10 Things You Need to Stop Doing Today to be Happier.

Via Robert Piper
on Jun 28, 2012
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photo: flickr.com | moonjazz

We tend to be unconscious of behaviors that are causing pain and unnecessary suffering in our lives.

If we could just become more conscious of behaviors that are leading to the pain in our lives, we would be a lot happier. Today we can start giving up some of the things in our life that are causing this conflict.

1. Stop complaining.

Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain.
~ Henry Ford

Nobody wants to be around someone who complains all the time. Yet we all do it. Instead of finding a reason to complain, look for the solution if you’re facing a problem. Look for something positive in your life. There’s always something positive to find in our life if we shift our focus.

2. Stop Judging.

We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.
~ Paulo Coelho

Stop judging other peoples lives and focus on perfecting your own life. We spend so much time gossiping rather than working on perfecting ourselves. Focus on your own life, and how you’re going to perfect it.

 3. Stop avoiding your fear.

Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
~ Rumi

Fear is an obnoxious thing—it slows you down from finding a career you love, a romantic relationship and pursing your dreams. Do something that makes you uncomfortable every day, in small steps, and it will dramatically alter the course of your life.

4. Stop being so hard on yourself.

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.
~ African Proverb

The biggest enemy that you face is the one inside you—this enemy criticizes, condemns, and complains. Don’t let these unconscious patterns run your life.

Come to terms with these patterns. The biggest enemy you ever have to face is the one inside of you.

5. Stop being negative.

Misery loves company.
~ Anonymous

If you focus on being negative it’s going to show up everywhere in your life. It will show up in your work, relations and everything else. Shift your focus away from being so negative all the time. Find things that make you come alive!

6. Stop caring about what other people think of you.

Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.
~ Lao Tzu

Every great artist, musician, political leader, ignored what people thought of them. Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business. What people think of you should not drown out your own inner voice and inspirations.

7. Stop worrying about the small stuff.

When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.
~ Winston Churchill

Think about all the unnecessary worries that go through your mind all day. We worry about why someone is not returning our emails, texts, phone calls. We worry about everything and anything.

Focus on what you can do at the present moment and not about how you can worry about the outcome.

8. Stop needing to be right all the time.

The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas. It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong than to be always right by having no ideas at all.
~ Edward De Bono

Stop needing to be right all the time, this can lead to so many unnecessary arguments. Instead of needing to be right, start working on being more open to other peoples opinions. Start asking more questions and become more interested in other people’s points of view. It may open a whole new dimension of life.

9. Stop blaming others.

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.
~ George Bernard Shaw

We constantly blame everyone for all types of different things. Quit blaming other people for your circumstances. If you want to change something go out and do it! Don’t blame someone for your present day situations.

10. Stop living in the past or the future.

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.
~ Henry David Thoreau

So much of our attention is on past experiences or on how we will be in the future. Focus your mind on the present moment. We would be so much happier if we placed our attention on the present.



F*ck Happiness, I’ll Take Freedom Instead.


Relephant bonus: The simple Buddhist trick to being happy:

It’s simple, but hard:

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

photo: flickr.com | moonjazz; Flickr

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53 Responses to “10 Things You Need to Stop Doing Today to be Happier.”

  1. HVBB says:

    This is boomeritis spirituality.
    It''s false, a bandaid and will cause more problems down the road.
    Here's a thought:
    Start being real.
    Three is an MRI study that shows that when we experience the emotional pain of others, there is a physiological response in the brain that is GREATER than when we witness the PHYSICAL pain of others.

    This is the empathy response.

    All the advice above NEGATES that response.

    So you no longer have a tolerance for the emotional pain of others.

    You become self absorbed.

    Self centered, only caring for YOUR happiness.

    And you know what you become then?


    Kill empathy = Be happy.

    • Brian says:

      I fully agree with you. This is the kind of claptrap you find posted by the rainbow and unicorn yoga teachers and students on Facebook! Please please stop this kind of posting that MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AND CANNOT WORK IN THE REAL WORLD.

