something something something

One of my Facebook friends recently posted a link to this blog post.  I found it amusing, and while I did agree with most of it, I felt like I had a few things to add.  So, I’m gonna respond to the article in question here (mine’s in italics). Feel free to add to the conversation.

25 Habits Of People Who Are Happy, Healthy, & Successful 

(Yes, I did add a comma to this headline–because it was bugging me).

1. They don’t hold grudges.I think we all strive to be perfect people who don’t hold grudges.  Heck, I strive not to surround myself with people who do things that make me want to hold grudges.  But the reality is that, sometimes, people truly suck.  They do massively sucktacular things.  Sometimes, these things are just not okay.  And it takes a long time to get past it–if you ever even do.  It’s alright to be mad.  It’s okay to hold a grudge.  But know that it won’t make your healing easier.  It might make you feel good when you think your mean thoughts or trash talk them on social media.  For maybe about 4 minutes.  But then, the reality will hit.  You’ll realize that you have a cut cord out there with someone.  You’ll remember who they used to be to you.  You’ll remember what they did.  And you’ll continue to grieve.  You may always grieve.  But you’ll only heal when you forgive them and yourself.  That doesn’t mean letting them off the hook or forgetting they did what they did.  It doesn’t mean talking to them or hanging out with them.  It means saying enough is enough.  It means burying the dead.  That takes time.  And everyone has their process.  So, hold that grudge if you need to.  Or don’t.  It’s your process.  No one else’s.

2. They think outside of the box.

Actually, most of the “successful” people I know don’t think outside of the box–because they’re too up in the box to step out of it.  Traditional ideas of success don’t fit in any box.  So, chances are, if people call you successful, you are stuck in a box.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from my time on Earth is that success/progress/whatever is whatever you decide it is.  Everyone is successful in his/her own way.  Some of the people I most admire have not gone down the traditional paths.  They are not making six figures or playing around in high society.  They’ve lived their lives with courage and passion.  They’ve fallen on their faces.

For a long time, I beat myself up for not being further along financially–for still dealing with the things I’ve always dealt with.  For not being married or having a family.  All those things “successful” people do.  I had to cut myself some slack.  Most people didn’t have to face the challenges I’ve faced.  Life here isn’t perfect, but it is mine.  And, to me, that’s about as successful as you get.  I’m not where I thought I’d end up.  I’m not as far along as some of my friends.  But I’m living my life as best as I can, and I’m proud of myself.  That’s really all that matters.

3. They go by a routine and make exercise a part of it. It takes practice to develop healthy habits and stick with them. Once you do, your internal foundation will be strong.

I’m probably not the best person to talk about this because I’m still working out how to be my best self.  I don’t believe in rigidity, however.  I think health and everything else depends on the person doing it.  Which means you have to forgive yourself when you make mistakes.  You have to be flexible and able to bend with reality.  Life can be really hard–on all kinds of levels.  Maybe routines work for some people.  Maybe they don’t work for everyone.

The truly important thing is to value yourself and your health.  We make time, naturally, for what we really value.  So, if that exists, the rest will fall into place.  If an intention exists, you’ll find a way.  There’s no magic formula here.  It really does come down to what you believe.  Then you can worry about habits and routines.

4. They have a supportive tribe, thereby not wasting time with negative or toxic people.

I’ve waffled throughout the years about negative/toxic people–mostly because I’ve had a lot of them in my life.  People who trigger me and make me angry.  But I’ve learned that, as much as I hate them and wish I never had to interact with them, they’re part of life.  They teach me things–sometimes, the most important things–about myself.  If I surrounded myself with people who constantly thought I was wonderful, I’d rest on my laurels a lot instead of getting fired up and showing that SOB what I’m made of.  I think every person on this Earth knows something I don’t.  They have something of value.  If they’re here, in this life, it’s for a reason.  I need them.  Part of my job is to figure out what I need from them–and why I need it.  I truly believe that people I don’t need in my life won’t be in my life for longer than necessary.  The good and the bad?  They go when they aren’t required anymore.

