwell on those positives. Make a list if you have to!
3. Avoiding risk
One way to ensure your own displeasure and discontentment is to never try anything new. When you stick to a routine, it means you are avoiding all risk. Sadly, this risk aversion is exactly what prevents you from experiencing joy and fulfillment, because it's when we take risks and try something new that we experience an uplift in our emotions and outlook. New experiences fuel new thoughts and ideas, which then makes us feel like we've accomplished something.
4. Pretending to be happy
Don't pretend. That's a recipe for unhappiness. Related to negative self-talk is living an illusion of happiness. We tell people we are happy, we brag about our success, but internally we know it's not true. How do you fix that? In my experience, living in truth eventually reveals what is really not working in your life, and then exposes what is causing the hurt and anguish. It's better to embrace your own unhappiness and work to resolve it than pretend it doesn't exist.
5. Comparing yourself with successful people
It might be time to end the comparison game. It doesn't work, and there are no winners. Fueled by social media, which is all about comparison, we tend to look for examples of happiness and contentment, but that ends up causing more anxiety. Instead, stop comparing yourself and accept your current position in life. You are likely more successful than you think.
6. Defining happiness all wrong
Most people define happiness as an internal sense of pleasure and contentment. I blame the dictionary, which uses that definition. However, it can be hard to quantify unless you use a new definition--that happiness is a sense of well-being and purpose. It is not always "feeling good about yourself" but is better defined as "feeling good about your purpose." Using that definition, happiness can come with a change of purpose--and a change of perspective.