At the heart of this quote, you will find that regardless of what is currently happening in your life, the way you perceive your life is what makes you happy or unhappy.
If negative assumptions or beliefs are consuming you, then you will be unhappy. On the other hand, if you have a positive mindset (even in when navigating tough times), then you will be happy. Ultimately, perception is your reality, so changing the way you look at your life can make the difference.
But how can you know when your mindset is faulty?
It can be hard to tell when the negative thoughts are outside yourself or inside your psyche. That’s part of the problem with a negative mindset—it clouds your judgment.
You are constantly focusing on what’s wrong
Do you always find yourself fixating on your worries and disappointments, but never thinking about the things that are actually going your way? This is a sure sign that your mindset is contaminated with negativity. There may be a lot of bad things happening right now, but odds are there are at least some aspects of your life that are in good shape.
Taking time to be thankful for those things is important, because it helps to keep the bad from completely overwhelming your perspective. If you become blind to the good things, you may lose them, or not use them to your advantage.
You mourn your failures but forget to celebrate your victories
“The difficulties and struggles of today are but the price we must pay for the accomplishments and victories of tomorrow.” ― William J. H. Boetcker,1 Motivational Speaker
This is closely related to the sign above. Do you find yourself feeling angry and despondent whenever you suffer a loss, but glossing over your victories? When you do not take the time to celebrate the moment when something goes your way, it is because on a conscious or unconscious level, you do not believe in your victory. You believe underneath it is concealing the seeds of failure.
When you do this, you continuously are sending yourself a very negative message. You believe that you will always fail, and that you cannot celebrate victories because they are all just future failures in disguise. This is a really poor way to live your life, because not only do you miss out on all of life’s precious, beautiful moments, but you spit on life itself, and on your own ingenuity, luck, and achievements.
“But I don’t want to take anything for granted,” you might reply. That is a good thing, but there is a third path, and that is gratitude. Remember, constantly casting doubts on your victories is as ungrateful as taking them for granted, because it isn’t a real acknowledgment of them.
Believe you are capable of real victory. Some things do last.
You don’t want to face the truth
Complaining about reality is not going to change it. You can rage all day about the rain clouds, but it is not going to bring out the sun. It is good to have a sense of justice, to appreciate what things should be.
But in a way, relentlessly complaining is a refusal to acknowledge and accept the truth. There are simply some things you cannot change. Not everything is under your control. And there is no bigger mistake than refusing to see the world for what it is, because that is the point where you can no longer tell fact from fiction.
Take action to change the things that you can. Speak the truth when you see an injustice, but accept that the world will never be fair, as much as maybe it should be. Until you can accept that fact and change your mindset, it will never be realistic, and you will always be plagued by resentment that your expectations are not being met.
4. You feel angry when your expectations are not met
This leads directly to another red flag. If you are constantly finding that the world or people in your life or even you yourself are not meeting your expectations, it most likely means your expectations are unrealistic to begin with. Our expectations are a huge part of our mindset. They are what we believe to be possible or necessary.
Expectations lay the groundwork for our experiences. If we have unrealistically high expectations, nothing ever satisfies us. For example, if you set out after college expecting to be a millionaire by age 30 and you find yourself nowhere near that benchmark by age 25, you will probably be pretty miserable. But are you really miserable because you are not a millionaire, or because you have not achieved what you expected to by that age?
This all comes back to seeing the world as it truly is. Maybe you are gifted and ambitious, and maybe in a perfect world, you would have your first million by now. But we do not live in a perfect world, and with all the gifts and ambition in the world, you cannot control every factor. That is why it is important to adjust our mindsets to survive and thrive in such a world.
5. You feel unsatisfied and unhappy with everything you have (or don’t have)
The downside of ambition is that it often blinds us to the wonderful things and people we already have in our life. Maybe you want a bigger home or a more expensive car, but can you remember when you didn’t even have the home or car you have now? Maybe you wish you had more friends, while disregarding the value in the friends you have now.
There is always more to strive for, but for this reason, more can never truly satisfy us. It always leaves a hole that is impossible to fill.
“You will never stop wanting more until you allow yourself to have what you already have. To take it in. Savor it. Now is a good time to do that.” ― Geneen Roth, Author
6. You find yourself regularly coming to blows with the people you care about
If you are constantly disagreeing with the people you love, it is a good sign that your mindset may need some work, especially if you trust those people and respect and value their opinions. Your arguments with them may reflect more on you than on them. Try to see where they are coming from—it could change your mind for the better.
7. You think about what you “have to” do instead of what you “get to” do
When you find yourself viewing everything as an inconvenience instead of as a welcome opportunity, it usually means that you are no longer appreciating what you have. “I have to do all this work,” is a tempting statement when you are tired, but you get to do all that work. Not everyone does!
Work feeds you and keeps you alive, and keeps the enjoyable things in your life accessible. So remember to appreciate your work, even when it feels burdensome!
8. You see yourself as a victim
The problem with seeing yourself as a victim doesn’t come from the fact that it is necessarily inaccurate—sometimes you really have been victimized by bad people or unfortunate circumstances. However, constantly viewing yourself as the victim does not empower you to change or build a better life for yourself. Even if you were the victim, overcome this low self-esteem by making a decision to reject that role and start creating something better. You deserve it!
9. You hold onto the dramas of other people
Sometimes, the negative mindsets we find ourselves struggling with do not reflect us so much as they reflect the messages we have received throughout our lives. Maybe your parents told you that you shouldn’t pursue your passions, or maybe you had a negative partner in your past who made you feel you were never good enough.
If the dramas inside your head sound familiar and you catch echoes of voices that are not yours, it may be time to let them go. Those dramas belong to those other people and reflect their judgments and perceptions, not yours.
To change your mindset is not easy—but it is one of the most powerful things you can do. Learning how to recognize a negative mindset is the first step. Once you do, you will be empowered to make those changes and start seeking out the positive. Doing this can often turn your entire life around!