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  • Bob Burg

“You've basically revolutionized the way we are doing business. . . Your teaching style is very, very effective.”

~ Thomas J. Bartosic, SVP, Career Sales, G.E. Financial Assurance

Why We Sabotage Our Happiness

March 13th, 2014 by Bob Burg

Why We Sabotage Our HappinessOver a couple of recent posts we looked at happiness based on the premise that — whether consciously or not — it is a person’s main motivation. However, it can only be attained by acting in accordance with one’s values.

We then defined happiness as being the mental feeling of well-being. We also saw that happiness is different for different people, as what brings happiness to one does not necessarily hold that same (or any) value for another.

The final question then, was:

3. If one’s main motivation is happiness, then why do so many otherwise-intelligent people seem to make decisions that are obviously contrary to their happiness?

This one’s the biggie. If human beings were logic-based creatures, it would not even be an issue. We’d base everything we do on what would bring us happiness; that mental feeling of well-being. But we know many people who don’t. And, maybe we don’t; at least not always.

Again, why?

I believe that while the definition of happiness we’ve been using is correct, it’s also not quite complete. As human beings, everything we do ultimately coincides with our beliefs; our subjective “truths” about life. I devoted an entire chapter to this in Adversaries into Allies where we discuss Belief Systems.

That unconscious operating system that drives our thoughts and decisions tells us what we believe the truth about life is, and — along with that — what we believe we deserve. And, unless we are living in accordance with those beliefs, we won’t be comfortable and will not experience that sense of mental well-being.

The paradox is that, if you don’t truly believe you should be happy, then you “cannot be happy being happy.” You might only be happy (the sense of mental well-being) when you’re miserable.

This is sad. It’s so very sad. It is the cause of people going from one bad relationship to another, it’s the cause of people keeping themselves struggling financially, and it’s the cause of many more counter-productive acts.*

So, before anything else, we must truly believe that happiness is one of life’s truths, and we must truly believe we deserve to be happy. Only then, can we be happy being happy.

Of course, I’d love to know your thoughts.


*The best book I’ve ever read on this subject and how to overcome it is Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz.

24 Responses to “Why We Sabotage Our Happiness”
  1. Linda Ryan said at 7:45 am on

    Thought-provoking, big time!
    My biggest insight into self-sabotage came while reading a book YOU recommended~ Outwitting the Devil, by Napoleon Hill. Since then, when I find myself not doing what I know I should do (or doing what I know I shouldn’t do) I find power in understanding that “the devil” does not want me to be focused and productive; the devil works his tail (pun intended) off to keep me in the 98% of people who drift. Understanding this has truly helped me to push through and JUST DO IT and the self-sabotage has decreased significantly.
    Thanks for a great post AND a great book recommendation, Bob!

  2. Bob Burg said at 8:54 am on

    My pleasure, Linda. Thank YOU. Yes, Dr. Hill’s follow-up to his classic, “Think And Grow Rich” where he uses the metaphor of the devil wanting us to sabotage ourselves makes for an excellent example. I appreciate you sharing with us!

  3. Belief is key!

    Our willingness to be open to opportunities to experience happiness hinges so often as you say Bob on what we believe we deserve or are worthy of.

    I love this quote from Maya Angelou “I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, and be an advocate for myself and others like me”.

    It is seductive to believe that we aren’t really worth that much so then when we don’t get much respect/love/success it just feels like the natural order of things and we endure it. It is far more work to believe in the skills, talents and glorious potential of every human being and then try over and over again to get life to work out like that. Problem is too many people are following a path of limiting belief that they haven’t even consciously chosen and that’s a tragic waste.

    For me: I’ve picked the hard work route….. there are low days but the high days are amazing!

  4. Dondi Scumaci said at 9:03 am on

    Excellent! Beliefs really do grow into behaviors and decisions don’t they? Over time they become the framework of our lives. Powerful message. Adversaries into Allies is a great re-framing tool!

  5. Bob Burg said at 9:29 am on

    Jackie: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom with us!

  6. Bob Burg said at 9:30 am on

    Dondi: Thank you for your thoughts and great point about beliefs/behaviors/decisions. Much appreciated! (And, of course, for your kind words about AiA.) 🙂

  7. Mary Silva said at 10:14 am on

    Many thanks, Bob. So powerful that a simple word like happiness is so thought-provoking.

    Worthiness and being deserving are what I continue to work on. Like Linda, books like TAGR, OTD and others have been game-changers for me.

    Meditation is a great tool for me as well. I recently went through Deepak’s 21 day meditation again. A dominant theme in his teachings is being worthy of happiness and abundance. On the final day, Deepak ended with many great closing thoughts including “…..As you continue on your journey, ….when you are in the silence of your heart, …. enjoy your natural desire to give, receive, and be part of the expansion of HAPPINESS across our planet.” Wow.

    As always, I am grateful for all that I have learned, and continue to learn, from you on my journey to rise above my limiting beliefs! Thanks again.

  8. Bob Burg said at 10:21 am on

    Mary: Thank you very much for sharing with us. Terrific thoughts and insights. I appreciate ya’!

  9. Our unconscious beliefs is the driver of our life if we let it, until we become in alignment and the true driver do we become happy in life. Great points, great post, and great books and resources once again. Thanks for always waking us up Bob. Have a great rest of the week everyone.

  10. Bob Burg said at 2:26 pm on

    Carly: Thank you. As always, I appreciate your always kind and encouraging words, as well as you sharing your insights and wisdom with us!

