9 habits you must break if you want to become a happier person

We all aspire to be happy, yet sometimes our own habits serve as roadblocks standing in our way.

You might look at your life and find it challenging to identify the patterns that are keeping you from feeling joy, or wonder if what you’re experiencing is just a part of life’s natural ebb and flow.

How can you distinguish between harmful habits and the regular challenges that everyone faces?

After spending time analyzing my own habits and those of people around me, I’ve identified 9 critical behaviors that can significantly hinder your happiness.

If these sound familiar, it might be time to tackle them head-on.

1. Constant Negativity

It begins subtly, a pessimistic comment here, a cynical thought there.

But before you know it, you’re trapped in a cycle of constant negativity. It’s like wearing a pair of gloomy glasses that taints everything you see.

This habit can be incredibly destructive to your happiness.

It prevents you from seeing the beauty in life, focusing instead on everything that’s wrong or could go wrong.

It’s often easier to dwell on the negative aspects of our lives rather than embracing the positive ones.

Breaking this habit isn’t about ignoring life’s challenges or pretending they don’t exist.

Instead, it’s about shifting your perspective to focus more on the positives and less on the negatives.

It’s about learning to see the silver lining in every cloud and cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

If you find yourself constantly expecting the worst, criticizing yourself or others incessantly, or feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate.

Breaking the cycle of negativity can be challenging but remember, every journey begins with a single step.

And in this case, that step is acknowledging the problem and making a conscious decision to change.

2. Overthinking

Overthinking is a habit many of us are guilty of, and it can be a silent killer of happiness.

It involves ruminating on problems or events, often blowing them out of proportion and imagining worst-case scenarios.

This constant mental replay can create anxiety, stress, and prevent us from taking action.

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a loop of ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’? Have you spent hours analyzing a situation, only to end up more confused and worried than before?

If so, you might be an overthinker.

Overcoming this habit requires practicing mindfulness and learning to live in the present moment.

It involves recognizing when your mind starts spiraling into an overthinking pattern and consciously choosing to redirect your thoughts.

Remember, it’s not about controlling every thought that comes into your head. It’s about not letting those thoughts control you.

So the next time you catch yourself overthinking, take a deep breath, remind yourself that these are just thoughts, not reality, and focus on something positive or productive instead.

3. Perfectionism

I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. I used to think it was a good thing, a sign of my commitment to doing well.

But over time, I realized that my desire for everything to be ‘perfect’ was actually harming my happiness.

Perfectionism can lead to excessive stress, procrastination, and a constant feeling of inadequacy.

No matter how well you do, there’s always that nagging thought that you could have done better.

It can rob you of the joy and satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something, because you’re too focused on the flaws and what you didn’t achieve.

I remember working on a project for weeks and when it was finally done, instead of feeling proud of what I had accomplished, I was consumed by the things I thought I could have done better.

It took a toll on my mental health and my happiness.

Breaking free from perfectionism involves embracing the fact that nobody is perfect, and that’s okay. It’s about learning to appreciate progress over perfection and celebrating small victories.

It’s also about understanding that making mistakes is a natural part of life and an opportunity for growth, rather than something to be feared or avoided.

If you find yourself constantly striving for perfection and never feeling satisfied with your accomplishments, it might be time to reassess.

Remember, perfection is not the key to happiness; acceptance is.

4. Living in the Past or Future

The human mind has a knack for time travel; it loves to dwell on past mistakes or future uncertainties.

This habit of constantly living in the past or future can seriously impact your happiness.

It prevents you from fully experiencing the present moment, which is the only place where life truly happens.

Sociologists have found that people who spend more time focused on the present, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, are generally happier.

Yet our minds often get caught up in ‘time-travel’, leaving us feeling anxious, regretful, or dissatisfied.

Breaking this habit involves practicing mindfulness and learning to focus on the here and now.

This doesn’t mean you should never reflect on the past or plan for the future, but rather that you shouldn’t allow these thoughts to dominate your thinking and steal your present joy.

If you find yourself constantly replaying past events or worrying about future ones, it’s time to bring your mind back to the present.

Practice mindfulness techniques like meditation or simply paying more attention to your surroundings.

Remember that while you can learn from the past and plan for the future, living in the present is key to happiness.

5. Comparison

I used to be a chronic comparer. I would look at my friends, colleagues, or even strangers and feel a pang of envy for what they had that I didn’t.

This constant comparison made me lose sight of my own accomplishments and worth, leading to a significant decrease in my happiness.

Comparison, as they say, is the thief of joy. It can make you feel like you’re not good enough, not successful enough, not attractive enough – the list goes on.

The more you compare yourself to others, the more discontented you become with your own life.

I remember scrolling through social media and feeling a sinking feeling in my stomach as I saw all the ‘perfect’ lives displayed there.

It made me feel inadequate, like I was falling behind. But over time, I realized that comparison was doing me more harm than good.

Breaking free from this habit involves realizing that everyone is on their own unique journey.

It’s about learning to appreciate your own path and celebrate your own successes, no matter how big or small they might seem compared to others’.

If you find yourself constantly comparing your life to others’, take a step back and reflect on all the things you have achieved and all the blessings in your life.

Remember, your worth is not determined by how you stack up against others but by your own journey and growth.

6. Neglecting Self-Care

Our fast-paced society often leaves us with little time for ourselves.

We become so engrossed in our work, our responsibilities, and our commitments to others, that we forget to take care of ourselves. This neglect of self-care can significantly impact our happiness.

Self-care isn’t just about pampering yourself with a spa day or indulging in your favorite foods.

It’s about taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s about setting boundaries, saying no when needed, and prioritizing your well-being.

If you find yourself constantly feeling exhausted, stressed out, or emotionally drained, it might be time to reassess your self-care routine.

Remember to take time out for yourself, do things that you enjoy, and prioritize your health and well-being.

After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

7. Lack of Forgiveness

Holding onto grudges and resentments can be like carrying a heavy load on your shoulders. It drains your energy and robs you of peace and happiness.

This lack of forgiveness not only affects your relationships with others but also with yourself.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting what happened or excusing the actions of others.

It means making a conscious decision to let go of the anger and resentment that holds you back from experiencing true happiness.

If you’re holding onto past hurts or resentments, it might be time to consider forgiveness. Remember, forgiving someone isn’t necessarily for them; it’s for you.

8. Clinging to Control

Life is unpredictable, yet we often try to control every aspect of it.

This constant need for control can lead to stress and anxiety when things don’t go according to plan.

Learning to let go and accept that there are things beyond our control can significantly increase our happiness.

It’s about understanding that sometimes the best thing we can do is adapt and adjust.

If you find yourself constantly trying to control everything, it might be time to practice letting go.

Remember, the only thing you can truly control is your response to situations.

9. Ignoring Your Passions

In the hustle and bustle of life, we often forget to make time for things that truly make us happy.

Ignoring your passions and interests can lead to dissatisfaction and a lack of fulfillment.

Pursuing your passions not only brings joy but also gives a sense of purpose. It allows you to express yourself and contributes to your overall well-being.

If you’ve put your passions on the back burner, it might be time to reignite them.

Remember, happiness isn’t just about avoiding negative things; it’s also about pursuing positive ones.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder 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 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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