5. They don’t care about what other people think. Does a tiger lose sleep over the opinion of sheep?

The thought of never caring about the opinions of others is so appealing.  If you didn’t care what anyone thought of you, you’d be free.  Yea?  But would you, really?

The thing is, when you don’t care about other people’s thoughts and opinions, you kinda build a wall.  If you don’t care, there’s no such thing as vulnerability.  It’s harder to establish connections and intimacy.  Because the thing is?  People’s opinions matter just as much as your opinions matter.  There are lessons in both.  So, for me, I do what’s in my heart.  I pay attention to what it says.  But I listen to other people in relation to my own heart.  Because sometimes, they bring out parts of me even I don’t know.  My reactions tell me a lot.  And sometimes, I really do need the challenges.

6. They don’t people please.

I think it’s always better to do things just from the goodness of our hearts.  But we live on a planet where people are often crappy, and if people didn’t do things to conform to society’s expectations of goodness, there’d be a lot more miserable people on this planet with unmet needs.

Is doing good, no matter the motivation, ever really a bad thing?  I mean, if you do good to your own detriment, then yea–I guess it can be.  But doing good still gives you something back.  So, I would argue that being a people pleaser is something that–on some level–makes people happy.  No one does anything unless it benefits them or makes sense in some way.  So, perhaps, a better goal would be to look inside yourself and try to understand why pleasing others is so important–what needs are going unmet and motivate the pleasing?  There are certainly worse things in the world.

7. They see difficult and challenging situations as opportunities for personal growth.

All situations are opportunities for personal growth.  It annoys me that people truly believe that growth can only come from immense suffering.  Some of the most healing things in my life, that have pushed me forward, simply involved living or being happy.  Difficult situations are hard enough without the added pressure of having to learn from them.  My experience? You’ll learn whatever you need to learn without intention.  It doesn’t matter how you see it.  You’ll be it because it is what it is.  Life has a way of putting you in your place, regardless.  And sometimes, it’s enough just to get through.

8. They consider handling rejection a skill and are resilient.

I’m far less awed by resilience than I used to be.  When people call me resilient, I roll my eyes.  Mostly because I don’t see it as a choice.  Or a skill or some tool in a fancy little kit.  People are resilient because they have to be.  When you’re drowning, you don’t sit and think about how you can survive.  You just survive–or die.  When enough stuff happens, maybe you get good at surviving.  But it’s not really something you choose.

9. They make time for themselves. Whether it’s getting eight hours of sleep every night, finding 15 minutes to read the newspaper in peace or an hour to go to the gym, they make it a priority — just like everything else. When you take care of yourself, you have a bigger impact on others.

I think, again, this is in an ideal world.  While it’s definitely preferable to live a balanced life, we all have our own definitions of balance.  We all have our own definitions of happiness and success.  To be successful, there are going to be times when you’re meeting yourself coming.  There will be moments of extreme self-sacrifice.  I think the key here is that these sacrifices are a) deemed necessary, b) come from a place of true passion, and c) are temporary–not long-term.  It’s impossible to work 80 hours a week for years and years without losing something personally.  But if it’s work you love, where you’re actively choosing it, and it fits with your life?  Maybe, it’s worth it–to you.

Some people also don’t really enjoy balance.  They have a hard time resting–even though they, undoubtedly, need to.  Their idea of rest may differ greatly from mine.  What seems like work or rest to me might be something else entirely to them.  For instance, I tend to multitask in everything I do.  If I’m watching a movie, I’m probably also playing a game on my iPhone.  Sometimes, while watching bad TV, I’ll organize my music or Pinterest.  To most people, that seems like the opposite of relaxing.  But, to me, it’s perfect because I truly hate to be bored.  Unless I have to pay attention to something–like when I’m watching Homeland or reading a book–I actively choose to be engaged–even if that means juggling tasks.  

10. They are spiritual. This doesn’t necessarily mean religious. It could mean setting aside time for reflection through yoga or meditation.

