10 Little Habits that Steal Your Happiness

10 Little Habits that Steal Your Happiness

You ultimately become what you repeatedly do.  If your habits aren’t helping you, they’re hurting you.  Here are a few examples of the latter that will steal your happiness if you let them:

1.  Focusing on everyone’s story except your own.

Don’t be so satisfied with the success stories of others and how things have gone for them that you forget to write your own.  Unfold your own tale and bring it to life.  You have everything you need to become what you are capable of becoming.  Incredible change happens when you decide to take control.  This means consuming less and creating more.  It means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and deciding for you.  It means learning to respect and use your own ideas and instincts to write your passage.

If you want your life story to soar to new heights, you’ve got to clear a path, reduce the time-sinks and burdens weighing you down, and pick up the things that give you wings.  Keep your best wishes and your biggest goals close to your heart and dedicate time to them every day.  If you truly care about what you do and you work diligently at it, there’s almost nothing you can’t accomplish.

2.  Waiting for the perfect moment.

Don’t buy into the myth of the perfect moment.  Moments aren’t perfect; they’re what you make them.  So many people wait around for the stars to align to do what they’re here to do.  The perfect moment, the perfect opportunity, the perfect state of being, etc.  Wake up!  These states of perfection are myths.  They do not exist.

Your ability to grow to your highest potential is directly related to your willingness to act in the face of imperfection.  You will come to succeed not by finding a perfect moment, but by learning to see and use life’s imperfections perfectly.  Read The Power of Now.

3.  Working for nothing more than a paycheck.

Work without interest is imprisonment.  Even if you aren’t super-passionate about your work, you’ve got to at least be interested in it.  When you design a lifestyle in which your work is something you suffer through daily strictly to pay your bills, you end up spending your entire life wishing you had someone else’s.

Think about it.  This is your life; your work will fill a large percentage of it.  It’s not all about the money; it’s about you.  Ignore the propaganda, especially from people who say, “Don’t let your work define you.”  Reverse this message and mediate on it:  “I will do work that defines me.”  When the essence of who you are defines at least some slice of the work you do for a living, that work generates fulfillment.

Bottom line:  Interest in your work puts quality in your output and happiness in your mind.  Don’t settle for a paycheck.  Shuffle around until you find work that interests you.

4.  Harboring feelings of hate.

As Martin Luther King Jr. so profoundly said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Truth be told, when we harbor feelings of hate, it eventually gets the best of us.  It takes control of us.  We forget why we hate, what we hate, and whom we hate – we simply hate for the sake of hating.  And then, naturally, we begin to hate ourselves too.

Everything and everyone you hate rents permanent space in both your head and heart.  So if you want to eliminate something or someone from your mind, don’t hate.  Instead, disconnect yourself, move on, and don’t look back.  Read The Mastery of Love.

5.  Holding tight to worries and fears.

Someday when you look back over your life you’ll realize that nearly all of your worries and anxious fears never came to fruition – they were completely unfounded.  So why not wake up and realize this right now.  When you look back over the last few years, how many opportunities for joy did you destroy with needless worry and negativity?  Although there’s nothing you can do about these lost joys, there’s plenty you can do about the ones that are still to come.

You will find that it’s necessary to let some things go simply for the reason that they’re heavy on your heart and soul.  Let go of them.  Don’t clamp shackles to your own ankles.  It’s incredibly easy to enjoy more of your life right now, no matter what the situation.  It’s just a matter of letting go of the layers of nonsense that are weighing you down.

Let go of your worries and fears, of your rage and jealousy, of your need to always be right and control others.  Let go of your pretentiousness and your need to have everything your way.  Underneath all these layers of nonsense there is a happy, productive person.  When you start peeling them off and simply appreciating everything for what it is, life can be wonderfully fulfilling.

6.  Dwelling on difficulties.

A bad day is just a bad day.  Choose not to make it anything more.  Times of adversity will inevitably affect the conditions in which you live and work; yet you don’t have to let it affect who you are and where you’re headed.  Take note of the setbacks and adjust to them, but don’t expand on them by making them a bigger part of your life.

Every day brings new lessons and new possibilities.  There is always a way to take the next step forward on the path you’ve chosen.  Events may be terrible and inescapable at times, but you always have choice – if not when, then how, you may endure and proceed onward.

