18 Things Happy People Never Do (So You Shouldn’t Either)
How many of these tiny, everyday things are you doing that could be slowly destroying your happiness?
Stress over their love handles
Our culture is saturated with images of “ideal” human bodies so it’s totally understandable if the way you see your body is depressing you. But the key to feeling happy isn’t to change your body until it’s perfect (spoiler alert: there’s no such thing), but to learn to love your imperfections, says Erin Olivo, PhD, a clinical psychologist, Columbia University Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology, and author of Wise Mind Living: Master Your Emotions, Transform Your Life. “I ask all my patients to make a list of what they think makes a person valuable and worthy of love,” she says. “Appearance is almost never on that list, yet when I ask them to list the things they think make them unworthy of happiness, appearance is often the top answer.” Bottom line: Your happiness should not be dependent on your appearance. Need more? Try these unusual ways to make yourself feel happy.
Give people the silent treatment
When you’re hurting it’s natural to want to withdraw but unhappy people make a pattern of punishing others by being cold and silent. The secret to happiness? Talk! “Everyone has a fear of not being loved, but happy people learn to directly ask for (and hopefully receive) love,” says Todd Pressman, PhD, licensed psychologist, speaker, and author. “Even if you don’t get the answer you want, you will discover that your fear of not being loved is not the ‘monster’ you thought it was, and this by itself is powerfully healing.”
Make the same mistake over and over
It’s not that happy people never screw up (oh, if only that were possible!) but rather that when they do make a mistake, they learn from it and move on, says Amy Benton, social worker, life coach and owner of Thrive Life Coaching. Too many of us cling to bad habits, even if they’re making us miserable in the long run. “Letting go of past habits is a huge barrier to happiness that you need to overcome if you want to change and experience growth and joy in your life,” she says. Not sure where to start? Pick one of these 50 tiny changes that will make you a happier person today.
Be so afraid of falling that they never jump
Perfectionism and fear of failure go hand-in-hand… for miserable people, anyhow. Happy people may feel afraid of trying something new or taking a risk but they understand they have to move past the fear if they want to succeed, Benton says. Unhappy folks, on the other hand, hide behind their fear of failure and then feel proven right when they don’t reach their goals.
Procrastinate until the very last minute
Procrastinating doing something unpleasant or difficult may feel like it’s making you happy in the short run (because, hey, you’re not doing whatever it is you don’t want to do!). But happy folks don’t procrastinate, recognizing that the fleeting relief now will be overshadowed by the dread and fear of the looming deadline. Just can’t help yourself? “Commit to concentrate on doing a task for just 15 minutes after which you can take a break if you need to,” says Hoan Do, a life and success coach. But often you won’t need that break and will be able to keep on working. Or try one of these tricks every procrastinator should know.
Play the victim (even if they are)
Has someone done you wrong? Probably, it happens to all of us, but when it comes to happiness that isn’t the point, Do says. “Happy people don’t blame others, they take responsibility for themselves,” Do says. “To be happy you need to switch from a victim mindset to a creative mindset because creators have choices and power—victims don’t.”
Volunteer to be the PTA president, project manager, soccer coach, and homemade cookie baker
Are you overworked and overwhelmed? That’s a fast-track to misery and yet so many of us feel like we just can’t say no and take on way too much, Do says. “I see a lot of people who are always multitasking and think they are good at it but the truth is they often get less done overall.” Happy people focus on their priorities and what the most valuable use of their time is, Do adds. Another easy tip? Try these 10 unexpected ways to dress happier.
Weigh all opinions equally
Just because someone says it doesn’t mean you have to believe it—especially if they are talking about you! Happy people are able to identify those whose opinion and advice means the most to them and block out the rest (even if it’s well-intentioned). “Only take life advice from people you admire and would want to be in their shoes,” says Gina Marotta, life coach and founder of The Genius Guru.
Do something without asking, “Why?” first
How often do you do something simply because you’re asked to do it? Plenty of us go through life blindly, going from one “emergency” to the next without ever taking the time to figure out why it’s so important, Marotta says. “Happy people discover the deeper purpose in what they are doing and act consistent with that goal,” she explains. “When you act from a sense of higher calling, you bring an energy and joy to your work and life, even when things are tough.” You can even write your purpose down—it’s one of the 10 things happy people do daily.
Lose hope (at least not for long)
Maria Calvo Cervera/Shutterstock
When life’s storms eventually hit, you can focus on the hurricane surrounding you or you can look for the reprieve coming eventually. The former will keep you feeling trapped and beaten down while the latter will keep you moving you forward no matter what, Marotta says. “Be patient. Hang in there. Repeat to yourself ‘It will work out.’ And it will,” she adds.