I don’t think this is necessary–and it’s a bit judgmental to people who believe in nothing.  I think you can be perfectly happy, healthy, and successful and not feel a greater connection to absolutely anything.  I do think connection and reflection help me, but I’m hesitant to impose my feelings on other people.

11. They practice deep breathing.

Deep breathing is nice for all sorts of things, but I think most of us can achieve everything we want with shallow breaths–as long as we remember to breathe and keep the rest of it in perspective.  Heck–sometimes, a good shallow breath is the best thing ever.  (Says the asthmatic).

12. They know there isn’t such a thing as “having it all,” and they’re happy about that.  Wouldn’t the world be a boring place for them otherwise?

Bullshit.  I think you CAN have it all.  But it’s, again, depending on what your definition is and if you actually want it all.  The people who say you can’t have it all really don’t want it enough.  The beauty of this life is that I get to choose where it goes.  I get to choose what I do.  And yes, I can set crazy big goals and achieve them.  I’m never limiting myself.  You can choose your life, too, but do not put limits on mine.

13. Fear doesn’t hold them back. They’re ready to take risks.

I think every happy/successful person is absolutely terrified, often.  But I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re ready to take risks or that fear doesn’t hold them back.  I think the most successful and happy people have learned from fear and probably have been held back by their fears.  The difference is that they don’t allow those fears to keep holding them back.  They take the time to understand the fears and how they exist in their worlds.  They acknowledge and honor them.  This doesn’t mean plowing down fear like it’s some building in your way.  It means being self-aware and living with what is.  And knowing that, sometimes, it takes patience and time to get past it.  When you live with fear, you really are never truly ready to take a risk.  That doesn’t mean you stop risking.  It just means you figure out how to do it anyway.

14. They know how to say “NO,” and don’t hold back. These people have learned to set boundaries. Plenty of them.

I think I disagree with this one, too.  There have been plenty of times when people told me I should do things or asked me to do things that I really didn’t want to do.  Things I wasn’t sure about.  Things I didn’t think I could do.  Things that scared the shit out of me.  But, people pleaser that I often am, I would at least try.  This simple act of trying often put me in positions where I could surprise myself.  Just because your first instinct is to say “no” doesn’t mean saying “no” is the right response.

It’s a lot more complicated than that.  Sure–you should have boundaries.  But, like all rules, you must review them.  You must know where they come from and why they’re necessary.  You also need to know who you’re dealing with and create partnerships where people understand what you’re capable of.  That means being brutally self-aware/transparent with your colleagues.  It means voicing your fears.  It means asking for help.  As hard as it is for me to say no to people, one of my Mighty List action items is to say yes to most things.  Because when I’m saying no all the time, I’m probably staying in my comfort zone and not growing very much.  The key is putting yourself first–not doing things just because you feel like you have to.  Very big difference.

15. They learned a great deal from other people whom they admire. Either they had a great mentor, or they took note of how those they aspired to be like handled various situations.

I don’t think admiration is necessarily a requirement.  I’ve learned so much from people I don’t respect/admire–probably more than from those who inspire me.  I think you need both.

16. They follow their inner guidance. Not only do they have a vision, but they follow it.

While inner guidance and vision is great, it needs to be checked.  Otherwise?  You can be batting at a few million wind mills or sinking into delusion.  You have to have personal goals, sure.  But you also need people to check them.  If you’re being an idiot, people need to tell you.  You need cheerleaders and detractors–that’s the only way to really understand what you’re doing and get better at it.

17. They give without expecting anything in return.

The Pollyanna in me really wants to live in a world of flowers and lollipops, but this ain’t that world.  Relationships–on all scales–are transactions.  People do things for specific reasons.  These reasons may be selfless.  These reasons may not have clear benefits.  But, on some level, everything has a benefit or a cost.  That’s the nature of existence.  Whether these costs/benefits are acknowledged is a different story.  That said–there are truly generous people in the world.  But it’s important to realize that these things exist.

