1. You generally spend more time thinking about your life than you do actually living it. You spend more time dissecting problems than you do coming to solutions, more time daydreaming than you do asking yourself what those thoughts indicate is lacking or missing in your waking life, or coming up with new solutions as opposed to actually committing to the ones that are already in front of you. You’ve replaced “reflection” with “experience,” and wonder why you feel unfulfilled.
2. You don’t find wonder in the simple pleasures, the way you once did. You think nature is boring and “play” is for children and there’s nothing awe-inspiring about a shaft of light through the window or a stranger’s smile or a spring day or your favorite book in bed. When you’ve lost sight of the magic of the little things, it’s not because the magic has gone elsewhere, only that you’ve chosen to disregard it in favor of something else.
3. You have something you wanted in the past, but you don’t enjoy it the way you thought you would, or you’ve replaced your desire for it with a desire for something else. Bring yourself back to the feeling of wanting what you have more than anything, the way you once did. Try to embody that. You’re making yourself prouder than you realize.
4. If you were to tell your younger self what your life is like now, they’d be in disbelief. You seriously could not have imagined that your life would turn out as well as it did – that the worst things became turning points, not endless black holes of emotion.
5. You think of money in terms of “obligation” not “opportunity.” Your mindset is: “I have to pay my bills,” as opposed to “I get to pay my bills, which house me, clothe me, and feed me, and that I can pay for by myself.” If you don’t value money by appreciating what it does for you, you’ll never feel as though you have enough.
6. You think you don’t have enough friends. You’re measuring the connection in your life by a quantity, not a quality, assuming that the problem is not enough around you, when it’s really that there’s not enough inside you.
7. You’re either over-reliant or under-attached to the friends you do have. You either don’t keep in touch enough or you get easily frustrated because you think that friends should make you feel “better” and “happy” in an unrealistic way. So you think that the only way to achieve that is to over-bond yourself to them, or disregard them when they don’t fulfill the role you’ve imposed on them (hence your feeling as though you don’t have enough!)
8. You imagine your life as though someone else was seeing it. Before you make a decision, you recite a storyline in your head. It goes something like this: “she went to college, she got this job, she married this guy after a terrible breakup, and all was well.” This is what happens when your happiness starts to come from how other people feel about you, as opposed to how you feel about yourself.
9. Your goals are outcomes, not actions. Your goals are to “be successful” or “see a certain number in the bank” as opposed to “enjoy what you do each day, no matter what you’re doing” or “learn to love saving more than frivolously spending.” Outcomes are just ideas. Actions are results.
10. You assume you have time. When it comes to doing what really matters to you – reconnecting with family, writing that book, finding a new job – you say “I’m only [such and such an age] I have a long time.” If you assume you “have time” to do something, or that you’ll do it later, you probably don’t want it as much as you think you do. There isn’t more time. You don’t know. You could be dead tomorrow. It doesn’t mean you have to get everything done today, but that there’s rarely an excuse not to start.
11. A bad feeling becomes a bad day. You think that experiencing negative emotions is the result of something being wrong in your life, when in reality, it’s usually just a part of being human. Anxiety serves us, pain serves us, depression does too. These things are signals, communications, feedbacks, and precautions that literally keep us alive. Until you begin thinking this way, all you will perceive is that “good feelings mean keep going” and “bad feelings mean stop,” and wonder why you’re paralyzed.
12. You think that being uncomfortable and fearful means you shouldn’t do something. Being uncomfortable and fearful means you definitely should. Being angry or indifferent means you definitely shouldn’t.
13. You wait to feel motivated or inspired before you act. Losers wait to feel motivated. People who never get anything done wait to feel inspired. Motivation and inspiration are not sustaining forces. They crop up once in awhile, and they’re nice while they’re present, but you can’t expect to be able to summon them any given hour of the day. You must learn to work without them, to gather your strength from purpose, not passion.
14. You maladaptively daydream. Maladaptive daydreaming is when you imagine extensive fantasies of an alternative life that you don’t have to replace human interaction or general function. Most people experiencing it while listening to music and/or moving (walking, riding in a car, pacing, swinging, etc.) Rather than cope with issues in life, you just daydream to give yourself a “high” that eliminates the uncomfortable feeling.
15. You’re saving up your happiness for another day. You’re sitting on the train on the way to work, thinking how beautiful the sunrise looks, and how you’d like to read your favorite book, but you don’t in favor of checking your email again. You begin to feel a sense of awe at something simple and beautiful, and stop yourself, because your dissatisfaction fuels you. You’re creating problems in one area of your life to balance out thriving in another, because your happiness is in a mental container.