Five Things That Are Making You Unhappy

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Nothing sends us fruity like trying to settle into a daily routine after returning from a vacation. After escaping from reality for a while you might come back and notice that the things you once blindly accepted start to seem a little bizarre and the values that motivated you have change. Or maybe some of you will come back and cry, simply because your suntan is fading, solariums are banned and you’re still shallow A.F. Having just returned from a short vacation I’m feeling uncharacteristically zen and wondering why so many people are so habitually unhappy? Why am I paying $400 for a juice cleanse? Why do I care who J.Lo is dating? Why do I have to wear shoes? Holidays can’t last forever but they are a good reminder of the things we do almost instinctively to suck out the enjoyment of the other 49 weeks of the year. Here’s my quick pick of serial happiness threats: please be alert, not alarmed.

1. Caring more about fashion than friendship.
Throw out your insecurities: I’ve never once judged my friend for a repeat outfit or rocking a bit of 2008 wardrobe vintage. If I ever fall in with people who are vain enough banish me for not being in new season Alice McCall then push me in front of a bus call me Regina George. Not wanting to go out with the girls because you’re embarrassed about your out of date wardrobe means you either need to rethink your priorities or your friends.

2. Letting people that don’t care about you control your happiness.
Six words: He’s just not that into you. He may be nice as pie when you see him but if that is only ever on his schedule, if either of you are drunk or you’re both naked then chances are you’re not the Bey to his Jay-Z. It’s disappointing if your affections aren’t returned, even more confusing when they try to keep you on standby. But instead of trying to play the player move on. These hoes ain’t loyal? Why the eff would we be when you can’t even write back to a text message in a timely fashion.

3. Complicating the uncomplicated.
If you don’t like where you live, move. If you don’t like where you work, find a new job. If you don’t like who you’re dating then break up. Don’t all stand up and heckle me screaming “It’s not that easy!”, because often it is. In a modern, affluent society we are lucky enough to actually have choice and control over these things. You can always make more money but you can’t make more time. Live life simply by prioritising your happiness and quality of life over BS problems like housemates that steal your food or corporations that suck joy out of you for 50+ hours per week. You’re not a turtle: move out and quit your job. You could probably use a holiday.

4. Comparing yourself to others.
Comparison is the thief of joy. I was happy as Larry playing Uno with my imaginary friend until Jo Bloggs next door throws in a wild card with his new Tamagotchi. Suddenly all of my unembittered joy turned into sadness and longing because an imaginary Tamagotchi with imaginary digital poos just wouldn’t cut it. As we get older we get better and better breeding inadequacy and self-doubt. Treasuring items is not a crime but when obsessing about what you don’t have steals enjoyment away from what you do have and that’s where the problem lies. Rest assured, kids across the world with no clue of what they are missing are still screaming with delight and hitting each other with sticks like the good old days.

5. Wanting more stuff than you need.
The desire to accumulate possessions is strong but for most of us sitting on a big pile of shiny junk doesn’t make you feel like queen magpie. Vast piles of pointless, obsolete and out of season but “too good to throw away items” start to clog your living space like cholesterol in arteries. Accumulating lots of unnecessary stuff is not just bad for the environment but it will also mess up your Feng Shui and take away the peace and sanctity of you home. Like a questionable boyfriend, if in doubt, chuck it out. Re-gift it, recycle it or sell it and move on. You don’t need that useless crap in your life.

Running around shoeless in the sunshine maybe is one of the simplest joys there is, along with sharing good food and good company. The key is simplicity and enjoying what you have instead of pining for what you don’t have. You don’t need to take a holiday to escape from negativity, squash it at first sight like ants in your kitchen. Don’t covet thy neighbour’s wife, no use crying over spilt milk and mo’ money, mo’ problems, am I right?

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Travelholics Anonymous: When it’s Not OK to Vacay

By now we have all been exposed to the Travel Bug, a common and serious parasite that can take over your life and infest your every waking thought. Many embrace the relationship as symbiotic – they nourish the travel bug which in turn nourishes them. We all know others, though, who have taken this way too far, to the point that their normal life is starved of all joy between overseas jaunts. When it gets to the point they won’t even have a $12 dinner with their friends at your local dumpling house for fear of blowing the budget, they’ve gone too far beyond passionate. More than that, the habit of sitting at home, avoiding friends for fear of frivolous expenditure, just makes you feel like they hate you as much as they hate their own dreary life. What makes it worse is that all the while they’re completely oblivious to their social leprosy, manically trawling for sale fares online like Gollum searching for ‘Precious.’