    • Blake says:

      Is the world a better place when everyone sits around watching and crying over Oprah & Dr. Phil? Gotta keep that physiological response going. (?!) This view appears absent of logic. You have a physiological response when you cut yourself or get your face eaten by a maniac. MRI studies would back that up too. Having an empathetic response to all the media and information we have in this age- feel free to end up deranged, suicidal, or at the very least virtually unable to do anything positive.
      Also, how on earth does ANY of the above "negate" empathy?? When you stop blaming others you become less empathetic? When you stop being negative and face your fears you lose empathy? Did you read the 10 items posted? You can find empathy everywhere, justified or irrational, humble or narcissistic ( yes empathy can be self serving ) What you cannot find everywhere is enlightenment, or for that matter courage. To attempt to seek enlightenment in the face of all we see and suffer is courageous, and a testimony to the spirit that resides within us all. If you are afraid that it is self serving to seek a truer self, I am afraid that you are victimizing your potential.
      I am happy to take the advice of Rumi and George Bernard Shaw – if you and Brian ( the one who knows the real world) feel your ideas are better, please let us know your list of 10. ( or maybe read some of their work- who knows, you may end up seeing some wisdom & liking it.)

      • Hvbb says:

        I was driven home from a magnificent festival today and my friend that drove me noted how all the people on the road seemed to have a god complex. They don’t think that there are others on the road with them and drive as though they own it.

        This is an example of self absorption. When driving we are meant to be aware of all that surrounds us, but people drive as though it is their own little universe.

        It is a systematic issue brought about by the positive self esteem movemeon spawned in the 70s.

        Read the narcissism epidemic, or boomeritis by ken Wilbur.

        Im familiar with the authors mentioned by you, therefore I suggest you peruse the authors I just mentioned.

        And the anger of your response makes my point for me.
        Look at the Dukka within you and answer the question as to why this bothers you so.

        • MsLeG says:

          I disagree, and what a wonderful example you've given us here Hvbb. Because what better place than behind the wheel to practice eliminating some of the 10 things mentioned to be happier?

          Based on my experience and others I've spoken to, it's behind the wheel where judgment, fear, anger and blame are exposed. And it's not because of a god complex or that we're living in our own little universe.
          I believe it may be quite the opposite.

          I say let's stop complaining, judging, blaming, and so on and let's start practicing this while we're stuck in traffic.
          As well as making us happier, it may also make us better drivers, and more 'aware of all that surrounds us'.

    • Ken Wert says:

      So what you're saying hten, is to complain, judge, fear, beat yourself up for minor mistakes, be negative and worry about what everyone thinks and says about you, insistKen on always being right, blame others for everything you don't like and leave the moment for other people to live in, and this will bring you happiness and authenticity and empathy?


    • elephantjournal says:

      Great comment. You should contribute! Have you read Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism?

    • Anders says:

      So we should all do the exact opposite of this on every point? That sounds like fun. This is actually pretty obvious stuff though, not very brainy or newagey. Of course you get happier if you worry less and think less about how other people piss you off.

      Also, I just wanted to add an 11th point to the list: Don’t waste your time writing pointless comments to posts like this on the internet.

  2. Christine says:

    Absolutely loved this and it was exactly what I needed to read right now. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Susan says:

    Excellent advice for everyone! It is really just common courtesy and common sense – but neither are very common any longer. Thank you for putting it all together in one place! 🙂

  4. Will Space says:

    I agree with HVBB only I don't necessarily think as written it outruled empathy, maybe just didn't include it. I was going to say eat less frozen food – even veggie burgers.

  5. cjinca says:

    I'd have to say I have a better shot at balanced empathy when I'm more closely hitting the marks in 1 – 10. Some more than others, are rooted in bad habits and it's always good to be reminded of healthier thinking. Thanks!

  6. craigholliday says:

    Great reminder, thanks so much!

  7. @sayahillman says:

    I got let go from my last 9 to 5 job. Turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me, netting me eight (and hopefully more) magical years of self-employment, experiences I could've never imagined, connections with the most positive, intelligent, passionate people, and a fiance (http://macncheeseproductions.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/thought-he-was-going-to-pass-gas-instead-he-proposed/)!

