11 Toxic Behaviors That Will Steal Your Joy (And How to Move Past Them)

07/17/2014 08:50 am ET | Updated Sep 16, 2014
Alexey Tkachenko via Getty Images

Our thoughts, actions and behaviors play a powerful role in what type of energy we attract into our lives. That's the good news. It's also the bad news. Oftentimes, we find ourselves participating in negative behavior patterns, even if at a subconscious level. Like a giant lightning rod in a crazy thunderstorm, we become super-attractors... bringing in even more bad energy. These toxic habits can steal the joy right out from under our nose... and nobody wants that. However, once we identify the joy blockers in our lives, we can work on creating new habits which bring more positive energy to us. Here are a few of the biggest offenders and how to overcome them.

  1. Comparing yourself to others. Nothing can suck the joy right out of you faster than falling into the comparison trap. The key is to remember that we are all uniquely different with our own strengths and weaknesses. Nobody on this earth is quite like you... and that's a good thing. That being said: If you happen to notice that someone else is pretty awesome too, and maybe even feel a little jealous at times, know that it's a totally natural human emotion. But, instead of acting on it in a toxic way, turn it into a positive. Think of it as, "Hey, my heart is telling me that somewhere deep down, I want that too!" And use that thought as guidance and fuel to gingerly work towards your own beautiful dream. Beware: If you go the toxic route instead (i.e., self-loathing and/or mean-spirited behavior), you'll only stall the manifestation of your own dream. Be sure to diffuse the "j" word wisely!
  2. Being overly connected to technology. It's fantastic that we can connect with people from all over the world with a quick tap of the keyboard or swipe of the screen. Technology, used correctly, can help with increased productivity as it allures us with its endless possibilities. However, the downside is information overload (not to mention the addictive properties). Being overly connected robs us of the present moment. While social media is great, make sure you are putting more time and energy into living your own life than watching other peoples lives unfold online. Life in this moment is the most rewarding. Set healthy tech boundaries and stick to them. And, then watch your happiness levels soar.
  3. Taking things personally. Yes, it's easier said than done, but don't let the behavior of others get you down. Even if somebody directs negativity towards you, remember it has everything to do with what is going on with them and very little to do with you. Of course, it's challenging to not take things personally when somebody is mean, rude, or judgmental directly towards you. But know this: Happy people don't attack others. Send them your sympathetic thoughts and a mental hug and move on with your life. And, instead of thinking about the phrase "haters gonna hate," think: "likers gonna like." We attract more of what we focus on, so don't let the negative Nancys get much of your attention. Focus on your tribe of peeps that will always have your back, instead. They're the ones that matter most!
  4. Participating in drama. As the infinitely wise Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "Conflict cannot survive without your participation." This is so true. Your reaction only feeds the illusion and increases the drama. It's not always easy to turn the other cheek, but it will sure feel a lot better in the long run. While reacting, defending, and one up-ing might feel good in the moment, it just fuels the fires and will result in a debilitating emotional hangover when it's all said and done. Try being the bigger person instead. Forgive, let go, move on and you'll be rewarded for it in spades.
  5. Living somebody else's dream. Let's face it. We're influenced by so many people each day: friends, family, society. Sometimes, it's hard to hear our own inner voice amidst all the noise and chaos. But, deep down inside, you already know what you want to do with your life. That thing that lights you up... do it! Who cares what others have to say? This is your life. Your time to shine. Let your authenticity flourish and live and breathe your truth! A good self-check is to ask yourself, "What would I do if money was not an object?" or "if I only had a year to live?" Then, take in account how many of those things you are actually doing right now? The more you fill in the gap, the happier you will be.
  6. Striving for perfection. Nothing stifles creativity and negates any chance of being happy faster than the quest for perfect. Unless you're a robot, you're built to make mistakes. In fact, some of your biggest "failures" can be some of your greatest learning and growth experiences. Try striving for excellence instead. Energetically, it just feels better. And, perfection is an illusion anyway. Allow yourself to be the beginner, embrace your mistakes. Let go of perfect and allow yourself to live fully and experience all the beauty life has to offer.
  7. Holding onto your vision too tightly. Dreaming big, having intelligent goals and working towards creating your vision are all beautiful and important things. But, in doing so, we must remember that we are co-creators in the universe and sometimes we just have to go with the flow. It's okay to write your vision in pencil and use the eraser... a lot. A great mentor of mine, Lorin Beller, once used the analogy of holding on to your vision like you would hold on to a baby chick. You want to hold it ever so gently because you know what happens if you squeeze it too tight. So, next time you feel yourself trying to control the outcome, just think about those sweet baby chicks and ease into the flow.
  8. Re-living the Past. The past is gone. We will never get a chance to do it over. So, why it so often we cling to it and live it over and over in our mind? It's important to embrace our past, accept our past, heal what needs to be healed, but then let go. Embrace the power of now and learn to live fully in the present moment. A mindfulness practice which could include meditation, yoga, and/or walks observing nature can help you learn to connect more deeply with each moment as it comes.
  9. Worrying about the future. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Yet, we live so many of our "todays" in anticipation of what will happen next week, next month, next year. Sure, it's important to think about the future and plan for it. But, no amount of worry or stress is going to make it any different, and certainly not any better. Focus on what you can do with what you have in this moment, and have faith in knowing that it's good enough. Your future will somehow take care of itself. It always does. Even when things seem down and out, just remember that everything is happening for your greater good. In hindsight, you can probably think of times in your past that seemed horrible in the moment, but you totally get it now. Call on these memories next time life throws you a curve ball.
  10. Not making self-care a priority. Women are the worst offenders at this, but many men can relate too. When taking care of so many others, it's easy to put our own self-care on the back burner. But, in doing so, we allow ourselves to become stressed, overworked, and unhappy. And, the bottom line is this: If we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of anybody else very well either. It's best to give from an overflowing cup... not to completely empty one. So, make sure you are carving out some time for yourself (even if a couple hours a week). Allow space to unwind, take time savoring your favorite people and enjoying your favorite hobbies. Refresh and rejuvenate often and without apology.
  11. Taking life too seriously. Yes, life is serious. But, at the same time... it's totally not. We're here to have fun, to learn, to make mistakes, and to do it alongside others who are also finding their way. Loosen up a bit. Enjoy the ride. Don't forget to laugh, be goofy, savor, and enjoy life!

Do you resonate with any of the behaviors on this list? What is one small change you can make today to turn it into a positive? Don't feel overwhelmed by it. Remember, life is a game of inches. Subtle shifts in thoughts, habits, and behaviors add up to miraculous results over time. Start cultivating your own miracles right now!

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