If you really want to be a happy and joyful person, say goodbye to these 8 habits

Happiness and joy, my friends, can often feel elusive. But as Lachlan Brown, the founder of Hack Spirit and a mindfulness enthusiast, I can tell you it often comes down to our habits.

You see, some habits can subtly steal our joy and hinder our journey towards true happiness. Even well-intentioned ones can sometimes take a toll on our mental well-being.

The good news is, we have the power to change these habits. Casting off these joy-stealers isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

In this article, I’ll share the 8 habits you need to say goodbye to if you really want to be a happy and joyful person.

Trust me on this, I’ve learnt it the hard way!

Let’s get started. 

1) Overthinking everything

In the quest for happiness and joy, one of the biggest roadblocks is our own mind. The habit of overthinking can be a real joy-stealer.

As a mindfulness expert, I’ve seen how damaging overthinking can be. It traps us in our own thoughts, creating imaginary problems and stress that simply doesn’t need to exist.

The thing is, most of the time, overthinking doesn’t lead to any productive outcome. It just keeps us stuck in a loop of worry and anxiety.

Remember that the present moment is all we truly have. By learning to stay present and not dwell on past regrets or future anxieties, we can free ourselves from this mental trap.

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or mindful breathing, can be very helpful in breaking this habit. With time and practice, you’ll find that you’re able to let go of unproductive thoughts more easily and enjoy the present moment more fully.

2) Holding on to negativity

We all have bad days. But holding on to negative thoughts and feelings can become a habit that severely impacts our happiness.

I’ve been there myself, holding on to grudges or past mistakes, letting them cloud my present moments. But I’ve learnt that this is a habit we need to let go of if we truly want to be happy.

Buddhist monk and mindfulness expert Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.”

This quote resonates deeply with me. It underlines the importance of letting go of negative emotions, grudges, and past mistakes.

By practicing mindfulness, we can learn to acknowledge our negative emotions without letting them take over our thoughts and actions. This doesn’t mean ignoring or suppressing these feelings – it’s about being aware of them and then choosing not to dwell on them.

3) Being attached to material possessions

In our modern society, it’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of material possessions. We’re often told that the latest gadget or designer item will make us happier. But, as many of us have experienced, this isn’t usually the case.

Buddhism teaches us about the impermanence of all things and the suffering that arises from attachment. This isn’t to say that enjoying material possessions is wrong. Rather, it’s the attachment and the belief that these things are the key to our happiness that causes suffering.

The truth? Material possessions are fleeting. They can be lost, stolen, or become obsolete. Basing our happiness on these transient things is like building a house on shifting sands.

Practicing mindfulness can help us shift our focus from external objects to internal contentment. It encourages us to find joy in the simple things and cultivate a sense of gratitude for what we have.

4) Neglecting self-care

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to take care of ourselves. We often put work, responsibilities, and even other people before our own well-being.

This is a habit that can significantly hinder our happiness and joy. Neglecting self-care can lead to stress, burnout, and a host of physical and mental health problems.

Mindfulness teaches us the importance of being present within ourselves. It reminds us to tune in to our needs, both physical and emotional. It’s about acknowledging that it’s not just okay but necessary to take time for ourselves.

Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s essential for maintaining our health and happiness. Whether it’s taking a moment each day to meditate, going for a walk in nature, or simply enjoying a cup of tea, these little moments of mindfulness can make a big difference.

5) Living with a bloated ego

One habit that can really get in the way of our happiness and joy is living with a bloated ego. Ego can blind us to our own shortcomings, create conflict in our relationships, and prevent us from growing as individuals.

In my own journey, I’ve found that taming the ego is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding aspects of personal growth. It’s a constant process of self-discovery and humility.

In my book, Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego, I delve deeper into this topic and provide practical ways to reduce the influence of the ego in your life.

By learning to live with a minimum ego, we can improve our relationships, increase our self-awareness, and truly connect with others on a deeper level.

6) Avoiding discomfort

We all tend to shy away from discomfort. It’s natural. But the habit of constantly seeking comfort can actually stand in the way of our happiness and joy.

Avoiding discomfort means we’re likely avoiding growth. After all, it’s often in the uncomfortable moments that we learn the most about ourselves and the world around us.

Buddhism teaches us about the concept of “dukkha” or suffering, which is an inherent part of life. Rather than avoiding discomfort, we’re encouraged to face it head-on and learn from it.

Mindfulness allows us to sit with discomfort without reacting impulsively. It teaches us to observe our feelings without judgement, understanding that they are temporary and will pass.

Avoiding discomfort might seem like the easier path, but it often leads to stagnation. So if you want to enhance your happiness and joy, it might be worth stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while. 

7) Living in the past or future

One common habit that steals our happiness and joy is living in the past or future. Dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about future uncertainties can rob us of the peace and contentment available in the present moment.

As mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn famously said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” This quote beautifully encapsulates the essence of mindfulness – acknowledging that we can’t control everything, but we can control how we respond.

Living in the past or future prevents us from fully experiencing the present. It leads to anxiety, regret, and often, missed opportunities.

By practicing mindfulness, we can learn to focus on the here and now. It helps us to appreciate the present moment, with all its beauty and imperfections.

8) Seeking happiness externally

Here’s a counterintuitive thought: one of the habits that can hinder our happiness is the very act of seeking happiness itself. More specifically, seeking it externally.

We often look for happiness in external factors – in our jobs, relationships, or material possessions. But the truth is, these things can only provide temporary pleasure, not lasting happiness.

Mindfulness teaches us to look within for true contentment. Happiness isn’t something to be chased or attained. It’s a state of being that arises when we learn to be fully present and content with what is.

So if you really want to be a happy and joyful person, start by looking within. Cultivate mindfulness and learn to find joy in the simple pleasures of life. Remember, happiness is an inside job.


Happiness and joy are often closer than we think. It’s not about adding more to our lives, but rather about letting go of certain habits that stand in the way of our inner peace and contentment.

From overthinking to seeking happiness externally, these habits can subtly steal our joy. But remember, we have the power to change these habits. It might not be easy and it might not happen overnight, but each small step brings us closer to a happier and more joyful life.

For more insights on living with maximum impact and minimum ego, check out my book, “Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego”. It’s packed with practical tips and strategies that can help you navigate your path towards a happier and more fulfilled life.

The journey to happiness is just that – a journey. It’s about progress, not perfection. So take it one day at a time. And most importantly, be kind to yourself along the way.

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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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