The 7 Habits Happy People DON’T Have

Your life is good. Just look at the “world news” section of any news site and you’ll know its true.

And yet, there is this undercurrent of discontent, unhappiness and sadness that underscores your life as you go about your day.

How is it that people in much nastier circumstances than you seem to be so much happier? Are you cursed, or are they onto some kind of a secret that you aren’t privy to?

Well, it turns out to be something far more basic than that.

Over the course of your life, you have unknowingly developed a few bad habits that are keeping your happiness at bay.

No, you are not a bad person and you certainly aren’t a masochist. What you are doing is not intentional — you probably don’t even realize it!

But here’s the thing. Once you recognize these habits, you can quite easily change them. And be on your way to a beautiful life filled with happiness, just the way you dream of it.

Here are the 7 habits that happy people DON’T have, and how you can break out of them.

Over-analyzing and Negative Thinking

When something goes wrong, do you keep worrying about why it happened and what it means? Perhaps you blame yourself, or blame others? How can you be happy with all that going on?

The fix:

Accept that life is not perfect. Stuff happens. It doesn’t really matter why, or who’s responsible. Live in the moment and silence the negative committee in your head.

Taking Things for Granted

No matter how little you have, you always have something to be grateful for. When you take things for granted, they lose their magical powers to bring you joy.

The fix:

Count your blessings. No, not in a figurative sense, but in a literal sense by maintaining a gratitude journal or saying a daily “Thank You” prayer.

Comparing Yourself to Others

The problem with this is, you tend to compare your worst with their best. No matter how you slice it, you can’t come out ahead.

The fix:

The only fair comparison is to compare yourself to an older version of yourself. Watching your own progress can be a great motivator and a great source of true happiness.


This one is pretty self explanatory – when you have things you need to get done, and they hang over your head like a sword, how can you be happy?

The fix:

Make a to-do list. Prioritize it and focus on checking off the one thing at the top. Rinse, repeat. If something lingers on the list for too long, abandon it and move on.


Media sells us the vision of happiness as lying on the beach with a margarita in you hand and nothing better to do. No doubt, its a fun vision. But how long do you think you can do it?

The fix:

Happiness doesn’t come from lazing around and doing nothing! We humans are rigged to derive joy from our accomplishments. Work hard and the fruits of your labor will bring you the happiness you seek.

Prioritizing Work Ahead of Relationships

On the flip side, some people just work, work, work. Yes, work is important, but not at the cost of things that are more important.

The fix:

The simple truth is that we are social beings. While you need to work for the sense of accomplishments, you need to nurture your relationships so you have a joyous place to come home to!

Seeking Happiness in Material Possessions

If you think that a new car, or TV or house will make you happy, think again. Can that happiness really last through life’s ups and downs?

The fix:

More important than any material possession is your sense of self worth. Closely at heels is your health and relationships. Focus on these and you will do far better than chasing after “stuff”.

The challenge:

This is not the first article you’ve read which tells you how to be happy. This won’t be the last. The question is, what do you do with it?

I challenge you to pick one habit from this list and start changing it right now. Just commit to it for a week and see what a difference it makes. Are you in?


P.S.: Calling all Parents Who Read Pick the Brain…

You already read great personal development sites like Pick the Brain to become a better person. What if you can get together with other like-minded parents and hack habits to become a better parent?

My name is Sumitha, and I’m putting together a small community of such parents at afineparent.com. We believe that Good Parents are Made, Not Born. Come, join us and watch what a difference being a fine parent can make to your life!

  • I am in. I will work on procrastination which is one of the worst things that has a strong hold over me.

    • Sumitha

      Great, Braja. Good luck. You’re going to start *right now* and not tomorrow, right? :)

  • Joanna

    Me too, I compare myself with others a lot and you are right: I always compare my lowest points to their highest. I’ll actively work on that.

    • Sumitha

      Congratulations on making the commitment, Joanna! Comparing myself with others was the biggest hurdle for me too. And once you recognize how lame it is that you always pick your worst to compare, it becomes so much easier to switch out of the habit. I’m not always successful, but most of the time these days, I can catch myself the moment I start the comparison and cut it out before it starts to weigh me down. Good luck!

  • I know that I used to struggle (OK, still struggle now and then!) with over analysing negative thoughts. I find release from it through practising Mindfulness meditation. So I’m going to commit to meditating twice a day (10 minutes each) for the next week.

    • Sumitha

      You’re right, Jo. Mindfulness is key to keeping negative thoughts and over-analyzing at bay. And congratulations on making a commitment to meditation, and what’s more, declaring it publicly. By taking that one small action, you have already won half the battle! Good luck.

