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Most of us want to live happier lives, but unfortunately, a lot of the things that we think cause unhappiness in our lives have more to do with how we interpret them.

Our own individual hang-ups and negative reactions have a lot more to do with the level of happiness we experience than events and experiences themselves. It isn’t necessarily what happens, it’s how we let ourselves react.

With this in mind, there are plenty of old habits that negatively influence our happiness every day, and making a concerted effort to let them go will free you from the bonds of disappointment and frustration.

Here are just a few of things that you should let go for a happier life:

Self-Defeat

If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you can’t. That’s all there is to it. If you start thinking that you aren’t good enough, aren’t smart enough, aren’t strong enough – you will always see yourself as less than you really are. When you tell yourself that you can’t do something, you’re disappointed in yourself before you even try.

Complaining

Much like self-defeat, complaining reinforces itself in your mind. When you start complaining about things you don’t like, you solidify them in the front of your mind, and will continue to focus on all of the negatives, no matter how many positives there are. Instead of complaining about the things you don’t like or aren’t enjoying in a given moment, focus on finding positives about anything and everything. Look for the silver lining on even the darkest clouds.

Trying to Impress People

There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement and setting lofty goals for yourself, but if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, you won’t find any happiness when you reach those goals. Putting time and effort into impressing other people, instead of going after the things you want for yourself, is a fast track to disappointment.

You can’t rely on other people to validate your interests or accomplishments. If you aren’t doing it for yourself, you’ll never be satisfied with your progress.

Excuses and Blame

This is another one related to self-defeat. When you start listing all the reasons you couldn’t or didn’t do something, you’ll really start to believe them. When you didn’t or couldn’t get something finished – own it. There’s nothing wrong with admitting a mistake or being honest about finding something difficult. There is no shame.

You don’t need to conjure reasons why you didn’t or couldn’t do something – simply accept the reality, and focus your efforts on how you can improve.

This goes for blame as well. There is no need to point fingers to take the heat off of yourself – and it won’t make you feel any better. It will just drag others down with you.

Control

If you micromanage, you’ll drive yourself into unhappiness with stress, and overwhelm yourself with imagined responsibility. Some things will always be beyond your control, and lamenting them won’t get you anywhere. If you can set aside your need to control other people’s actions, and recognize when something is simply outside of your reach, you can relax and let things unfold as they will.

The Past

The past is gone. It’s behind you. It can’t be changed. Looking to the past with regret, or with too much nostalgia for the “good ol’ days” creates an unfair comparison in your mind. If you are stuck on the good parts of the past, you won’t be able to see the good parts of the present. If you are consumed with the problems or negative events from your past, you won’t be able to move toward a happier future.

Other People’s Expectations

The only person’s expectations you should live up to are your own. If you define your own self-worth by the opinions and expectations of others, you will always feel as though you haven’t done enough. Or, you will encounter so many conflicting expectations that you cannot possibly satisfy them all. It’s ok to fulfill your obligations, but do it because of the standards you hold for yourself.

If you want to live a happier life, let go! Focus on building your inner strength and happiness, and stop comparing yourself to other people (and other people’s ideas of who you should be and what you should do).

Create your own happiness by learning how to let go of all of the negative internal habits that build walls, make you feel small, disconnect you from others, and make you see negatives instead of positives. Happiness is out there – you just have to claim it!