Quit Blocking Your Happiness
What if I told you that there are things that you are doing that block your happiness? Would you shrug this information off, calling it crazy? Or, if you truly took the time to reflect honestly about your thoughts, feelings and actions – do you think that it could be true?
About ten years ago, I was quite unhappy. I blamed it all on work and looked anywhere and everywhere outside of myself to point fingers.
- It was the crappy schedule.
- Not having enough staff made me frustrated.
- Changes at work infuriated me.
- Certain coworkers were lazy and incompetent.
- Patients just didn’t comply with what we were teaching.
The list could go on and on…
And even though I was a psychiatric nurse at the time, I bet that you could insert your own nursing role/specialty into the above and think the same thoughts or feel the same feelings.
It’s Not You, It’s Me.
I couldn’t go on like I was. In fact, it was my husband who pointed out to me just how miserable I was. He told me that if I didn’t get a grip or make a change – our relationship might not continue.
Sure, that sounds grim… but it was also very supportive. My husband, Drew, made it safe for me to really look around, do some serious thinking and decide on some changes.
And after several years of growing and healing – do you know what I realized?
It was NOT my work environment! It was me.
I was blocking my own happiness. And you might be too.
Habits that Block Happiness – And What to Do About Them.
Let’s review six habits that may be blocking your happiness. And then – take it a step further. It’s one thing to point out the habits… it’s even better when we make some changes!
Now, some of these may seem a bit harsh. That or you may think, “No, that’s not me…” Either way, I encourage you to keep an open mind as you read on through the tips.
1) You’re running on auto-pilot. Yes, that’s right. You heard me. You keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting to feel a different way.
This type of hamster-wheel approach can block us from feeling happy. Why? Because we are so distracted and rushed that we don’t take the time to pause and reflect on choices that may increase our happiness.
So, what do you do about it? It’s simple, really.
By introducing some type of mindfulness practice that you engage in on a routine basis can help you decrease distraction and stay more focused. And it can increase your happiness as you will be more mindful of your thoughts, feelings and actions in the moment!
2) You focus on the negative. Yikes, really! That’s difficult to take. And, it could be true.
As I shared above, I was a very unhappy person early on in my nursing career. And it was because all I did when I looked around was seek out what was wrong.
What we pay attention to grows. In fact, when we think about something over and over, we actually fuel the energy. This then means that we get more negative experiences as a result.
So, again, what can be done?
Work on shifting your focus.
Rather than noticing all of the things “wrong” with your nursing role or workplace – pay attention to what IS right!
Another way I like to build my “positive focus muscle” is by learning and growing. So, difficulties still come my way. My job isn’t always peaches and cream. However, when I get home from a rough day, I reflect on what I can learn from challenging situations.
There is always an opportunity to grow – even from a negative situation.
3) You vent, complain, moan and groan. Yes, in nursing, this can be contagious.
We come out of the patient’s room and head back to the nurse’s station. We see a colleague in the hallway who rolls their eyes about the patient who is back again for the third time this month. Then, in report we all huddle and complain about the short staffing.
The list could again go on and on.
It is difficult to get away from this type of behavior when you work with nurses. And, on one hand, being able to vent and speak to your coworkers honestly about what is going on is necessary. It is a part of the healing process.
But don’t let yourself harp on the bad! In fact, I like to suggest an exercise called the “rant window of time”.
What’s that about?
Well, you get together with your nurse friends. You are ready for the complain session. And, before you begin, you set a timer!
This way, when the timer goes off – BING!
Complaining time is over. Now it is time to move on and look for solutions. Shift your focus to the positive and see how the team can learn or grow together.
4) You don’t take care of yourself. C’mon. You know it’s true. We all do it. Nurses put themselves last.
We care for patients and their families. We think about our peers and colleagues. Then, we get home from work, and it is caregiver all over again.
Who’s caring for you!?
So, this one is a quick fix.
Start being selfish! That’s right. Put yourself first once and for all.
When you start taking care of you – you are filled up and much more able to care for others. So, that “selfish” is actually being selfless. It helps you be a better caregiver. At work and at home.
5) You are hanging around with some real losers. I am sorry, but it could be true.
Even our family members that we are born into… frankly, they may not always have our best interests at heart.
Look around your circle. Is your group lifting you up or bringing you down? Did you know that it really is true how they say we are an average of the 5-7 people we hang around with the most?
Another fix is possible!
Start spending time with the people you aspire to be like. Join your nursing organizations. Run for a seat on a nurse board. Get involved with mentors. Go back for further education.
And if all of the suggestions above sound time-consuming or pricey – just start hanging out with different people at work and around the home.
You need to surround yourself with positive people. Those kinds of people who will lift you up, challenge you to grow and keep your best interests in mind.
6) Your out of alignment. No, I am not recommending a chiropractic treatment. Though, if you need one… go for it.
Your struggling and feeling unhappy at work because your values are not in alignment with the organizational values.
Guess what? That’s OK.
In fact, knowing this can actually help you make informed decisions and choose a job that allows you to thrive.
What can be done?
First off, know your values. Tap into your strengths. What makes you unique? What jazzes you up? Where do you find your joy? How can you be your unique self?
Once you have the answers to the above, then you can seek out a job that lights these up inside and out!
It’s OK to be yourself. Even, necessary. You need to be at a place where you can be your best nurse.
Would love to hear your thoughts on the above list and what you’d add to the docket? Tell us by commenting below, what helps you be happy?
About the Author: Keynote speaker and podcaster, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Your Next Shift podcast, Elizabeth supports nursing organizations in celebrating and recognizing their staff in a meaningful way. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.