    I attribute much of my happiness/success to #3 "Stop Avoiding Your Fear." Both in that I continually push myself to inject a little fear into my life and in that I push others to experience heart palpitations 'n sweaty palms as well. Even created an adventure called Fear Experiment, which has strangers challenging themselves by doing something they're not good at, with a group of strangers, in front of 700+! The results? Amazing. http://macncheeseproductions.com/fear-experiment

    Thanks for the post Robert! Really resonated.

  8. Ann says:

    "Fear is an obnoxious thing—it slows you down from finding a career you love, a romantic relationship, and pursing your dreams. Do something that makes you uncomfortable every day, in small steps, and it will dramatically alter the course of your life."

    This is most true ONLY if the romantic relationship YOU ARE PURSUING does NOT include a MAN ALREADY COMMITTED TO HIS WOMAN. Find your own, gurl. You're pathetic.

  9. Sara says:

    Great post! I love the quotes, although the one from Winston Churchill particularly stood out in my mind and brought a smile to my face. I'm not really sure how this post could have gathered such negative replies. my guess is that they struggle to find happiness. they must be writing some pretty awesome prose to be throwing such big rocks. See 2 and 8.

  10. G.C.Aloha says:

    This is a great post. If we are so absorbed in our own misery and live lives of self-pity and blame, we can't possibly be emotionally available to others. It is negativity, not positiivity that leads to self-absorption. In contrast, if we attend to our own spiritual growth and happiness, we can offer that joy as a gift to others. The only life we have control over changing is our own. This doesn't mean we don't reach out and help when asked or that we can't contribute to the betterment of other people's lives. It only means that only I can change my outlook. When I stop being hard on myself (#4), I can offer my talents and skills to others, rather than worrying that I'm not good enough. And I can work on improving myself without beating myself up for not making progress fast enough. This, in turn, makes me more compassionate towards others who are mired in their own suffering, because I have been there at one time and to some degree and can recognize our similarity as human beings finding our way in the world. When I stop worrying about the small stuff (#7), stop needing to be right all the time (#8) and stop blaming others (#9), I am a better friend, and my interactions with others become more positive, enjoyable and helpful.

    All of this advice IS about being real. It's about unearthing your true value as a human being and allowing it full expression, rather than burying it in self-doubt and bitterness. In my experience, whenever I put this advice into practice, I experience lightness and joy in my life. When I find myself slipping back into negativity, my potential for happiness and fulfillment begins to close down.

    • Hvbb says:

      I love freud, I really do. I feel out of all, he was the greatest of all the psychological minds.
      However, everything you stated above is all old freudian theory that is wholely not supported by the new and extensive reasearch.

      Need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves?

      Do you not see the failing of that thinking? The “me, me, me!” of it?
      You’re feeling sorry for yourselves by saying you need to stop feeling sorry for yourselves.

      Stop making it about you. Alan watts said it best when he said we learn about ourselves in service to others. We find happiness in Our selfless service to others.

      You’ll find happiness the moment you stop making it all about you, and it is the making it all about you that causes not only your unhappiness, but the unhappiness of those around you as well.

  11. Mariana Wirth says:

    Absolutely marvelous! I will translate it to give it to my parents, I think they will enjoy it and make the most of it. Thank you!!

  12. Mind Dumpster says:

    If you think about it, some of these points are interrelated. Such as: if I care too much about what other people think of me, then I am usually judgmental towards others too. If I am judgmental towards others, most often I am judgmental towards myself (being hard on myself). While it's rather easy to say that I have to stop doing all the above, actually acting on them is difficult.

    Also the getting over your fears part is difficult. It's true that your fears can hinder you from getting the things that you love.
    But if overcoming fear means quiting my current job to start doing something else that I love but not certain in terms of money – while I have responsibilities to my family – is I think irresponsible.

    So in my opinion, all of the above advice are good, but they're easier said than done. Also one needs to find his/her own balance in applying all of the above in real life.

