There’s a stark contrast between simply existing and truly living happily.
This distinction often boils down to our behavior. Engaging in certain behaviors can trap us in a cycle of unhappiness, while we remain oblivious to their true impact.
Avoiding these behaviors, however, can set us on a path towards happiness. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
In this article, I’ll be sharing 9 behaviors that you should consciously avoid. Steering clear of these habits could just be the key to unlocking a happier existence for yourself.
1) Wallowing in negativity
Negativity is a trap that’s easy to fall into, but incredibly difficult to climb out of. And it’s a major barrier on your path to happiness.
Now, we all have our off days. Days when everything seems to go wrong and the world feels like it’s against us. It’s perfectly human to feel down during these times.
But there’s a difference between experiencing negative emotions and wallowing in them.
Allowing yourself to stay stuck in a cycle of negative thinking can lead to unhappiness becoming your default state. This can make the world seem like a much darker place than it really is.
Avoiding this behavior doesn’t mean ignoring your feelings. Quite the contrary, it means acknowledging them, allowing yourself to feel them, and then consciously choosing to let them go.
By refusing to wallow in negativity, you create room for positivity and happiness to enter your life. And trust me, they will, if you just give them a chance.
2) Holding onto grudges
This one hits close to home for me. I was once a master at holding grudges. Someone would wrong me, and I’d hold onto that hurt and resentment for ages.
It felt like I was punishing them by keeping that grudge alive, but the person it hurt the most was me. I was the one carrying around that heavy burden of bitterness and resentment, not them.
This is a behavior I’ve learned to let go of, and my life has been so much lighter and happier for it.
When we hold onto grudges, we’re essentially allowing past hurts to control our present happiness. It’s like voluntarily chaining ourselves to a past that we can’t change, instead of moving forward towards a better future.
Letting go of grudges doesn’t mean forgetting what happened or condoning someone else’s wrong actions.
It simply means choosing your own peace and happiness over lingering resentment.
3) Overcomplicating life
Life, by its very nature, can be messy and complicated. But sometimes, we make it more complicated than it needs to be.
We set unrealistic expectations for ourselves, take on too many responsibilities, or obsess over minor details. This constant striving for perfection and control can lead to stress, anxiety, and ultimately, unhappiness.
A study found that people who are able to accept life’s uncertainties and go with the flow are generally happier than those who struggle to do so.
Letting go of the need for control and perfection doesn’t mean giving up or living a careless life. It means understanding that life is unpredictable and that’s okay. It’s about focusing on what truly matters, and letting go of the rest.
By simplifying your life and learning to roll with the punches, you’ll find that happiness comes a lot easier.
4) Constantly comparing yourself to others
In this age of social media and constant connectivity, it’s easier than ever to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. We see their highlight reels – the vacations, the promotions, the perfect families – and we feel inadequate in comparison.
But here’s the thing: comparison is a thief of joy.
It makes us lose sight of our own achievements and strengths, and keeps us constantly striving for an ideal that may not even be real.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your own journey. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they might seem in comparison to others.
By letting go of comparisons and embracing your own unique journey, you’ll find that happiness is much closer than you think.
5) Ignoring self-care
Self-care is an essential part of a happy life, yet it’s something many of us tend to ignore. We get so caught up in taking care of others and meeting external obligations that we forget to take care of ourselves.
Self-care isn’t about being selfish or indulgent. It’s about acknowledging that you, too, have needs and that it’s okay to prioritize them. This includes physical needs like healthy eating and exercise, but also mental and emotional needs like setting boundaries and taking time to relax and unwind.
Ignoring self-care can lead to burnout, stress, and unhappiness.
But by making self-care a regular part of your routine, you’ll not only feel better physically, but you’ll also be more emotionally equipped to handle whatever life throws at you.
6) Not expressing gratitude
Sometimes, we get so focused on what we don’t have or what’s going wrong in our lives that we forget to appreciate what we do have. This is a surefire way to invite unhappiness.
But there’s a simple remedy for this: expressing gratitude.
When you take time each day to reflect on the things you’re grateful for, it shifts your focus from what’s lacking in your life to what’s abundant. It allows you to see the world from a perspective of appreciation and positivity, which naturally invites happiness.
This isn’t just a feel-good idea, either. Numerous studies have shown that practicing gratitude can significantly increase your happiness.
So whether you start a gratitude journal, make it a point to say thank you more often, or simply take a moment each day to reflect on what you’re thankful for, expressing gratitude is a powerful way to invite more happiness into your life.
7) Avoiding change
Change can be scary. It involves stepping out of our comfort zones and venturing into the unknown.
I remember a time when I was so afraid of change that I stayed in a job I hated, simply because it was familiar.
But here’s what I’ve learned: avoiding change only leads to stagnation and unhappiness. On the other hand, embracing change, even when it’s scary, is often the key to growth and happiness.
You see, change is a natural part of life. It’s how we learn, grow, and evolve. And while it can be uncomfortable at times, it’s also an opportunity for us to discover new things about ourselves and the world around us.
So don’t shy away from change. Embrace it. It might just lead you to a happiness you never knew was possible.
Overthinking is a common behavior that can quickly rob us of our happiness.
It’s when we get stuck in our thoughts, analyzing, replaying, or obsessing over situations, often creating problems that weren’t there in the first place.
Not only does overthinking steal our peace of mind, but it also prevents us from taking action and moving forward.
The key to overcoming overthinking is mindfulness – being present in the moment, rather than getting lost in your thoughts.
Remember, the world is not as scary as your mind can make it seem. By letting go of overthinking and focusing on the present moment, you’ll find that happiness is much easier to come by.
9) Living for others’ expectations
One of the most liberating things you can do for your happiness is to stop living for others’ expectations.
Too often, we make choices based on what we think others expect of us, rather than what truly makes us happy. We choose careers, relationships, and even hobbies based on what we believe will earn us approval or admiration from others.
But happiness doesn’t come from meeting others’ expectations. It comes from being true to yourself, from pursuing your own passions and dreams, and from living a life that feels authentic to you.
So let go of the need to please everyone else. Start making choices that align with your own values and desires.
You’ll find that when you start living for yourself, happiness naturally follows.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.