If you want to be a happier person, stop saying “yes” to these 10 things

Are you the type who’s well-liked by many of the people you know? If so, I’m willing to bet that you’re an agreeable person. 

And that’s not surprising. Being agreeable is such a valuable personality trait because it goes a long way in smoothing things over and keeping the peace. 

But – how happy are you, really? 

Is there a part of you that feels a little constrained? Obligated? Stretched too thin? 

You might be saying “yes” to things you shouldn’t. 

You see, when it comes to happiness, balance is a big deal. We want to be agreeable, but not at the expense of our own well-being. 

Here’s a list of 10 things you should stop saying “yes” to if you want to be happier: 

1) Every single social commitment

First, let’s take a look at your calendar. Is it packed with lunches, dinners, coffee dates, baby showers, birthday parties, and the like? 

You might be saying “yes” to every invitation you get. Whether that’s due to fear of offending the person who invited you or an ever-present FOMO, that’s not as healthy as you think. 

Sometimes, overcommitting socially leaves us drained and stretched thin. Having a vibrant social life is important, sure, but so is your downtime. 

In my experience, getting picky about the events I attend have really made me feel so much more balanced. And as a consequence, happier.

When I started declining invites to parties by folks I wasn’t really close to, I had more energy for those who did mean more to me. 

So, my advice to you is to choose quality over quantity, just like how you should choose your circle. 

2) Extra work you can’t really handle

This one’s really tricky. On one hand, taking on extra work does earn you points, and who knows, maybe line you up for promotion. Everyone will see how capable and competent you are. 

On the other hand, it’s a surefire way to get stressed. And let’s face it, that promotion isn’t even guaranteed!

It could all come down to nothing and simply earn you the title of “office doormat.” 

I learned this the hard way. I would say yes to every coworker who passed on their tasks to me. 

Pretty soon, I was feeling resentful. In the back of my mind, this thought was running – “How come they could do that?!?”

Well…because I let them. I really couldn’t blame anyone else.

Simply put, I had to learn how to say no. Otherwise, I’d still be in that office, still taking on other people’s work. 

3) The need to please others

Those two points above all come from one place – the need to keep other people happy

Maybe you want a quiet night in, but your partner wants to go out, so you dress up for a night on the town, while wishing you were in your pajamas. 

Maybe your boss wants you to answer his calls during your personal time, so you do. 

Look, pleasing other people isn’t an entirely horrible idea. It does pay to make our loved ones and professional contacts feel cared for if we want healthy relationships. 

But – once again, the key here is balance. 

Think of it this way: why do their needs matter more than yours? Why does yours have to take a backseat all the time?

Until you learn how to fill your own cup, you can’t really be happy.  

4) Instant gratification

Now, while I advise you to fill your own cup, I’d like to caution you against instant gratification. 

Maybe you want to feel good right now, so you hop on social media and post a photo you’re sure will get tons of likes. 

Or you get on Amazon for some mindless online shopping. Or on Bumble for an instant date (and maybe a hookup).

Quick fixes and immediate results have become the norm these days, thanks to so many things that make it possible. The internet has seen to that. 

But I think that there’s real value in taking the time to savor a process. 

For instance, going to the gym to get a workout in. Learning a new skill or hobby. Meeting someone offline and building a real, meaningful relationship. 

Putting in the work fills your cup in a different way – more lasting, more satisfying, more fulfilling. You’ll definitely feel happier

5) Consumerist culture

Speaking of online shopping brings me to this next point – materialism

I totally understand the rush of buying something new. That dress you’ve been eyeing for a while, a new phone, a new car…these can certainly spark joy. 

But not for long. 

A University of Texas study shows that people are happier when they spend on experiences than material things. 

What’s more, engaging in consumerist culture means that there will always be a sense of wanting more, more, more. 

It never ends because the more we engage in it, the more we unconsciously tie our self-worth to our possessions. 

In short, consumerist culture says, “If we stop having, we stop being.”

6) Comparing yourself to others

This is strongly linked to my point above. All too often, measuring ourselves against other people is what pushes us to buy more and buy better. 

But think about it: what exactly do they have to do with your happiness? 

The answer: zero. 

The people you’re comparing yourself to likely aren’t even aware you’re doing so. 

In the end, they’ll go on living their lives while you’re stuck in a cycle of feeling less than. 

If you want to be happier, stop saying “yes” to comparisons. Celebrate yourself, no matter whatever else happens around you. 

7) Overstimulation

Let me tell you a quick story here. A cautionary tale against overstimulation. 

Before the internet came along, I was a porch-sitter. I loved sitting out on my porch, sometimes reading a book, sometimes just watching the people who walked by or the insects flitting about my garden. 

Then, when smartphones became really “smart”, I got hooked. Forget porch-sitting, I was suddenly glued to my phone, watching reel after reel, or episode after episode on Netflix. 

On the surface, that seemed harmless. Who was I hurting, after all? 

Turns out, I was hurting me. Specifically, my own chances at happiness. 

That loop of constant stimulation shortened my attention span. I found it harder to focus, which meant I needed to exert more effort to do my job. 

Which meant I was getting more exhausted than I needed to be. 

Once I recognized that, I became more intentional about including quiet, unplugged moments back in my days. I’m spending more time on the porch again, and believe me, I feel so much happier and content. 

8) Perfectionism

Another habit that gets in the way of happiness is perfectionism

It’s one thing to strive for excellence. It’s another thing to obsess over getting it done “just right”. 

Because what exactly is “just right”?  For a perfectionist, there’s no end in sight, really. 

Learn how to stop saying “yes” to the pursuit of perfection. If you ask me, the more worthy goal is progress. 

When you say “yes” to progress, you’re saying goodbye to constant dissatisfaction and stress! 

9) Other people’s crappy behavior 

Disrespect. Dishonesty. Excessive criticism. Guilt and manipulation. I could go on and on about the many ways people behave badly

On the surface, it might seem more “peaceful” to just let things slide. After all, to speak up is to stir up conflict. 

But you know what? People will treat you with the behavior you say “yes” to. 

Every time you let those incidents slide, you’re telling them it’s okay to treat you badly. And sure, things might seem peaceful and free of conflict. But I’m 100% sure you won’t be happy deep inside.

10) Negative self-talk

Finally, I want to end with one of the top things we allow that do us a lot of damage. Talking down to ourselves. 

I’m no stranger to this myself. I’d be the first to say, “You’re so stupid!” or “You never get anything right!” whenever I made a mistake. 

I think that if we’re talking about happiness, our inner voice is the one that makes the most impact. 

Negative self-talk increases our stress levels and pushes our self-esteem down. In contrast, positive self-talk, as research shows, is a key to emotional wellness.  

So, stop agreeing with your inner critic. Say “yes” instead to your inner best friend, the one who says, “It’s okay, you can learn from your mistakes and do better next time.” 

Final word

There’s no getting around it – happiness is an inside job. So, the first step, as with any attempt at self-improvement, is self-reflection. 

Think about what you’re saying “yes” to and if they’re really adding value to your life. 

Use your powers of discernment, and you can achieve the balance necessary to be happy

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