If you can’t remember the last time you felt truly happy, say goodbye to these 8 habits

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Happiness. We all chase it, but many of us can’t remember the last time we felt truly joyful.

Often, certain habits stand in our way, casting a shadow over our potential happiness.

As Lachlan Brown, founder of Hack Spirit and a mindfulness expert, I’ve discovered 8 habits that frequently trip people up on their journey to joy.

In this article, I’m going to share these with you. Not to point fingers or lay blame, but to help guide you towards letting go of these happiness hurdles.

Remember, it’s your life and your choices. But sometimes, a little direction can make all the difference.

1) Living in the past or future

A common barrier to happiness is getting stuck in the past or fretting about the future. And I’ve seen this countless times in my mindfulness practice.

We all have regrets and worries. But when we dwell on them, we end up missing the joy of the present moment.

This habit of living outside of the now can be a real happiness thief. It keeps us from appreciating what we have and who we are in this very moment.

Remember, the past is gone and the future isn’t promised. The only time we truly have is right now.

By practicing mindfulness, we can learn to live in and appreciate the present, boosting our overall happiness.

If you find yourself constantly reliving past mistakes or worrying about future uncertainties, it may be time to let go of this habit. Instead, try to live in the present moment, because that’s where true happiness lies.

2) Comparing yourself to others

In my journey through mindfulness and Buddhism, I’ve learned that comparison is a quick route to dissatisfaction.

When we compare ourselves to others, we’re setting ourselves up for unhappiness. There will always be someone who seems more successful, more attractive, or more accomplished.

As the famous Buddhist teacher and author, Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.”

In other words, don’t let your happiness hinge on how you stack up against others. Your journey is your own and it’s unique. Embrace it.

If you find yourself constantly comparing your life to others’, it might be time to say goodbye to this habit. Instead, focus on your own growth and progress. That’s where genuine satisfaction and happiness come from.

3) Clinging to material possessions

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, we often equate happiness with material possessions. The latest gadget, the newest car, the designer bag. But does owning these things bring real, lasting happiness?

Buddhist wisdom says no. In fact, it teaches that attachment to material possessions is a source of suffering.

Why? Because things don’t last. They break, they get lost, they go out of style. And when they do, our happiness—tied up as it is in these things—crumbles.

Let’s be raw and honest here. Material possessions can bring momentary pleasure, but they are not a source of lasting happiness.

If you’re clinging to material possessions for your happiness, it’s time to rethink. True happiness comes from within—from peace of mind, fulfilling relationships, and meaningful experiences—not from what you own.

4) Constantly seeking approval

Let’s get real here. Are you always seeking validation and approval from others? If so, this habit could be blocking your path to true happiness.

Mindfulness teaches us to cultivate a sense of self-approval. It encourages us to be aware of our thoughts and feelings without judgement – to accept ourselves as we are.

Constantly seeking approval from others means you’re letting them define your worth. This can lead to a never-ending cycle of self-doubt and unhappiness.

The truth is, you don’t need anyone else’s approval to be happy or to feel worthy. Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.

If you find yourself constantly seeking validation from others, it’s time to let go of this habit and start practicing self-acceptance.

True happiness comes from within.

5) Letting your ego run the show

This one is a biggie. I’ve often noticed in my own life, and from talking to my readers, that when our ego is in the driver’s seat, happiness takes a backseat.

Our ego wants to be right all the time, it wants to be the best, and it’s incredibly afraid of failure. And this can lead us to act in ways that are out of alignment with our true selves.

In my book, Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego, I delve into how Buddhist teachings can help us wrestle control from our ego and live more authentically.

When we let go of our need for approval, for control, and for perfection, we can find peace and happiness within ourselves.

If you notice your ego is controlling your life, it might be time to say goodbye to this habit. Instead, strive for authenticity and self-awareness. True happiness comes from living in alignment with your true self, not your ego.

6) Neglecting self-care

This is a tough one. In our busy lives, we often put ourselves at the bottom of our to-do list. We neglect our own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, thinking we’re being selfless. But is this truly the path to happiness?

Buddhist and mindfulness teachings tell us that self-care isn’t selfish; it’s necessary.

It’s raw, it’s honest, and it’s true: You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re constantly running on empty, giving your time and energy to everyone else without replenishing your own reserves, you’re setting yourself up for burnout and unhappiness.

If you’re neglecting self-care in the name of selflessness, it’s time to reevaluate this habit. Make time for rest, for hobbies you love, for nourishing your body with good food and exercise. Remember, a happier you makes a happier world.

7) Holding onto resentment

Let’s face it, holding onto resentment and grudges is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. It’s a heavy burden that only serves to make us unhappy.

The renowned Buddhist monk, Ajahn Chah, once said, “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Harbouring resentment doesn’t hurt the person who wronged you; it hurts you. It robs you of peace and happiness.

If you’re holding onto grudges and resentment, it’s time to let go. It’s not about forgetting what happened or letting someone off the hook. It’s about freeing yourself from the burden of bitterness and finding peace within yourself. That’s where true happiness lies.

8) Chasing happiness

This might seem counterintuitive. After all, isn’t the goal to be happy? But here’s the thing: the more we chase happiness, the more it can elude us.

Mindfulness teaches us to live in the present moment, to embrace what is. When we’re constantly chasing happiness, we’re essentially saying that our current state isn’t enough. We’re living in the future, not in the now.

Ironically, by chasing happiness, we may be pushing it further away. Instead of seeking happiness, mindfulness encourages us to cultivate a sense of contentment and peace in our present circumstances.

If you’re always on the hunt for happiness, perhaps it’s time to let go of this chase. Try focusing on the present moment and finding joy in the here and now. You might be surprised to discover that happiness has been there all along.


In conclusion, letting go of these eight habits could be your ticket to rediscovering happiness. It won’t always be easy, but remember that growth often happens outside of our comfort zone.

Just as a lotus flower grows through mud to reach the surface, we too must work through our challenges to find our inner light and happiness.

If you’re interested in exploring this further, consider checking out my book, Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego. It delves deeper into many of these topics and offers practical tips on how to apply Buddhist teachings in everyday life.

Remember, true happiness comes from within. Letting go of these habits is just the beginning of your journey towards inner peace and joy.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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