Thoughts by Bruno Bernardino

5 Things I Stopped Doing

Which have made me happier!

August, 2016

Before you start reading through this list, note I’m not saying you should do these.

Do whatever you want that makes you happy.

I’m merely sharing a few things I stopped doing that helped me feel better, and that you can consider for yourself.

You might even be doing these things and feeling happy about it! That’s perfectly fine!

They simply didn’t work for me, and I didn’t realize it for many, many years.

I stopped…

… omitting “failing information” (#1)

Everyone has a tendency to only show the “awesomest” moments of their life.

Post the prettiest photos.

All the good stuff we’ve done.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but we embellish. We say “it was great”. We don’t say “it was great, but a bit tiring to get here”, or “in the beginning I wasn’t enjoying it, but in the end it was worth it”, for example.

In sum, we’re not really honest about our successes.

The problem is when you (or someone else) experience that again and compare with that story, the new experience will seem worse (because the story isn’t complete).

Now I try to be more honest about what I really felt when sharing stories.

The most difficult aspect of this is trying to tell/write an interesting story while keeping it honest, because people are so used to the overhyped “all successful” stories, that it’s easy to “lose” someone while sharing it.

… photographing and sharing everything I do (#2)

A “curse” from always being connected, we are always tempted to stop and take photos of what we’re doing right now (obviously posing and “embellishing” the moment). Share with the world. Let everyone know we’re happy.

If I’m happy, I’m happy. I don’t need to tell others. I don’t need others to know. I only need to know myself. I can enjoy the moment.

Since I’ve started taking at most a couple of photos a day, they became more meaningful, and less distracting of life itself.

It helps I don’t need to worry about work outside my “office”, so I only need to take my phone out when we’re trying to document an event (to make it easier to remember later — 1 photo, not many), or answering some question no one really knows the answer to :D

I also rarely share them on social media. It’s much more interesting to talk about these things with friends in person (for friends I don’t see in person, I share these when we videochat). Related to #1, I can also be more real about the experience.

As a bad side effect, I can’t help but feel some discomfort when people are always taking photos and/or sharing them. I know the problem is mine, though, so I need to keep working at it!

… comparing my life to others’ (#3)

Very related to #1 and #2, when I spent time on Facebook and Twitter looking at all the cool stuff other people did, my brain would start telling me things like “Oh, you’ve never done anything like that!”, or “Wow, you’re really missing out on life!”.

Those are really dumb statements because:

  1. Life is too short to experience everything. I make my choices.
  2. I should be happy with the experiences I’ve done, when I did them.
  3. I should be happy the other person experienced that!
  4. They’re only sharing the good parts of the experience, not the full story.

Nonetheless, it’s normal and studied that everyone’s brain does mostly the same in that situation.

My life is mine and being happy with my choices and what I do should be enough. If I’m not happy, I need to do something else, but not try to live someone else’s experience.

I basically stopped “using” social media (I will go there a couple of times a month or so to check on some remote friends and family — and also share stuff I write, when I do).

A negative aspect to this is people sometimes might feel I don’t care about what they did, or think I’m being condescending. Again, something I need to work on, because I’m genuinely happy they’re happy!

… thinking they’re out to get me (#4)

When someone makes a comment on something we did, are doing, or want to do, it’s really easy to take it as a personal attack. That’s what the world, in general, teaches us growing up: people are always judging.

The best thing I learned that taught me to notice this feeling was meditation. And I handle it with empathy.

When I notice it, I try to remind myself the other person likes me. They’re not saying what they’re saying with a bad intent. I’m interpreting it wrongly.

If they’re being intentionally mean (not frequent, but happens in situations like driving), I ask myself: “What would cause me to act the exact same way that person is acting?”

I can always come up with a scenario. We all have acted in ways we’re not proud of, and had really bad days.

With that, it’s easier to approach the other person more calmly and respectfully.

Our instinctive response of fight or flight doesn’t make it easy to always respond in the best way, so it’s a daily practice and habit.

… thinking others care about me (#5)

Throughout our life, we’re taught others are looking at what we do and they care if we’re doing something right or wrong.

That’s not true. Everyone is “too busy” (or focused) living their lives.

Yes, I might be in someone’s consciousness for a few minutes or moments when they see me or we’re talking, but after the interaction is over, it goes away. They’re focused on their lives now.

People might pay attention for a while, but they don’t ultimately care the same way I do. They will not consciously think about me for as long as I do, so my opinion is more important for me than others’ opinions.

I can appreciate this is very hard to accomplish since we’re bombarded with ads (in various forms) every moment where we’re being convinced that we need to impress others.

The way I got to these and many other things was by really doing things intentionally and try to avoid mindlessly flowing through life.

Paying attention to the moment and critically thinking about why I’m doing what I’m doing has enabled me to incrementally and slowly make many changes and create habits that I felt have improved my life and overall happiness.

Thank you for your attention and kindness.

Bruno Bernardino

Written by Bruno Bernardino.
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