If you want to be happy as you get older, say goodbye to these 12 behaviors

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As we get older, the bright, shiny perspective we had as kids starts to wear off.

We experience financial struggles, loss of relationships, death, trauma, and all the other not-so-lovely things that go along with living a long life.

And to cope with these difficulties, we often pick up unhelpful behaviors along the way that only make things worse.

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom though. But it does take a conscious effort to change.

If you want to be happy as you get older, saying goodbye to these 12 behaviors is a good place to start:

1. Neglecting your health.

There is nothing more valuable than your health.

The quality of every other facet of your life hinges on how healthy you are.

It doesn’t matter if it’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being. You don’t have to look far to confirm that a healthy body and mind improve your quality of life.

It’s pretty difficult to be happy when you’re chronically unwell.

Can you be? Certainly. Is it much harder? Absolutely.

So wherever possible, make choices that will nourish your body and mind rather than feed off them.

2. Avoiding change.

The tides of life change.

Sometimes you’ll be high, sometimes you’ll be low.

It’s normal, and you’ll cause yourself so much more suffering and pain if you don’t allow yourself to ride the waves.

Things start, and things end. That’s the way it’s always been and the way it will always be.

For example, let’s say Bob is in a relationship that he knows isn’t right for him, but he stays in it – for years – because he doesn’t want to face a big change.

That’s years he could’ve used to improve himself, years that both people could’ve spent in a better-suited relationship, and years he’s spent accepting a life of unhappiness.

3. Holding on to the past.

The past is gone, done, and over with.

Nothing you can say or do will change it.

Perhaps there were good times that you constantly dwell on because it was a much better period for you.

However, by living in the past, you deny yourself the chance to have a better present and a better future.

You will never be happy right now or in the future if you aren’t living in the present.

So stop wasting your time wishing for days that are long gone, and focus on making a change right now.

Extra reading: How To Let Go Of The Past: 16 No Nonsense Tips!

4. Holding on to grudges.

This can be banal advice, which is questionable at times.

When the average person says, “Let go of grudges”, they may give that advice to anyone about anything, including some pretty terrible crimes that can’t just be forgiven and forgotten in an instant.

Let’s be a bit more specific. We mean, “Let go of mundane grudges”.

Like holding on to trivial arguments, miscommunications, or lost opportunities.

Do they suck? Yes. Do they matter now? Probably not if you think about it.

However, if someone is terrible to you and causes lasting damage or trauma, that’s a matter that will need working through in order for you to let go, preferably with a licensed therapist.

Extra reading: How To Stop Holding Grudges: 8 Things That Actually Work

5. Avoiding unpleasant emotions.

As we’ve said, life is sometimes good, and life is sometimes bad.

That’s just how it is.

But some people want to deny that.

They say things like, “Good vibes only”, “Look for the silver lining,” or “Everything happens for a reason”.

I say, “Toxic positivity.”

Yeah, everything does happen for a reason, and sometimes the reason is just that life can suck.

Denying yourself the freedom to feel emotions like anger, sadness, and fear keeps you from healing and moving on from difficult situations.

Rather than working through these unpleasant feelings, you just suppress or bury them. This doesn’t get rid of them though; it only delays the inevitable.

Those unresolved feelings or issues will be uncovered eventually, and then they have the power to sabotage whatever is going on in your life at that point.

6. Avoiding the unknown.

You know what? The unknown can be intimidating and scary.

It’s so tempting to avoid new experiences or opportunities and stay rooted in what you’ve always known because it feels comfortable.

But note the word ‘comfortable’.

Comfortable doesn’t necessarily mean happy, or even content. Being comfortable could mean staying in a terrible job or miserable relationship just because you know what’s going to happen and what to expect.

But the truth is, even the ‘known’ is an unknown. Nothing is guaranteed in life.

You might get laid off from your job, or your partner may walk out on you, and then you’ll be thrust into the unknown whether you chose it or not.

So take matters into your own hands. If you’re not happy with your life, embrace the unknown and make a change.

There are few things more tragic than living a miserable existence just because it’s familiar.

7. Staying in your comfort zone.

People lose opportunity after opportunity because they won’t step out of their comfort zone.

