Advice on how to get ahead in life is everywhere. Yet so many people continue to think and behave in ways that are counterproductive, unhealthy, and self-sabotaging. Here are three simple things you can stop doing today to markedly increase your satisfaction with life.
1. Stop thinking more money will make you happy.
Meaningful work and meaningful relationships are the real secret to happiness. That’s according to billionaire investor Ray Dalio, who shared as much on Tim Ferriss’s popular podcast. He points out that studies have determined that neither intelligence nor money are correlated with happiness, but being connected to other people definitely is. “If you have meaningful work, like you’re on a mission, and you have meaningful relationships, I think it’s almost impossible not to be happy,” he says. “There will be unhappy moments in your life that you encounter this thing or that, but the people who are unhappy seem to be missing those things.”
2. Stop trying to be perfect.
Extreme perfectionism can be a path to depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. In a recent study of thousands of college students, three kinds of perfectionism were measured: having unrealistic expectations for one’s self, wanting to live up to other people’s expectations (socially prescribed), and having unrealistic expectations for others. From 1989 to 2016, levels of perfectionism rose in all three realms–10 percent, 33 percent, and 16 percent, respectively. Do yourself–and everyone else in your world–a favor by lightening up and focusing on efforts and intentions more than strict results.
3. Stop playing it safe.
While it might seem like taking easy roads that you know to be enjoyable would lead to greater contentment, some of your best life experiences are probably ones that induced some level of anxiety by way of exploration and getting out of your comfort zone. Researchers have found that the curiosity involved with taking risks–and not knowing for sure how things will turn out–is actually correlated with increased life satisfaction. Could things go wrong if you sing karaoke for the first time, or travel to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language? Certainly. But, chances are, doing things that make you feel a bit vulnerable will grow you as a human being.