Avoid These 9 Little Things As Much As You Can If You Want To Feel Happier

by Caroline Burke

Abraham Lincoln is famous for saying, "Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be." While this isn't entirely accurate (taking into account things like chemical imbalances, and circumstantial events that occur in people's lives), this sentiment does ring pretty true: There are things you can do to increase happiness, and similarly, there are just as many things to avoid if you want to be happy. True contentment, I think, is found somewhere in the middle of doing both of these things.

Some of the most addictive, euphoric parts of life can also be the most toxic. On another level, some of the simplest changes can yield the greatest return in life satisfaction. You can't control the chemical composition of your brain, and no one expects you to. But there are plenty of parts of your life that are totally within your control, which you can tune to drive your highest contentment.

Happiness is all about momentum. If you repeatedly move toward decisions and acts that make you happy, then you'll do it more and more frequently, recognizing the benefits that you reap by making the right decisions. This year, take a page out of Lincoln's book, and decide to be just a few degrees happier than you've been before. Here are nine things to avoid in your quest for greater happiness.


I know, I know. This one is kind of a bummer. Liquor is a real blast, most of the time, but here's the cold, hard truth: Alcohol is a depressant. Regularly drinking alcohol can lead to a decrease in the amount of serotonin in your brain, which is the hormone that makes you feel good.

At the very least, try to cut down your alcohol, especially your hard liquor intake. Your mood (and your savings account, honestly) will thank you.

Social Media
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Is there anything that better represents a bittersweet relationship than that of you and your Instagram feed?

Social media is absolutely brutal. It's addictive and stimulating, but it can also potentially lead to higher rates of depression, not to mention the fact that looking at screens can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which is what helps regulate your sleeping patterns.

Negative People

You are who you surround yourself with — literally. Being around negative people can increase your own chances of feeling and acting negatively, which in turn can affect your stress levels, and may even lead to a less effective immune system, according to Forbes.

Choosing to be around positive people can, in turn, inspire you to feel more optimistic, thus decreasing feelings of stress.


OK, this one may sound kind of counterintuitive at first, but stay with me here: Being wealthy can actually make you unhappy — more specifically, being unnecessarily wealthy.

Studies show that extremely wealthy people (think billionaires) can suffer from higher rates of depression than the average person. Basically, once you surpass an income that allows you a measurable quality of life, you no longer reap additional benefits of happiness. For most people in the United States, this salary cap is at around $80,000 a year.

Stressing About Things You Can't Control

Worrying about situations and events that are out of your control creates a totally unnecessary source of stress in your life. Stress is essentially the villain in the superhero film that is your life: it can crush your physical health, your relationships, and make happiness feel completely out of reach.

You can't erase stress entirely, of course, but you can make a point to try not to stress about the things in your life that are utterly out of your control.

Setting Yourself Up With Too Many Options
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Having too many options might seem like a good thing, but in truth, it can be paralyzing. Trying to decide between tons of choices (even for something as small as shopping for laundry detergent) can be debilitating for your happiness, and can often lead to you making no decision at all.

If you do have to make a decision, just go with your gut and don't look back.

Junk Food

Junk food might taste great while it's going down, but it's probably not going to boost your mood an hour later. In fact, a 2012 study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition showed a link between people who regularly eat fast food and junk food, and higher rates of depression. Can't argue with the facts, my friends.

Overly Sterile Workplaces

If you can think of one super easy way to increase your happiness, one that requires no mental recalibration whatsoever, consider this: Bring some plants to your office.

The Guardian reports that people are scientifically proven to be more productive and more happy when they're working in offices that have a reasonable amount of greenery inside of them. Go ahead and tell your human resources rep you need a succulent (or two) in every room in the office.

Trying To Be Someone Else
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This one seems super obvious, but still, it plagues many of us. It's easy to fall prey to being jealous of others' lives, especially the superficially curated ones you see through your phone screen.

This year, choose not to compare yourself to others. If you do that, you might not take the time to see just how fabulous you already are.