If you really want to live a joyful life, start saying no to these 9 things

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There’s a profound distinction between existing and truly living.

The key lies in choice. Simply existing often involves saying ‘yes’ to things that don’t serve us – whether it’s people, habits, or mindsets – all while neglecting our genuine needs and desires.

Choosing to truly live, however, means being brave enough to say ‘no’ to things that drain our joy and energy. It’s about having the courage to prioritize your happiness and well-being, even when it’s tough.

Living a joyful life isn’t about never facing challenges or difficulties. It’s about consciously choosing what’s worth your time and energy.

And believe it or not, there are certain things you should start saying ‘no’ to if you want a more fulfilling life.

Let me share with you the nine things you need to start declining if you genuinely want to live a joyful life.

1) The need for constant approval

The pursuit of constant approval is a trap many of us fall into.

This is especially true in today’s world, where social media enables us to constantly seek validation from others. Whether it’s the number of likes, shares, or comments, we’ve become increasingly dependent on what others think of us.

However, seeking constant approval can quickly drain your joy. It’s like being on an endless treadmill, always chasing after validation and never feeling truly fulfilled.

When you tie your happiness to others’ opinions, you give away your power and let others dictate how you feel about yourself. This can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions, where your self-esteem fluctuates based on how much approval you’re getting.

To truly live a joyful life, start saying no to the need for constant approval. Remember that your worth isn’t determined by what others think of you. It’s about how you see yourself and living in line with your values and beliefs.

Choose to prioritize your self-esteem and wellbeing over the need for approval. It might be challenging at first, but it’s an essential step towards living a more joyful life.

2) Fear of failure

This one hits close to home. For the longest time, I was petrified of failing.

I remember back in college, there was this one course that had always intrigued me – Creative Writing. But I was so scared that I wouldn’t be good enough, that my stories wouldn’t be captivating or original enough, so I never took the class.

The fear of failure kept me from exploring something I was genuinely interested in. Today, I realize that by letting my fear dictate my decisions, I was robbing myself of potential growth and joy.

Fear of failure can be paralyzing. It stops us from trying new things, taking risks, and stepping out of our comfort zones. But here’s the thing – failure is not a reflection of your worth. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow.

If you really want to live a joyful life, start saying no to the fear of failure. Embrace it as a part of life and a stepping stone to success.

It’s better to try and fail than never to try at all.

3) Living in the past

Time travel might be a fascinating concept in science fiction, but in real life, dwelling in the past can rob us of our joy.

Studies have shown that individuals who frequently engage in nostalgic reminiscing can experience higher levels of anxiety and depression. This is because constantly replaying past events, especially negative ones, can lead to a cycle of self-blame and regret.

Choosing to live in the ‘now’ instead of dwelling on the ‘what ifs’ and ‘should haves’ of the past can free up so much mental energy. It allows us to fully engage with our present experiences and look forward to future possibilities.

Start saying no to living in the past and unleash the joy that comes from embracing the present moment.

We can’t change what has happened, but we do have control over how we react and what we do moving forward.

4) Perfectionism

Striving for excellence is admirable, but when it turns into an obsession for perfection, it can be detrimental to our joy and overall well-being.

Perfectionism can lead us down a rabbit hole of endless tweaks, revisions, and dissatisfaction. It’s a never-ending cycle where nothing ever seems good enough, causing unnecessary stress and anxiety.

What’s worse, it can hinder us from taking action because we’re too caught up in making everything perfect. It can stifle creativity and hinder progress.

Start saying no to perfectionism. Embrace the beauty of imperfection and understand that mistakes and flaws are part of the human experience. They’re opportunities for learning and growth, not signs of inadequacy.

Life isn’t about achieving perfection. It’s about progress, enjoying the journey, and celebrating our victories along the way – no matter how small they might seem.

5) Comparison

We’ve all heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and it couldn’t be more accurate.