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  • Adam Clarke

    Awesome post! Concise and really hits some eye opening points. Love the chilling challenge at that follows…looks like I gonna be in for more than one challenge!

    • Sumitha

      Thanks for your kind words, Adam. Which one will you go with? “looks like I gonna be in for more than one challenge” is not a commitment :)

      • Adam Clarke

        Over analysing and negative thinking as well as comparing myself to others are two of my challenges.

        • Sumitha

          So glad that you decided to stop by and reply, Adam — it shows that you are indeed very committed. Those were (and sometimes still are) my biggest challenges. Here’s to us for breaking those habits! Let’s do it!

  • Great stuff, Sumitha! I consider myself a pretty positive dude, but it wasn’t always that way. It took a lot of work to break some of the habits you listed above (particularly, comparing myself to others and procrastination), but it was SO worth it the effort. That’s why I’ve always believed that happiness isn’t something that magically happens to us if we’re lucky, it’s a skill that takes practice. And with consistent and deliberate practice we can learn to master the art of happiness–which includes all of the 7 critical habits you included in this post. Thanks for the great read.

    • Sumitha

      Congratulations on breaking those habits, Shola! Happiness sure is a skill that requires consistent and deliberate practice to master — keep at it.

  • growthguided

    Thank you for your great message!

    – Analysis Paralysis –

    Is such a huge waste. Consuming hours of our week, as we try to make perfect decisions, evaluating that impossible! @GrowthGuided

    • Sumitha


  • David Goettsch

    Very refreshing point of view on a topic that has been written to death. Taking a view from the negative provides some unique insight, and I really like your practical solutions. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Dave (Personal Growth Project)

    • Sumitha

      Thanks for your kind words, David.

  • Michael Stephen Graves

    I have a long road to go I am knee deep in nearly every one of these.

    • Sumitha

      Michael, As long as you know that you have “to go” it doesn’t matter how long the road is. Just take one step at a time and you *will* get there sooner or later :) Good luck!

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  • reagan

    This article comes at the right time… I am ready for the challenge

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  • Damodaran Sudhakar

    Hi Sumitha, i read both of your articles they are pretty simple but very
    thoughtful ones. I was stressed out with one of the events happened in
    past. Your article gave me some relief from that : ) anyways to calm
    down ourself.. i tend be hyper active not able to relax even for few minutes… i keep playing the mobile games.. just avoid inactivity…

  • Rodolfo

    That was a nice topic you wrote about. Telling yourself that everything will be all right is quite hard because things get complicate once in a while but I have learned that ‘life goes on’ and no matter how worse certain situations can get, I will always try to keep my head up!

  • Jessica Sweet

    I find that fear can be an underlying motivator for many of these feelings and behaviors, like procrastination, negative thinking and laziness. For some people what’s really going on is that they are feeling fearful about moving forward for some reason. It sometimes helps to understand this a bit better before trying to break through what seems like is happening on the surface.


  • Brainwavelove

    I do like your challenge! Articles on happiness are countless, it’s all about what one does with them. Picking one of these points can really make a huge impact on how you see and feel the world around you, and for me gratitude is a biggie. Learning to be grateful for all the stuff we take for granted can give us a whole new sense of happiness and self-fulfillment!


  • Wow, what great share though it’s just the simple things. I will share this article with your friends.

  • This really makes sense. Simple yet very powerful tools. Thanks and hopefully you can inspire more people through here.

    Stay in light!



  • My main problem is the first point, that is overanalysing and negative thinking. This is my mental tendency and when that happens, I actively try to counter it by letting go.

  • great! very interesting, i want change . thank so much

  • Carol

    This article was quite timely as I feel as if I am going through so much with life right now. I especially liked the idea of offering the solution (the fix). Over analyzing and negative thinking is definitely me, in addition to comparing myself to others and not being grateful enough. The road to recovery is not easy for me but I am trying… I tend to fall back into my negative ways easily though. Thanks for the great tips and I will keep trying to implement them!

  • The 7 Habits Happy People DON’T Have. i want have 7 habits happy for me

  • tracy

    that was really good and we humanbeings should borrow that thank you

  • Great article. I wish that I didn’t have any of these habits. I don’t think it is true to say that happy people don’t have them. What is happy? How do you know someone is happy – they may look happy but on the inside they’re dying. We all have varying levels of these habits and I think even successful, happy people have them – but they are better able to deal with them and their consequences. It is the coping skills that we need to learn.

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