  11. Anita Casalina said at 7:08 pm on

    Great post, Bob. So many factors go into creating the total sum of how we feel about ourselves. It is often a challenge to find the origin or original cause of our beliefs which sabotage us. It does take a willingness to look deeply into our own hearts and minds. But over the years, I have seen people experience incredible epiphanies that led them to “allow” themselves to finally be happy.

    I so appreciate the way you examine how our human psyche with all of its vulnerabilities, influences our ability to be successful in life!

  12. Bob Burg said at 7:48 pm on

    Anita: Thank you for your thoughtful feedback and kind words. Very appreciated! And, the wisdom you shared with us was terrific. I love what you wrote about “‘allow’-ing themselves to finally be happy.”

  13. Jim McNerney said at 8:20 pm on

    Hi Bob,

    Excellent topic and one that affects all of us. I fully agree with you that we must believe we deserve to be happy before we are able to be happy.I also believe this is true of every other state or condition known to humankind.

    As Earl Nightingale so eloquently put it “we become what we think about”. Bob Proctor refers to it as the movie running in our subconscious mind. He also talks in-depth about our psycho-cybernetic mechanism which is our internal automatic pilot that will bring us back on course when we experience behaviors and results that are outside of our self-belief system. If we’re constantly viewing our subconscious movie and that movie tells us we deserve unhappiness, financial insecurity, poor health, obesity, etc., then that’s exactly what we will experience.

    The first step to a new and better life is becoming aware of our inner movie and how significantly it impacts our lives. Using visualization, mindfulness meditation and other tools to write, direct and star in a new, more personally rewarding movie is the key to gaining happiness, abundance, improved health and anything else we truly desire.

  14. Bob Burg said at 8:25 pm on

    Jim: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Terrific!! Right on the mark!!

  15. Mitch Jackson said at 11:14 pm on

    Another great post and reminder. Being happy sure beats the alternative!

  16. Kumar Gauraw said at 6:50 am on

    Hi Bob,

    That rounds up to the concept of believing in the unseen before it’s can be ever seen, right?

    Believe you can achieve something long before you actually can ever do it. And what you are suggesting makes sense because being in a state of happy being happy is also an achievement (a great one) and we must believe we deserve to be happy and that we, actually, can be happy before we can really be happy.

    It all begin with the belief. Love the idea. Thank you!


  17. Bob Burg said at 7:55 am on

    Mitch: Thank you. And, it sure does…doesn’t it?! 🙂

  18. Bob Burg said at 7:56 am on

    Kumar: Thank you for sharing your insights with us. I love how you put it!

  19. Bill Ellis said at 7:57 am on

    It is our beliefs that define reality. Often there is a lack of clarity as to what our beliefs are – truly are. One of the greatest tools to address that is the first session of the Go-Giver Success Accelerator where GG coaches guide people in building their own stratospheric success map (developed by Dixie ‘Dynamite’ Gillaspie btw).
    I’ve loved this series on happiness Bob. Well done and thank you.

  20. Bob Burg said at 9:43 am on

    Bill: Thank you. As always, i appreciate you sharing your wisdom with us. And, I agree about the Accelerator and “map” put together by Dixie. She did an awesome job with that!

  21. Sean O'Shea said at 10:57 am on

    Awesome stuff Bob!

    One of the things that helped me the most with overcoming worthiness issues that had me a wreck (financially/relationship wise and just about every other way!) was learning how to manufacture self-esteem/self-worth. I had had so much negative programming about who I was as a child/young adult) that it had naturally generalized into me taking over the helm and continuing the negativity as an adult. All of the negative thoughts and beliefs – whether expressed in words or deeds or just let loose internally – caused me to dislike/hate/despise much of myself, and subsequently feel worthy of very little happiness and success.

    So I went to work on changing/replacing the negative/toxic thoughts and actions with loving, kind, healthy thoughts and actions. (Wayne Dyer’s Power of Intention was instrumental in bringing my toxic state to my attention and giving me some direction to sort it out.) It took some time, but eventually, simply through continued focus, determination and practice, surrounding myself with super-positive and healthy influences, and most importantly behaving/thinking in ways that made me proud of myself, I began to manufacture some new self-esteem. Slowly that began to snowball, and with every tiny bit of increased worthiness, my life, happiness, and success began to completely overhaul. 🙂

    It’s one of those deceptively simple ones. Basically, if you’ll consistently think and act in ways that make you proud of yourself, you’ll develop better self-esteem and worthiness, and that will snowball. Not exactly an easy one, but it’s there if you’re ready. 🙂 Maybe this can help others who are stuck in the worthiness chasm.

    Thanks as always Bob for the great care and wisdom. 🙂

  22. Bob Burg said at 11:08 am on

    Sean: That’s terrific! Thank you so much for sharing your story, and for your very wise, systematic advice. I know it will help a LOT of people!

  23. Joe Filipowicz said at 6:09 am on

    Bob, one of the ways I have been able to make progress in this regard is to move past the idea that I deserve to be happy. Instead, I’m trying to simply believe happiness is my natural state. When I let myself believe I deserve it, I tend to slip into resentment when I don’t feel happy. Like I am being cheated.

    I’m far from attaining that state, but at least I am aware of my triggers! Thanks for a great post.

  24. Bob Burg said at 7:46 pm on

    Joe: Awesome. It is the natural state. And, the way you’ve framed it, any type of “entitlement mentality” is also removed. Keep working at it. Way to go!

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