In a world where everyone’s highlight reel is on display through social media, it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. But comparing our lives, achievements, and even our struggles with others can sap our joy and breed feelings of inadequacy.

What we often forget is that each person’s journey is unique. We all have different backgrounds, experiences, and paths to tread. Our individual journeys can’t be accurately measured against someone else’s.

Start saying no to comparison. Instead, focus on your own growth and progress. Celebrate your wins, learn from your setbacks, and most importantly, be kind to yourself.

The only person you should be comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday. Make it a goal to be a better version of yourself each day. That’s where true joy lies.

6) Neglecting self-care

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. There are always tasks to complete, errands to run, and deadlines to meet. Amid all this, we often forget to take care of ourselves.

But here’s the hard truth: neglecting self-care can quickly drain your joy. When you’re running on empty, even the smallest tasks can seem overwhelming, and it becomes hard to find joy in anything.

Here’s something I’ve learned over the years – taking care of yourself is not selfish; it’s necessary. It’s about giving yourself the same kindness and care that you so freely give to others.

Start saying no to neglecting self-care. Whether it’s setting aside time for a hobby you love, practicing mindfulness, or simply getting enough sleep, make self-care a priority.

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Only by taking care of yourself can you truly live a joyful life.

7) Overcommitting

I used to be the kind of person who would say ‘yes’ to everything. I thought that by taking on more tasks and responsibilities, I was proving my worth. But all it did was leave me feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

Overcommitting is a surefire way to drain your joy. When you’re juggling too many things at once, it’s hard to find time for yourself or the things that genuinely bring you happiness.

Start saying no to overcommitting. Understand that it’s okay to say ‘no’ sometimes. You don’t have to take on everything that comes your way.

Your time and energy are precious. Use them wisely and invest them in activities and responsibilities that align with your values and bring you joy.

8) Negativity

Negativity can be incredibly draining. Whether it’s negative thoughts, negative people, or negative environments, they can all take a toll on your joy and overall well-being.

Negative thoughts, in particular, can be damaging. They can distort your perception of reality, making everything seem worse than it actually is. They can also create unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Start saying no to negativity. Try to cultivate a positive mindset and surround yourself with positive influences. It might not be easy, especially during challenging times, but it’s an essential step towards living a joyful life.

Positivity breeds joy. By focusing on the good in your life and maintaining an optimistic outlook, you’re paving the way for a more joyful existence.

9) Ignoring your passions

Ignoring your passions is like denying a part of who you are. Your passions are what make you unique, they’re what ignite your soul and fill your life with joy.

Whether it’s painting, writing, gardening, or exploring new places, your passions are there for a reason. They’re not just hobbies or pastimes; they’re a reflection of what you love and what brings you happiness.

Start saying no to ignoring your passions. Make time for them, nurture them, let them grow. They’re an essential part of living a joyful life.

Remember, your passions are not insignificant. They’re the sparks that light up your life. Honor them, cherish them, and let them guide you towards a life filled with joy.

Final thoughts: It’s a choice

The journey to living a joyful life is deeply personal and unique to each individual. It’s not about following a prescribed set of rules or fitting into a specific mold.

It’s about making conscious choices – choices that align with your values, priorities, and what truly brings you joy. It’s about saying no to things that don’t serve us and saying yes to things that do.

Each of the points we’ve discussed is not just a habit or mindset to let go of; they’re choices we make, consciously or unconsciously, every day. Choices that can make the difference between merely existing and truly living.

Whether it’s saying no to the need for constant approval, fear of failure, living in the past, perfectionism, comparison, neglecting self-care, overcommitting, negativity, or ignoring your passions – remember that it’s your choice.

It might not be an easy journey. There will be challenges and setbacks. But with each choice you make towards joy, you’re taking a step towards a life filled with happiness and fulfillment.

After all, living a joyful life isn’t just about the destination; it’s about the journey and the choices we make 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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