How Simple Living Can Help Your Mental Health
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be happy and content. I was reading an article about minimalism, and was surprised to realize that minimalism isn’t quite what I thought it to be. At least not the type of minimalism that benefits your mental health.
It isn’t white kitchens and sparse spaces. It’s really about how to be happy with what you have, whether it’s a physical item or your looks.
So I thought I’d consider how to be happy with what you have when it comes to social anxiety. What does this mean, and how can you use it to your advantage? Let’s take a look.
Avoid the Comparison Trap
The biggest change you can make to learning how to be happy with what you have is to avoid the comparison trap. There will always be someone who is more socially skilled than you or more confident. Always someone who seems to have more friends, a better relationship, or is further along in life.
Stop comparing! For one thing, you don’t know the full story about anyone, so you can’t be sure that what they present to you is true. Second, why is life a race? There is no rule that you have to hit certain milestones by certain points, or that you even have to hit them at all. The bottom line is that comparing yourself against others is only going to make you feel worse. Only compare yourself against you in the past.
Always Be Learning
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek to improve yourself. Always be content with what you have, but eager to learn more. Self-improvement can benefit your social anxiety, so of course you should pursue it. But your goal is not to one day start living your life once you’ve become the person you think you need to be. Realize that you have worth just by being the person you are today. This is your foundation, and now you can start to build on it.
Curate Your Thoughts
Your thoughts don’t create your reality, but they certainly color it. For this reason, always be aware of your thought patterns, and make sure that you are practicing how to be happy with what you have when you think.
Ask yourself, “Does this thought align with being happy with what I have?”
If not, find a different thought that aligns with this new belief. This has a way of minimizing any faults you find with yourself, because you just don’t have space for that. Be so busy being grateful for what you have, that you don’t have time to focus on your perceived faults.
Take a few minutes each day to be grateful for what you have. You can do this when you first wake up, when you go to bed, or at any point during the day. Just take a moment, and either write in a journal or think to yourself, “Today, I am thankful for…” and list a few things. This isn’t so much about what the actual things are, but switching your mindset from always feeling like you don’t have enough to being thankful for what you do have.
Stop the “I’ll Be Happy When…” Cycle
Have you ever put off your happiness for some future time? This inteferes greatly with practicing how to be happy with what you have. Never, ever, tell yourself that you’ll be happy when you lose 10 pounds, when you find a partner, or if you win the lottery.
The truth is that happiness is a moving target; sure, you can strive for goals, but you’ve got to be content along the way. Otherwise, you’ll be happy for a little while, but then thinking of the next thing that you need to make you happy.
When you are not happy with what you have, you tend to focus on yourself. If you’re busy finding your faults in a social situation, it’s hard to get out of your head and think of others.
Instead, if you can get to the point of being happy with what you have (your personality, character, social skills), then you can actually be helpful to others. Instead of thinking that people are judging you, you will be looking for ways to help them.
The bottom line? Avoid comparing, always be learning, watch your thinking, be grateful, stop thinking you’ll be happy at some point in the future, and recognize that being happy with what you have means that you can do more for others.
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