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September 26, 2013     6

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How to Avoid Common Impediments to a Happy Life

A happy life is becoming ever more elusive these days. Our society conditions us to believe that happiness is only achieved by looking outside ourselves for guidance on who to be, what to do and how to act. Truth be told, this lifestyle ignores the one surefire way you can achieve happiness in your life, by looking inward for your guidance and answers. Here are some common, externally focused roadblocks to being happy and how to overcome them.

Wearing masks - Trying to live in the mold of others people’s expectations can be exhausting and take us farther away from who we really are. If we wear these masks long enough, we run the risk of losing sight of who we really are all together. Gay men are especially susceptible to this type of negative behavior due to the unaccepting environments we grew up in. Impress others by following your own path and find your acceptance by leading a fully realized and uncompromised life. Check out my blog, Are You Keeping It Real.

Judging Others - Truth be told, people love to judge. We like to judge others who share our same insecurities. If we’re pointing the finger at someone else, we’re keeping the spotlight off of us. Judgment takes on many forms, but one of the most prevalent is gossip. Gay men love to judge, and we certainly love to gossip. How many times have you watched a group of gay men shred another gay man for how his hair is styled, what he’s wearing or how he’s acting? I’m certainly guilty of judging others and participating in gossip. I recognize now it was simply my desperate attempt to mask my own insecurities. When we recognize our judgment of others comes from a place of fear and insecurity, we’re able to shift our perception to one of empathy, compassion and understanding. Shifting from a fear based perspective to one of love is the key to living an authentic and happy life.

Looking to others for your life purpose - Much like wearing masks, this form of external living keeps your life in the control of others. A great example is letting others choose your career for you. I can’t tell you how many times I hear stories about people who went into a specific line of work because their parents wanted them to or because people told them they wouldn’t make any money pursuing their real passion. If this hits home with you, you’re in good company. Many people let outside influences guide their life trajectory. Designate yourself the #1 expert on what’s best for your life and don’t let others steer you down the wrong path.

Procrastinating - We’ve all experienced the negative outcomes associated with putting off important things in life, so why do we continue to do it? When you procrastinate on those things that are important to you like pursuing your dream job, mending broken relationships or spending time with loved ones, feelings of guilt, sadness and shame can surface. Procrastination can start small, but end big. Time moves quickly and if you’re not careful, days, months and years can go flying by. You certainly don’t want to be on your deathbed with a laundry list of excuses for not being the person you wanted to be and not leading the life you envisioned for yourself. The time we have on this planet is uncertain, so don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today. Check out my blog, Regrets of the Dying.

Living in the grip of fear - The number one reason people fail to make positive change in their life and realize their full potential is fear. In our society, people are under the misguided notion that fear equates to weakness, so we pretend we’re indestructible and nothing gets to us. Of course, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. When you acknowledge your fear and identify what exactly you’re afraid of, you weaken its hold on you. Oftentimes, you realize the real truth about fear; it’s not real or rational. My favorite way of explaining fear is with a well-known acronym: False Evidence Appearing Real. Check out my blog, Letting Fear Be Your Guide.

Seeking perfection - Want to know one of the quickest paths to experiencing failure and shame? It’s trying to be a perfectionist. Society (via loved ones, advertisements, TV, etc.) sends us an inaccurate and all together unfair messages that if we can’t brilliantly execute on all aspects of our lives, that we’re not enough, that we have somehow failed. We hold ourselves to this unrealistic ideal, hide our perceived weakness and shame ourselves for not being perfect. The fact of the matter is, you are enough just the way you are. It’s okay to not be able to do everything. It’s okay to talk about your feelings of weakness and inadequacy. And it’s definitely okay to ask for help.

Trying to control - A kissing cousin of perfection, control is another enemy of peace of mind and happiness. When you spend all of your time trying to control every inch of your life, you burn through a ton of positive energy and burden yourself with worry. So do yourself a favor, ease up on the reigns, and trust everything in life is happening exactly as it’s supposed to be. You can have a beautiful, meaningful and fulfilled life without micromanaging every aspect of it. You just need to have faith, accept that things won’t always go as planned and not be afraid to ask for help, either from your higher power or from your loved ones.

Keeping company with the wrong people - You’ve heard it time and time again. You are the company you keep. So why not surround yourself with people who let you be the real you, support your dreams and foster an atmosphere of acceptance and love. Enough said.

Feeling a sense of entitlement - Many people have the misguided notion that the things they want for their lives can and should be handed to them with no effort on their part. The reason why they have this mindset can be attributed to any number of things, but the outcome is almost always the same. They make no progress towards achieving their dreams. Remember,

Awareness is powerful, but it can be rendered useless without action!

Knowing what you want for your life gets you nowhere if you don’t take action to obtain it. Don’t wait around for others to give you what you want or you may never achieve the goals and dreams you have for your life.

So are you dealing with any of the above impediments to a happy life? Have you overcame any of the above happiness barriers and have wisdom to impart on other readers? Join in on the conversation by adding your comments below.



As always, my goal is to give my readers something useful, tangible and worth their time. If you don’t like something you read here, leave it and only take away what resonates with you.

  • Barry says:

    Such wise words again Joel. Thank you. Especially your points on fear
    Thank you xx

  • Lisa Hertz says:

    I love your practical advice and your compassion. It always leaves me feeling hopeful.

  • Christopher says:

    Joel – I just happened on your site and found it very refreshing. Many of your statemenets have already made me question as see the space for goals and action. I have no doubt that you’re excellent at what you do.

    Thank you !!


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