    • Hvbb says:

      We have created a culture that supports and fosters individual selfishness, while discouraging accountability to ourselves and others, all as long as we, individually, are happy.

      We don’t look at sustainable contentness, only individual, disposable, instant gratification, even if it is at a cost of others that we have deafened ourselves to.

      What is happiness worth if it is attained by making those around you unhappy?

  13. […] 10 things you need to stop doing today to be happier. […]

  14. Geri says:

    I went to my acupuncturist today she told me my body is in stagnation, I'm getting better . She told me to try and stop internalizing my thoughts because it's stressing my body and shutting it down, causing pain. You really have the right idea I about not over thinking things

  15. Grammar says:


  16. […] 10 Things You Need to Stop Doing Today to be Happier. (elephantjournal.com) […]

  17. […] sort of corny because of its over-the-top inspiring-ness, the items are worth adhering to: 10 Things You Need to Stop Doing to Be Happier. I’ve been trying to remember this list over the last few […]

  18. bikesandmath says:

    These are all beautiful ways to change one's thinking. Love it.

  19. […] when you find yourself fatigued, hopeless, desperate to ask the unanswerable questions, look within. The strength you need and more are all in […]

  20. […] 10 Things You Need to Stop Doing Today to be Happier – Elephant Journal […]

  21. John Geary says:

    I think I might print out the main points here and paste it up right by my computer. 🙂

  22. Anita_Kata says:

    Awesome article…

  23. […] the world does not owe you anything. If you want happiness, do what makes you happy. If you want a relationship, go out and find it. If you want a better life, go out there and get […]

  24. […] reminds you that time is precious and to stop wasting it on trivial things like comparing yourself to others or trying to fit some mold of society. It also reminds you there […]

  25. […] idea of Gross National Happiness is a hoax—a well orchestrated act that hides the ugly […]

  26. […] 9. 10 Things You Need to Stop Doing Today to be Happier. […]

  27. Marcelo Reviriego says:

    You forgot to say to the people to use more the wise expression (use Google translator portuguese to english): vai tomar no cu.

  28. Leeser says:

    Thanks for this. Usually, I'm not the biggest fan of 'top 10' lists, because they usually fulfill nothing more than to catch the eye to a post that is filled with flowery words and lacks any real substance. But your list is really clean, concise, and without the usual "I am a yogi. I am better than you" pretension. You gave my mind a lot to think about in terms of obtaining a happier self. Thanks 🙂

  29. Alyssa says:

    Oh Paleese. I am all for being upbeat and checking crabby baggage at the door…. not wallowing in self-pity which is actually a luxury and being present… How about a happy medium here? No one like a crab, yet someone who flutters around like a butterfly without a worry in the world is probably not a parent, an employee, a spouse, a homeowner or a taxpayer. You can't live off of love, but you can embrace it and spread it around. Not sweating some of the small stuff can lead to a missed deadline at the office which can lead to loss of employment. These types of lists are meant for people who live their lives by "The Secret" waiting for good fortune to land in their laps while fairies flutter around their heads. It's also called denial. No thanks.

  30. sara says:

    just a heads up for the future ~ a few grammar errors. you are = you’re, not your. : )

  31. Dave says:

    Worrying is good because most things I worry about never happen..:)

  32. Delia says:

    I've made it to 80 so must have done something RIGHT.

  33. Ali Jayne says:

    Lovely Robert,
    Thank you for the reminder today… 🙂

  34. Nine Cent Girl says:

    #3 needs to be my motto this month!! thanks for posting this!

  35. David Neesley says:

    Just do what everyone else in the world does, sit in a bar and drink, dress like all your friends, and follow the crowd. Individuality requires so much effort, and achieving acceptance in painless if you follow the crowd. There is always going to be a woman trying to run the show, just smack her in the mouth and keep following the crowd. Then one day your going to say I'm mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, find that woman who's running the show, smack her again,and realize you need a life,you don't care what other people think, you become a republican, and you start running the show.And one day some one is going to smack you in the mouth, say I'm mad as hell and the cycle continues.

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