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The 5 Ways People Screw Up Their Lives

By Dr. Alan Zimmerman

Life itself is a fairly neutral process. It does not pre-select some people for success and others for failure.

Life comes to us one day at a time ... and to a large extent is shaped by the decisions we make.

That's right ... to a large extent. I realize there are outside influences and unfair circumstances that come into our lives that are beyond our control. And I realize some people have more than their fair share of hard times and bad luck. But even in those situations, life is often what we make it. That’s why I ask my audiences two questions...

  • “Why is it that life seems to be a joyful adventure for some people ... no matter how much bad happens?”
  • “Why is it for others that life seems to be a painful struggle ... no matter how much good happens?”

► 1. Ignorance

They misunderstand how life works. Somehow or other, they think life should be simple, easy, and fair, and when it's not, they sink into depression.

By contrast, the Welsh got it right when they said, “There is no prosperity without adversity.” In other words, struggle is an inevitable part of life, and if you handle it well, you'll be okay. In fact, you'll be very okay.

In other words, if you take the time to learn from your difficulties (rather than avoid them), your new-found knowledge will inevitably lead to better results.

► 2. Irresponsibility

Other people have more than their share of pain in life because they refuse to take responsibility. When something goes wrong or doesn't work out the way they would like, they blame someone else or something else for their situation in life. After all, it's a lot easier to kick someone else's butt than kick their own butt into gear.

Unfortunately, the blame game never brings anyone any measure of joy in life. All it ever does is encourage someone to quit. And so we find millions of people bailing out of jobs, relationships and life in general. When things get a little tough or uncomfortable, when the results seem to be very slow in coming, the irresponsible ones say, “I’m outta here.”

And that's too bad. The real joy in life comes from responsibility ... from sticking to a cause ... from getting up one more time than you fall down. Stick-to-ativity is one of the key pre-requisites for joy.

But please, don't misunderstand me. I am not suggesting you stick with an abusive relationship, or stick with a boss that constantly degrades you, or stick with a business that should have been buried a long time ago.

But I am suggesting this. If your automatic, knee-jerk reaction to a difficult time in the economy, a failed attempt at a new job, or a stressful time in a relationship is to bail out, you're being irresponsible. You're not doing all you could to change things for the better. And your chances of ever experiencing life as a joyful adventure are very slim.

► 3. Worry

About 85 to 90% of people worry about something on an almost constant basis. They worry about their health, their career, their finances, their future, their kids, their relatives, what other people think of them, and life in general. And that’s a problem. It's almost impossible to experience joy if you're focused on worry.

► 4. Disappointment

Still, other people live a life of painful struggle because they don't know how to handle disappointment or not getting what they want.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting certain things in life ... a particular accomplishment ... a special relationship ... or a new start. It's normal, healthy, and motivating.

It is not natural, however, to get EVERYTHING you want in life. As I tell my audiences, "You can have almost anything you want -- if you are willing to pay the price for it. But you can't have everything you want! It's just not that kind of world."

The quicker you realize that, the less pain you'll experience and the more joy you'll have.

► 5. Ego

Call it ego, pride, or arrogance. But the fact is ... if you’ve got too much of it, your life is filled with pain. After all, ego is nothing more than a camouflage for insecurity.

Oh sure, people with big egos LOOK like they've got it all together. They LOOK like they know it all. And they LOOK like they know what is best. But it's all an act ... an act to convince them ... and hopefully others, that they're not as bad off as they really are.

Quite simply, ego and joy cannot co-exist ... because ego stifles communication and blocks relationships. And that's easy enough to understand when you realize ego comes out in the following behaviors:

  • the unwillingness to see another's point of view,
  • the inability to listen well,
  • the need to be number one,
  • the need to be right, and
  • the unwillingness to admit wrong.

That’s why author and speaker Zig Ziglar said, “Egomania is a very strange disease. It makes everyone sick except the person who’s got it.”

If you want more joy, you'll need less ego. You'll need more honesty, more openness, and more vulnerability, and more transparency.

Final Thought: Life is a neutral process. If you experience it as a painful struggle, it's probably due to some or all of the five factors above. But if you want to experience it as a joyful adventure, you must avoid those five factors. The choice is up to you.

“These are still great times for you to be who you want to be, get what you desire, and have what means the most to you.” ~ Dr. Alan Zimmerman

As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman has taught more than one million people in 48 states and 22 countries how to keep a positive attitude on and off the job. In his book, PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success, Dr. Zimmerman outlines the exact steps you must take to get the results you want in any situation. Go to Alan's site for more information.
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