And as we get older, that comfort zone tends to get smaller and smaller.

If you want to experience more happiness, choose to embrace your discomfort in more situations.

Perhaps you want more connection but feel nervous about going to a social event – go anyway.

Perhaps you don’t want to apply for that new job because you’re worried you might actually get it – do it anyway.

Perhaps you have the opportunity to go to school but you feel intimidated – do it anyway.

If it’s something you want, don’t let fear hold you back. Amazing things rarely happen without at least a bit of discomfort.

8. Pretending you don’t need help and support.

Being clever or capable doesn’t mean knowing everything or being self-sufficient.

Some of the most successful people are those who can identify the gaps in their knowledge, skillset, or capacity and ask for help and support when they need it.

Asking for help in this way isn’t shameful, it’s sensible.

Granted, ignorant people try to make it shameful. They want to make you feel incompetent for needing help, but that’s not a you problem, it’s a them problem. They are trying to project their insecurities about needing help onto you.

Don’t let them.

Everyone has strengths, and equally, everyone has things they find challenging. There are no exceptions to this.

If you can utilize this by excelling in the things you find easy and enjoyable, and outsourcing or getting support with the things you don’t, you’ll find life much more enjoyable.

9. Holding on to unrealistic expectations.

Do you think you’re going to find that perfect job? Perfect relationship? Perfect house?

You won’t.

Because there’s no such thing as perfect.

Anything presented as perfect is likely carefully crafted to appear that way and is not based on reality.

Now, you may find things that are mostly perfect for you. Some things fit better than others after all, and there’s no harm in finding the best fit.

But, by holding out for unattainable perfection, you say no to so many opportunities for real growth and happiness.

And even if you do find that job, partner, or house that ticks all your boxes, you may well discover that your idea of perfection isn’t everything you hoped it would be.

Extra reading: 8 Ways To Lower Your Expectations Of Everyone And Everything

10. Living aimlessly.

When you have nothing to aim for, life can feel like a miserable, pointless existence.

Setting yourself goals and aiming to achieve them helps to give your life meaning and purpose.

They don’t have to be big, life-changing goals. Even aiming to achieve ‘minor’ everyday things, like clearing your to-do list, or saving for a vacation can energize you.

Often, it’s not even the meeting of the goal that’s most important, it’s simply having something to work toward.

When you are aiming to achieve something, it can fuel you with drive, passion, and determination.

It may involve problem-solving to overcome obstacles, looking for new ways to do things, and taking risks.

All of this translates into personal growth and ambition, which makes for a healthier, happier you.

Extra reading: 8 Steps To Finding Direction In Life If You’ve Lost Yours

11. Neglecting your relationships.

Healthy relationships help keep you happy.

But when kids, family, work, and life take over, it can be hard to find the time or energy to socialize.

And in the modern age of technology, we can be fooled into thinking that we’re maintaining relationships simply by forwarding memes or reacting with emojis.

Technology has brought us together in many ways, but socializing through a screen just isn’t the same as face-to-face.

Sure, you can alleviate some loneliness from it, and if it’s the only option that’s ok. But, for most people, the physical presence of a person provides psychological and physiological benefits that you just don’t get through a screen.

So if you can, make the time and effort to maintain your ‘real-life’ relationships, and don’t let life get in the way of keeping those connections alive as you get older.

12. Resenting the aging process.

People fight and struggle to maintain their youthfulness, whether that’s trying to do things their body just won’t do now or worrying about their appearance.

Others limit themselves to what they think they can and can’t do based on their age.

Sure, you’re probably not going to climb Mount Everest at age 60 (unless, of course, you’re well-conditioned and athletic). That’s a sensible limit to assume.

However, limiting yourself when it comes to things like self-improvement and then blaming it on your age is not sensible.

Take starting a new exercise class or going to college as an example. “I’m too old for that” you may say.

No, if anything, you’re probably in a better position to succeed because you’re older, have more life experience, and you’re wiser.

Sure, you won’t be able to do everything the younger you could do, but there will be different opportunities open to you.

There’s no shame in getting older. Many people are denied that privilege.

So why not enjoy it?

About The Author

Jack Nollan is a person who has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years now. Jack is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspective from the side of the mental health consumer. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.