7.  Constantly seeking fleeting contentment.

There are two variations of contentment in life – fleeting and enduring.  The fleeting type is derived from instants of material comfort, while the enduring type is attained through the gradual growth of your mind.  At a glimpse it might be difficult to decipher one from the other, but as time rolls on it becomes vividly obvious that the latter is far superior.

Enduring contentment sustains itself through life’s ups and downs, because through them your mind remains confident and at peace.  On the other hand, when life’s fleeting changes have the ability to ruffle your mind into a frenzy, even the most elaborate physical comforts won’t make you any happier for very long.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.

8. Trying to make a big difference all at once.

If you want to make a difference in the world, start with the world around you.  Making a big difference all at once is usually impossible, and the process of trying is extremely stressful.  However, instantly making a difference in a few lives is entirely possible and usually fairly easy.  You just have to focus on one person at a time and start with the one closest to you.

Work to make a bunch of small splashes, and let the ripples spread naturally.  If you want to change a person’s mind or mood, sometimes you have to change the minds or moods of the people around them first.  For instance, if you make one person smile, their smile just might make others smile too.  In this subtle way, you can touch the masses with your thoughtfulness without stressing yourself out.

9.  Holding on to someone who hurts you.

Sometimes you have to walk away from people, not because you don’t care, but because they don’t.  When someone hurts you time and time again, accept the fact that they don’t care about you.  It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s necessary medicine.  Do NOT strive to impress them any further.  Waste not another second of your time trying to prove something to them.  Nothing needs to be proven.  Do not act with any thought of them ever again.  Read 1,000 Little Things.

10.  Over-amplifying the importance of physical attractiveness.

Infatuating yourself with someone simply for what they look like on the outside is like choosing your favorite food based on color instead of taste.  It makes no sense.  It’s innate, invisible, unquantifiable characteristics that create lasting attraction.

Just as some people enjoy the smell of mint, while others prefer the scent of cinnamon, there is an undeniable, magnetic draw that attracts you to the qualities of certain people, places, and things.  Sometimes it’s even the scars your soul shares with them that reels you in and creates the very hinges that hold you together in the long run.

Photo by: Georges Petrequin


  1. says

    #9 most resonated with me too. Like @stacy @nancy and others, the toxic ppl are my parents. Walking away is still a work in progress. It is lonely. I’ve decided to put my husband and our children first. Hurts becsuse my siblings think I’m overreacting. Very difficult when s funeral or wedding comes up, like this weekend. @nancy u can “adopt”me as your daughter and my boys as your grandchildren :) baby steps, right?

  2. Elaine says

    Number 9 is important. I learned it the hard way and wish I’d known this a long time ago. Some wise person once said “Stop trying to please the haters, you’re not the jerk whisperer.”

  3. says

    #9 reminds me of a quote about holding onto hurts and resentment (living in the past moments and emotionally reliving them)… Deepak Chopra quote “Holding onto resentment is like holding your breath – you suffocate”
    Great list.
    Bernadette :)

  4. says

    Great article! All your points are of great significance, and I like that you took this approach on resolving the problems. I think by focusing on our life honestly, it helps us not react as much to what other people believe. This an important boundary. We need to understand that if we care about things that don’t have to do with us, we waste emotional and rational resources that would otherwise be used in our favor.

  5. says

    As I read this article, one thought that crossed my mind is that point #2 can also mean waiting and hoping for a miracle. Many times we want to have all things in place before we can believe that we are blessed. Most times, we are already far ahead of many and all that is needed is gratitude and a readiness to take the next step. Thanks for sharing.

  6. JL says

    Loved this! Specifically #9… I’ve recently let go of a very toxic girl in my life and it’s been a huge weight off of my shoulders…While I didn’t care to impress her at all I seemed to have only kept her in my life only because of the years of history we have together..but when I think back of all those years, I can only think of the negative things she’s done to me AND her friends…I began to realize she’s probably doing the same to me with those very friends she had nothing but negative things to nit-pick about…their bodies, their lives, their choices, etc. It was so disturbing being in her company when she did that stuff that finally I realized how horrible she is. I feel sorry for her “friends” that don’t realize how she is…but maybe they do…Such a shame to be so miserable to bring others down…and to hate on other people’s happiness because you’re so miserable with faking your “happy life”…

    • Jenny preston says

      Hi I get that but also I wonder if trying to help that person to see how they are only isolating and hurting themselves and others is also a ‘frienda’ job, underneath they may also be lonely and afraid…?JP

  7. Lori says

    Wow! Just about every one of these hit a nerve with me…it’s amazing how you don’t notice the obvious until someone points them out to you. Thank you!

