We live constantly surrounded by expectations. They come from all kinds of sources: from our parents, teachers, employers, friends, partners and, most importantly, ourselves. Besides that there are also societal expectations… All in all, it gets a bit much.
Sometimes we get so caught up trying to live up to someone’s expectations — be they our own, or someone else’s — that we stop paying attention as to what else we want to do besides reaching some standard hanging over our heads. We forget how to do things for ourselves because we want to, we forget to strive for the most important thing: to be happier.
I’ve struggled with that my whole life which, of course, is way shorter a time than for many others, but I’ve still learnt some valuable lessons along the way.
Stop demeaning yourself
Do the opposite instead.
Instead of talking shit about what you do, how you do it and how you look, try to find the nice things about it instead. It doesn’t matter if the thing you’re doing is unfinished and imperfect — nothing is perfect, really; look for the things that you like in it nonetheless.
That drawing you did? Maybe the way you drew hair looks nice.
Maybe you did break your diet, but you still went to the gym, and that’s the important part here.
Maybe your poem doesn’t rhyme perfectly, but you found a couple of incredible metaphors to convey what you wanted to.
If you train your brain to do that, it will become habitual. If it becomes habitual, you will be happier, I promise.
Stop fighting, stop arguing with people who give you compliments, stop backing away from nice things.
All the negativity you say about yourself stays. Your brain gets used to not accepting the nice things people say.
Stop comparing yourself
It doesn’t matter if a 15-year-old writes more. It doesn’t matter if your highschool friend is on a higher position at work. It doesn’t matter if someone has lost more weight than you have.
None of these things matter. First of all, because all people struggle with different things. Secondly, because everyone has their own pace at which they’re most comfortable. Thirdly, because all of us are wired differently. And, finally, because it’s rarely actually motivational — it just fuels jealousy, envy and/or anger.
Nobody needs that. Look for ways to be happier instead.
Stop accepting societal norms as your own
No, I’m not talking about the law. Please respect the law. Our society is falling apart as is.
But be sceptical of many other widely accepted things. It mostly concerns issues like income, weight, relationship status, sexuality, progress…
Just because someone said that there’s an ideal weight for your height, it doesn’t mean that it’s true — muscles and fat weigh differently, people have different bone structure, etc etc etc, but most importantly what matters here is what weight you yourself are comfortable at.
That applies to a lot of the norms, too. Accept what you’re comfortable at as your norm, and strive for comfort. That’s the main way to be happier.
Take time to know yourself
A lot of the things may not become obvious just as you go. Sometimes, it’s important to sit down and think about why some things happen, why you act a certain way and many other things.
You have to be careful with this one — overthinking is a very big issue — but everyone needs time to discover themselves properly to be happier.
A lot of your problems can be solved that way. Is there a reason why you’re especially abrasive with your parents? Is there a reason why you’ve always been way more drawn to girls despite ‘not being into them’?
Having everything figured out from the get-go is a very unrealistic standard — literally not a single person I’ve met has been like that. And I’ve honestly met a lot of people.