“Live long, and prosper”, the famous salute from Star Trek that has been a rather… profound meaning. Living a long and healthy life can be the product of many, many different types of things, and is different for each person. Maybe your aspirations are to be surrounded by many family and friends, all of which you love and appreciate. Or maybe you have a dream job that you can’t stop chasing, working and climbing your way up to do something you love. Even being adventurous and wanting to explore the world around you, start a family, fall in love…! All of these are wonderful aspirations, but sometimes the habits we fall into can inhibit our abilities to chase what we want, chase happiness, and prolong our lives for the better. Identifying some of the more common habits and giving them up can be shown to have psychological improvements, potentially giving you the chance to be happier, and live longer.
Before we begin, please keep in mind, if you can relate to any of these habits, please do not take this feedback as an attack on your character. This article is meant to be a self-improvement guide for those of you who have been feeling a little stuck.
With that being said, here are 7 habits to give up if you want to be happy and live long!
1. Blaming the world around you
Upset that the language you’re trying to learn has so many… ridiculous rules? Or maybe your career or schoolwork is just so difficult for no reason at all. When we’re frustrated, it can be a common defense mechanism for us to blame the concept we’re trying to learn, rather than accepting that somethings are just more difficult than others, and we may need to take the time to learn and grow instead of blaming.
Blaming others, the world around us, and other invisible factors such as luck or chance puts the heat off of our shoulders. However, when we never accept blame or responsibility, we are making it easy to generate excuses for our lack of action or change in ourselves. It’s always easy to blame somebody else, and leave our self esteem and self-image feeling good, but this can have drastic long term consequences (Jacobson, 2015).
Setting goals or expectations for something you want to achieve can feel devastating when it just seems too hard to possibly do. Instead of feeling that the world is unfair, try accepting the challenge the world is offering. These are hoops for you to jump through, and even if you don’t get it the first time, you can always try again.
2. Seeing yourself as your own worst enemy
On the other hand, being cruel to yourself and unforgiving can be detrimental to your happiness and lifespan. Are you unforgiving to yourself? Do you call yourself horrible names, blame yourself for everything wrong that happens? You may even seek to berate or hurt yourself with these insults, or even go as far to physically harm yourself. If you can imagine what it would be like for you to do this to another person, you may have some perspective on why it’s so hard to heal from these mistakes when we punish ourselves so harshly.
Although this “habit” can range from mild to severe, showing yourself compassion and reaching out to health professionals, there can still be recovery and ways to split from this way of thinking. Self-hatred can persist into self-destructive attitudes, which can push your happiness farther and farther away, especially if you feel as though you don’t deserve it (Self-hatred and destructiveness).
Remember that you are a person too. You’re always going to experience your mistakes first-hand, but also your greatest achievements too. Thank yourself, forgive yourself, and try to appreciate yourself for the small things you do have. Being thankful and showing yourself gratitude can go a long way!
3. Repetitive pessimistic thinking
Always thinking on the negative side? Constantly getting down on yourself or the way you see the world? You might have an approach such as, “Well, if something good happens, great! If not, I figured it wouldn’t work out anyways”. Although this may be avoidant behavior, it can also be very strong negative thinking that can affect the way you chase your goals, and stunt potentially happy or exciting opportunities.
A study conducted by Philip Spinhoven, Albert M. van Hemert, and Brenda W. Penninx has shown that repeated negative thinking is strongly associated with anxiety and depression along with relapses of preexisting anxiety and depression episodes (Spinhoven et al., 2018). Negative thinking can truly produce negative results, at least within ourselves. Make it a point to try and think positive when things are difficult, or potentially seek out happy things that inspire you to work hard towards your goals. Using reaffirming statements to assure yourself that you are in control of your own thinking can help inspire mindfulness. Even going as far to tell yourself “I’m in control. Everything is going to work out, I’m sure of it.”
4. Neglecting your sleep and ignoring your body’s needs
As much as taking care of your mental health is beneficial, taking care of your body’s needs as well is half the battle. Interrupting your body’s natural processes for something that may seem like a good idea just might come back to haunt you sooner than later.