  8. says

    I know so many people are going thru some tough times right now. I especially agree with #8. Trying to make a big difference all at once. Thanks for sharing!

  9. says

    There is something to be said for those who travel a high road even after they accept some of these things into their lives and see them through to positive change without throwing the baby out with the bath water…there is a lot to be said for that kind of maturity. Are we in our lives for only what we can get out of them or what we have to offer to improve the lives of others as well?

  10. Gil says

    Wonderful article. I’ve been going through stressful times, and I just realized I’ve been doing almost 7 of these habits on a daily basis ! Thanks for clearing stuff up :) Good day to you !

  11. Jasmine says

    Just like to modify #10. Over-amplifying the importance of physical attractiveness in yourself or others… I’m harder on myself for the way I look than anyone else is and way too focused on it. I would never even consider judging anyone else on their looks or pretty much anything else. Going to try to start judging myself as I judge others.

  12. says

    Great article indeed!

    I resonated with number #5 and #6, because I guess I can say I have been through some of the worst times of my life these past couple of years.

    Sometimes, it’s really hard to be hopeful, it’s hard to think positively when life has been so hard, and it’shard to even think that things can go well, just because things have been so bad.

    But it’s 2014, and I want to believe very much that things will turn around for me.

    Thanks for writing this . . . made me think!

  13. Tess says

    Hi Marc and Angel,
    I really enjoyed your blogs and I am in the habit of reading one blog a day. I also shared it with my friends. Even posted your blog links on my facebook wall.
    Thank you for sharing.


  14. Aaron says

    An interesting set of truisms which I think most people are at least vaguely aware of. For many, I feel that it has more to do with the ‘How’ of it all. A fair analogy could be that many are stuck in cruise control speeding down life’s highway and either don’t know how to disengage it or are too afraid to. But, this blog, like so many others provides a good first step of naming issues that may resonate with readers. Perhaps a follow up article on ‘how to do’ and not just ‘not to do’ would be even more useful to your readers.

    Thank you!

  15. says

    #9 “When someone hurts you time and time again, accept the fact that they don’t care about you.” Perhaps a more empathetic way of thinking about this is that some people are unskilled at loving. They can not look past their own suffering, insecurities, needs or other barriers to form healthy relationships. I agree completely that sometimes you need to walk away from people in order to preserve your own emotional health, but I don’t think it’s necessarily fair or accurate to say they don’t care. There are a few individuals in my life from whom I have had to walk away and I honestly believe they each loved me with their whole hearts, in the best way they knew how. I just couldn’t continue subjecting myself to the pain of loving them anymore.

  16. Jay says

    I have to say that number 1 is the biggest problem that humans have. Everyone at some point thinks the grass is greener on the other side, but they don’t realize that the other lawn is full of holes and dog mess. Thanks for sharing these reminders.

  17. Barbara says

    I truly enjoy these posts. I’ll be scanning down the list, nodding my head at each one, and then suddenly one will really hit home. On this list it was #5.

  18. Amar Chand Nath says

    I have studied the article three times. Wonderful and effectively life-changing. Believe me, I have been changed a lot. PLease continue to write. Thanks.

  19. Patricia P says

    All points resonated with me but especially #5. I live in fear & worry almost constantly. Fear for my children and their health, wealth & well-being, for my husband’s health, my health, our finances, our parents – just everything. I cannot find joy in anything. I feel I cannot change anything due to financial circumstances and obligations. I am working toward digging deeper, releasing the fear & worry finding gratitude for the good things in my life I am letting fear overshadow. Thank you for your inspiring messages to help me. I hope to get better each day.

  20. steven says

    I agree with Nick on number 10. What he says is true 100%. Some of us need more than others and some less than others. It depends on what is thrown at us.

  21. Mia says

    I’m really going through a rough patch right now. I have a nasty behaviour that pushes my friends away at first I tot it doesn’t matter but now I know better.the thing is I get angry easily n don’t think before I talk. I kind of feel every thing is about me. I know I’m wrong but my prob is how do I start to make amends. I don’t like my life now and I wish to change. Just don’t know how. I would love further guidance. PS: I love your articles.

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