Happiness is something that all people want. People spend billions of dollars each year trying to buy material items that are supposed to make them feel fulfilled, only to discover that, once purchased, the goods lose their appeal. Happiness, it seems, is short-lived.

The biggest problem with happiness is that most people confuse short-term pleasure from long-term joy. In thinking that fleeting pleasure will bring a deep sense of contentment, people find themselves lost in a maze--searching for cheese that they can smell, but never can never attain. This search reinforces that, regardless of the blessings already present in their lives, they need something more to feel content about their experience.

The truth is that if you can't be happy now then no matter what you obtain, you won't be able to enjoy it. By scampering through this maze seeking something you won't find, your behaviors are preventing your ability to enjoy your journey to the center.

To help you discover the happiness that's already present in your life, the list below illustrates 17 behaviors that all happy people give up.

1. Staring at screens for entertainment rather than engaging in quiet reflection.

Constant stimulation restricts creativity and prevents you from taking pleasure in your progress. Sometimes you need to hit the pause button on your typical routine and reflect on your growth. Life is short--spend more time enjoying the fruits of your labor and less time binging on Netflix.

2. Looking to people and materials from without to fill emotional pain within.

There is no substitute for quality psychotherapy. Constantly looking for some-one or some-thing else should be a warning sign--you need to catch up on your inner work. Prioritizing real self-development will lead to a more fulfilling life.

3. Trying to fit into an image rather than embracing your unique qualities.

Don't try to be someone you're not. It wastes valuable energy that could be used to maximize your individual talents.

4. Thinking that temporary pleasures--like new clothes--are what create long term happiness.

Clothes and materials are often used as a masquerade, but they don't change what's underneath. Happiness isn't manufactured from your outward appearance, it's created from inner wealth.

5. Trying to impress and please others instead of focusing on your own goals.

Sometimes you need to invest in yourself. After all, you are your most valuable asset.

6. Spending too much time worrying about the future.

It's easy to get caught in the trap of looking into the future when you live in a world of deadlines, but it's important to reset yourself by re-connecting to the here and now.

7. Wasting valuable time fixating on the past.

Looking in the rearview mirror is great when you're trying to parallel park, but not a great idea when your goal is to continue moving forward.

8. Saying "yes" to far too many opportunities at the same time.

Boundaries create a foundation for happiness to emerge. You can't expect happiness if you don't have the energy you need to take care of yourself.

9. Allowing small problems that don't matter to ruin your day.

Not every little thing is a catastrophe. Don't waste time and energy obsessing over small things that don't matter.

10. Telling yourself the same sad stories over and over, without re-writing the narrative.

You are the author of your own life's story--it's time to start writing a story that you want to read. Stop pretending like you aren't the one narrating your experience and start taking responsibility for your actions.

11. Having expectations of perfection rather than a realistic outlook.

Perfection doesn't exist, so stop self-sabotaging your efforts. Remember that progress isn't linear--life is full of ups and downs--what matters is your persistence.

12. Thinking that you are the center of the universe and then getting angry when "s***t happens".

Life is unpredictable and failure is part of progress. Take a step back and appreciate how small you are in comparison to a mountain or the ocean. Each person is the center of their own universe, and yet, none of us are visible from space.

13. Avoiding your insecurities and pretending that they aren't impacting your life.

The more you avoid your demons during the day, the more powerful they become at night.

14. Seeing the entire world in black-and-white, all-or-nothing terms.

Trying to simplify life's complexity can be helpful in some situations, but living your life according to dichotomies leads suffering.

15. Blaming people that you love out of frustration at things you can't control.

It's time to stop displacing your feelings on to innocent people that you value, and start letting go of things that are beyond your control. Show loved ones that you appreciate them more than the stressors of modern life.

16. Focusing too much on what you don't have rather than practicing gratitude.

Gratitude is a powerful antidote of suffering. Start taking inventory of your blessings and cherishing all of the wonderful things that are always present in your life.

17. Taking yourself too seriously and adding unnecessary pressure.

Sometimes you need to relax. There's no need to grasp the steering wheel with white knuckles, just grab the wheel and drive.

Don't allow your behaviors and the society around you to transform your life into a rat race. There's no need to get lost in the maze searching for something only to come up short.

Happiness is not a material or resource that can be possessed, it's a byproduct of full engagement with life in all of its ups, downs, richness and poverty.

Stop engaging in unhelpful behaviors that offer temporary pleasures at the expense of lasting happiness--you have a choice; now you must decide how you want to live.

Published on: Jun 1, 2017