Sometimes it can feel as though you only have so many hours in a day. So much to do, yet so little time! Why not stay up late to enjoy just a few more videos before tomorrow. Maybe even just to get a few extra study hours in? While this can seem relatively harmless, disrupting your body’s internal clock can cause issues with memory retention, and can interrupt your productivity. Repeating this process multiple times a week can cause an increasing amount of issues, and may not just be worth the slumber (Munoz, 2021)!
Before you go to bed, you may find it helpful to turn off your lights, unplug your internet, shut your phone off, or even listen to music to help fall asleep. Clearing your mind of distractions for a good night’s sleep can help you feel recharged in the morning!
5. Always giving yourself to others
Have you been giving a lot of attention to those around you lately? Find yourself chatting or texting away on your phone, and before you know it, it’s already time to pack it in for the night? It can be very easy to fall into a habit of helping others, without taking anytime to take care of yourself or your priorities that you have. Maybe you feel obligated to pick up your phone every time, just to give your friends a hand. Maybe that project you have isn’t that important in comparison? Sure, you can finish it later, right?
Letting others step into your schedule at anytime just to help them can be disruptive to your own tasks, goals, and desires. There’s nothing wrong with lending someone a hand when they need it, but once this kind of thing becomes an issue, it can feel like you’re giving everyone the time, love, and attention they need, but yourself. Assuring yourself that you deserve the goals and objectives that you aim for, and giving yourself the time that you give others can open up more time and possibilities throughout your day that you may not have seen possible before!
Try to schedule a little bit of “me” time! Take yourself out on a date, or buy yourself a small little treat that you’ve wanted. Take yourself to the movie theater, or have a bit of dedicated alone time for a book, game, or movie you’ve been dying to see!
6. Repeatedly giving up
This may sound like a very cliché habit to develop, but it is possible to develop this habit! When we face adversity such as rejection, humiliation, setbacks, or even harsh mental illnesses or break-ups, you may find yourself in a position where it can just be easy to… give up.
The manner of which you give up can be different from person to person. Maybe you want to drop out of your education, or never give love another try. You might stop seeing doctors, stop taking medications, or feel unmotivated or uncaring, like you’ve done all you can do, and that there is truly nothing left for you. Working within what you can and can’t do, and not giving up on yourself, on your abilities, and on the happiness that you want to strive for may just improve the way you can handle hardships (Kartalova-O’Doherty & Tedstone Doherty, 2010).
A way that you might find helpful to avoid giving up is to journal about your successes, and about the things that maybe didn’t go so well. When you feel like you’ve been failing over and over, you may be able to revisit some of your best moments if you write them down. Remembering your purpose and reason for doing something or working towards something can help keep your goals in perspective, and remember all the successes you’ve had when things seem bleak.
So, what did you think? Can you identify with any of the habits listed? Do you feel a little more confident being able to identify the habits that you may be falling into, and find a way to combat them? You’re not alone, we here at Psych2Go are dedicated to writing and providing researched articles dedicated to mental health and psychology in hopes to help readers and viewers such as yourself. If there’s anything you felt we missed, please do mention down in the comments, we would love to hear your story.
This is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.
Thank you so much again for all your love and support, Psych2Goers. We get closer to our mission of making psychology free and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds with every view, share, like, and comment. If you found this article valuable, please share with someone who you believe may have some of these habits, and let them know you’re there for them. Live long and prosper, Psych2Goers!
Jacobson, S. J. (2015, September 10). Why we put the blame on others – and the real cost we pay. Harley Therapy™ Blog. Retrieved from https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/why-we-put-the-blame-on-others.htm
Kartalova-O’Doherty, Y., & Tedstone Doherty, D. (2010). Recovering from recurrent mental health problems: giving up and fighting to get better. International journal of mental health nursing, 19(1), 3–15. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0349.2009.00636.x
Munoz , J. (2021, December 30). 6 common habits that are actually toxic. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxicokOsXm4
Self-hatred and destructiveness. Mind. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://mind.se/en/information/related-conditions/self-hatred-destructiveness/
Spinhoven, P., Hemert, A. M. V., & Penninx, B. W. (2018, August 10). Repetitive negative thinking as a predictor of depression and anxiety: A longitudinal cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032718305032?casa_token=yWHAsUrxqTcAAAAA%3AVFFePyf1coMAXlRNSnkY0W-eFjkdMIol1w4Wi49Xxryslw_F6dQl08UI6PzsxzQG2-Ld1b8vEQ