We often hear about all the things we should be doing to lead a happier, more fulfilled life. But what about the things we should stop doing?
Believe it or not, saying no to certain things can be just as crucial for your happiness as saying yes to others.
So, let’s discuss the 10 things you really should start rejecting if you want to be truly happy in life.
You might be surprised by what you discover!
1) Saying yes to absolutely everything
Being a ‘yes’ person can be great.
In fact, we say ‘no’ so often that there’s an entire film (Yes Man) about the world of possibilities that take place if you solely decide to say yes to everything.
But, ‘yes’ is not always the best answer -especially not if you want to be happy.
Because true, you can say yes and be invited into a world of new experiences where you meet new people and try fun new things…
But you can also find yourself saying yes to chores or obligations you don’t really want to do nor feel comfortable doing, solely out of the guilt surrounding declining someone’s request.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to please everyone around us by lending them a helping hand, but that hand soon becomes our entire being as we bend over backwards to accommodate their needs, not our own.
And let me tell you, this is not only exhausting, but it’s also a surefire way to extinguish your own happiness.
So start practicing the power of saying no. Not to everything, but listen to the voice that whispers that you don’t want to go pick up your boss’ vicious poodle from the groomers – your future self will thank you for it.
2) Comparison, the thief of joy
A tricky pitfall to escape when we live in a world where having your head stuck in your phone, eyes glazed over as you watch video after video of people with ‘perfect’ lives, feeling increasingly dissatisfied with your own.
Constantly comparing yourself to other people – whether via appearance, career path, finances, or happiness – it’s just a toxic habit that breeds insecurity and discontentment.
Everyone is on their own unique journey, having started out at different goalposts and on different paths altogether.
So embrace your individuality and shun the comparison.
Focus on your own growth, accomplishments, and the person you’re becoming. You’ll do far more to nurture your own growth when you feed it rather than chide it for not matching someone’s heavily filtered and rehearsed facade.
3) Chasing perfection
Maybe you’re still in that mindset where you believe that striving for perfection will lead to happiness, but I’ll let you in on a lil’ secret…
In fact, the pursuit of perfection quite contrarily prevents most fulfillment and enjoyment life can bring.
Imagine if everyone reached that state of perfection.
We’d all look identically glossed and groomed and preened, we’d all tell the exact same jokes so would get bored very quickly, and we’d all chase the very same goals.
Copy and paste over again in a bleak world where everything is identical.
It is ‘imperfections’ or divergences that stand out, that we notice and appreciate and that we often find the most joy and growth.
You might not think so now, but the way your nose scrunches when you laugh makes so many people light up (as much as you hate it).
And your weird obsession with eating frozen apples sends your housemates spinning – in a good way. They like your quirkiness.
And as much as your parents chide you for sleeping in, they secretly love their moody mornings with what is akin to a bear woken early from hibernation. They’d have it no other way.
So, instead of chasing an unattainable ideal, say no to perfection and work on embracing your flaws and quirks. It’ll be tricky, but it is most definitely a necessity on the path to happiness.
4) Holding onto grudges
Having been wronged, the tendency to cling to the resentment and feel all embittered and salty is a common feeling.
But, try as much as you can to forgive. And to forget. Not just one or the other.
Holding onto grudges weighs heavily on your heart and prevents you from moving forward.
And this counts for both when you’ve apologized, or when you’ve parted ways and never talk anymore.
You don’t have to forgive someone nor accept their presence if they have truly hurt you.
But accept that you’re not condoning the actions of those who wronged you by releasing these grudges.
No, quite the opposite; you’re freeing yourself from the chains of bitterness and resentment and making room for far more peace and happiness.
5) Neglecting self-care
My focus on self-care tends to swing from one side to the other.
It’s a bit all-or-nothing, which is hardly healthy.
Either I’m avoiding social events because I want to get beauty sleep in, or I’m not drinking water or remembering to wear SPF because I’m so busy I have to shoot out the door in a hurry.
Everything in moderation, people.
In our busy, fast-paced lives, it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves.
But one of my personal trainer friends gave me the most apt metaphor for life and stress and self-care.
If your capacity to cope is like a cup, it fills up with stress. Work stress. Personal life stress. Lack of sleep. Too many takeaways.
At some point, the cup hits overflow and you can’t cope anymore.
However, by weaving in self-care such as mindfulness, your favorite hobbies, family time, good nutrition etc., you’re keeping the liquid in that cup hovering at a healthy level.
Neglecting your own needs can lead to burnout and unhappiness.
Hence why you should always make time for even a smidge of self-care rather than tossing it out the window when times get busy.
6) Overloading your schedule
Our hustle-bustle culture shakes you hard and tells you to work harder, sleep less, rise at 4am and do HIIT, back-to-back meetings.
You can sleep when you die.
Cramming too many tasks into one day can lead to stress and burnout, and ultimately, it can rob you of your happiness.
That cup is constantly overflowing as you teeter between exhaustion and breakdown, and there is certainly no room for happiness.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, allocating off-days where you can do absolutely nothing (which you might have to get used to) frees up time for your body to relax and your mind to wade into happiness.
So, give yourself permission to slow down and focus on what truly matters, and make time for those moments of peace and quiet.
7) Ignoring your emotions
We also put a lot of (silence) focus on repression when it comes to our emotional states.
Especially following on from the above, when we refuse to allow ourselves a moment’s rest, so very literally don’t have the time to feel our feelings.
You’re so busy running from a pilates class to work to pick up your kids to get your laundry, that your mind cannot get a foot in edgeways to flag up the fact that your anxiety is starting to rise.
True, mental health matters are gaining more awareness, but we still have a long way to go.
One of the most tender things you need to stop doing to find true happiness is ignoring your emotions.
And it is so okay to feel sad, anxious, or angry. These emotions don’t make you weak; they make you human.
The above doesn’t mean a free pass to start yelling at every passerby, but rather allowing yourself to feel healthy anger or sadness or glee, and to accept every tangible element of those emotions.
The more you embrace your feelings, the more vivid happiness will also feel when it comes your way.
8) Living in the past or future
Rerunning memories of the past like old film tapes can be very addictive.
Yet, happiness is often stolen by lingering in the past or obsessing over the future.
You can’t truly experience emotions in either as you’re not there. You’re here. Right now. In the present.
You can’t change what happened yesterday and you can’t predict what will happen tomorrow.
But what you do have is today.
By saying no to living in the past or future, you’re allowing yourself to experience the beauty of now.
So keep the memories, but categorize them away for later use, and shun the worries about the future for when the future actually comes knocking.
Neither applies right now, and the best thing you can do for your happiness is to focus on the present.
9) Settling for less
Settling for less than you deserve is an absolute no-go.
Whether it’s in your relationships, career, or personal goals, settling can leave you feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.
And whilst we’ve covered the fact that perfection doesn’t exist, so there will be no absolutely perfect partner nor job, you will know when something isn’t right for you.
So stop barking up those trees out of complacency or a fear of the unknown.
By saying no to settling, you’re opening up far greater opportunities for joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction in your life.
10) Neglecting your dreams and passions
To wrap things up, if you want to be happy, don’t sideline your dreams, your passions, and your calling.
It’s far too easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget what truly ignites your spirit.
Or, to ignore what sets your soul on fire because you’re too focused on someone else’s fire…
Be realistic, but go after what calls you.
You’ll regret not having tried far more than having given it a go and seen where the universe takes you.