18. They aren’t pretentious or conceited.

I think all happy, successful, healthy people are pretty confident about–at least–one thing.  Maybe not all things…but something.  And whenever confidence enters the picture, someone on this Earth might see it as its shadow.  Or that confidence might come out as a shadow in certain contexts.  I don’t think this is a bad thing.  And certainly, the lessons that come with pretention and conceit? Worth learning.

19. Passion is what drives them. They authentically believe in what they’re doing.

Whoa, loaded words.  Ultimately, I’d like to think all happy, successful, healthy people are authentic.  I’d like to think passion is their sole motivation.  Reality?  Probably not…at least, not always.  People are complex.  People change.  You might start off doing something because you feel really bad about yourself and want to feel better.  Then, lo and behold, you find your niche and discover passion.  So, while passion probably is your main motivator, it still began with insecurity.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  You do what’s necessary, given the information you have, and you learn as you go.  That’s life.  Does it honestly matter?  I don’t think so.  Not always.  If you’re driven to do things to hurt people, then yes–maybe it does matter.  For the most part, a person’s motivation and authenticity is their business–not mine.  Well, unless I’m trying to sell them something.

20. They don’t complain.

Bullshit.  All people complain.  The people I know who are most successful and happy are big complainers, too.  They know what works and what doesn’t.  They’re transparent enough to express their frustration, and NEWSFLASH–they change things.  There’s complaining for the sake of complaining (futile).  And then there’s complaining for the sake of change.  If you just complain to hear yourself talk–yep, you’ll be a miserable idiot.  If you complain for the sake of revolution, you’ll probably get your revolution.  The squeaky wheel, as my Daddy used to say, gets the grease.

21. They live by their core values in both their professional and personal lives.

This one is hard.  I think, on some level, you do have to keep your personal life personal and your professional life professional.  As much as I want to be the same person when I’m doing business, that person is very ethical and gets easily hurt.  The reality–as hard as it is to accept sometimes–is that people don’t operate like I do.  People do think different rules apply.  That it’s not personal–it’s business.  That you can be ruthless to get ahead, and it’s okay.  I don’t think it’s okay.  I’ve lost friendships with professional contacts because they thought it was okay to operate on a different level.  I learned pretty quickly that I couldn’t exist in certain worlds operating on my personal ethics.  There’d be too many broken relationships.  I had to learn that their approach to business was different than mine.  I had to get really clear about what was an absolute no to me and what felt merely off-putting.  And I let go of the stuff that wasn’t essential to me being okay with me or doing right by others.

If you’re going to work in certain roles–in certain industries–you have to understand how most people operate.  You have to understand who you’re dealing with and what drives them.  People are often out for themselves in corporate arenas.  It sucks when you get a crash course in that.  It sucks more when that behavior is rewarded.  It often is.  And if you don’t play by that game, you often won’t be successful.  I’ve learned to set very clear boundaries…to act in my own ethical way–but to only gauge my own behavior and determine what’s good for me–not for other people/their choices.  I don’t delude myself into thinking people have my back (they probably don’t).  I come to the table with respect–but I don’t put my heart there.  I do my job, to my ethics, and if something violates them–I refuse to do it…knowing it might not be received well.  If you’re like me, you learn quickly that some places just aren’t right for you.  And then you change it when you can.

22. They’re happy to swim against the tide.

To some extent, yes.  I think most successful people have to get to a certain place before they can do that comfortably.  You have to earn your place.  You have to earn respect.  Then, people give you a little rope.

23. They finish what they start.

Sometimes.  I think knowing when to stop is a crucial skill–far more important than finishing everything.  I’m betting few members of the Clean Plate Club are happy.  The key is knowing what you need and stopping when your needs are met.

24. They don’t compare themselves to other people.

I think some comparison always needs to happen–or else you really don’t know where you stand.  It’s hard to improve if you have nothing to measure against.

25. They want you to succeed, too.

Again, that’s a nice thought.  I think the best people in the world do want others to succeed, but there may be other motives behind it.  I’ve known plenty of successful/happy people who were pretty much oblivious to other people and didn’t really care if someone succeeded or not.  

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