These friends, from an outsiders perspective start to appear like drug addicts – willing to lie, cheat and steal just to scrape enough money together for the next exotic hit; lurking in dark alleys and robbing little old ladies because just to fund the next plane ride. Travelling has taken to the brink, where bare essentials are being sacrificed just to fuel the habit… after all, toothpaste is just a marketing ploy, right?  We go weeks without seeing them, having barricaded themselves inside because these vagabonds can’t bear to be seen scuttling around in their travel junky outfits: Three inches of regrowth, moth-bitten yoga pants and bleach-stained singlets. Surely when you get to the point you’re working three jobs and seriously considering selling your little brother into slavery you need to ask yourself a question: “what am I running away from?” If your life is so tedious and mundane maybe you need to look a little bit closer to home to solve the problem.

Many of us are clearly driven overseas by the unavoidable fact that it’s cheaper to spend a week in Bali than a weekend in Queensland but really – how necessary is it to run for the hills at every single opportunity? Is the motivation for travel about broadening your mind or simply to bolster your Instagram gallery? By your seventh trip to Bali, I’m sure you have squeezed out just about as much culture as you can get. Perhaps you just needed to pop back for a few more Bintang singlets, a vodka bucket and a henna tattoo- who am I to judge?

It’s often one of those activities thrown out there during ‘icebreaker’ games when some soul-less facilitator tries to embarrass you all by making you share interesting and quirky facts about yourselves (Internally I’m wondering “ Holy crap, is eating a hobby?! Does watching boxed sets count?!… Should I be embarrassed that Breaking Bad is my main joy in life?”).

You start clutching at straws so no-one realises you’re as dull as a pile of pine bark: “Travel! That’s my hobby. I live to travel!” But in reality, a hobby requires dedication, practice and ongoing commitment.  The only commitment travel-maniacs have is the commitment to poor living standards and a bad work-life balance, and to the avoidance of real life goals. The end result is a fat little hamster on a wheel, working as hard as they can but getting nowhere. In the meantime, the hamsters around them start climbing the corporate ladder, buying nice things and gradually getting their shit together.

It’s great to have something to look forward to. I encourage all of you to travel, see the world, open your mind and put on five kilos trying every flavour of gelato ever invented ( because on holidays it is law that you are allowed ice cream every day). I’m just saying that there are more economical ways to enjoy your life every day and not just for four weeks a year, and therein lies the key. The fear of a boring life is real for every single one of us, but travel is the symptom – not the cure. Transplant the determination and dedication from travel plans into self-improvement and the seek contentment from Monday to Friday, not in spite of it.

We should all be looking to Bilbo Baggins for inspiration instead of Gollum. Bilbo built such a pleasant life that he was vehemently opposed to leaving it; even when he did he spent much of his time dreaming of his nice warm burrow and the joys of his everyday life.  Admittedly, our holidays don’t usually involve dragons or wizards (although I am always on the lookout for large spiders and thieves), but the point is that he built a nest; a safe-place; a life that he treasured and in which he surrounded himself with friends and family. He took pleasure in the simple things like reading good books and eating multiple breakfasts (a man after my own heart). Travel changed him, made him a better Hobbit and opened-up his eyes – no doubt about it. But Bilbo did not believe he was defined by his adventures and was always driven to return to his own life. That said, they obviously wouldn’t have made a trilogy about Bilbo sitting on his bum in a Shire. Coming soon, The Hobbit: – An Unexpected Haemorrhoid….

Not by any means am I saying that we should all be Hobbits and relish solely in the comfort of our homes until the age of 50, but I do think we could take a lesson in enjoying the simple pleasures in life such as good food, good drink and good people. Indeed the alarming amount of hair that grows on my feet could be the source of my affinity with these little fellows, but when all is said and done, Bilbo had it right. Deep down we are all waiting for Gandalf to knock on our door and drag us on a life changing adventure through Middle Earth, but until then why don’t we divert a little bit of that travel passion into creating a sanctuary in our everyday lives? The year should never be reduced to a 40hr+ weekly struggle to scrimp, save and escape a hum-drum hell, especially when that hell is most often one we have created for ourselves.

And maybe if you didn’t deprive yourself so much you could get by on the small pleasures in life, like buying $130 gym tights without having to sell a kidney to make up the deficit.

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