10 Things to Avoid to Find Happiness in Life

If you want to be happy (and I’m sure everyone does), it’s essential to make sure that you don’t fall into pitfalls on the way to happiness. Falling into the pitfalls will make it difficult for you to be and stay happy in life.

That’s why I believe that one of the best ways to find happiness is to learn about the pitfalls. The more you know about the wrong things to do, the better equipped you will be to do the right things.

Find happiness You may be familiar with some of the points I’m about to share, but being reminded is always good. In fact, the process of writing this post is a way for me to reflect on my life and learn from the pitfalls I’ve encountered so far.

Here are ten things you should avoid to find happiness in life:

1. Trying to please everybody

This is a major pitfall. Often we are afraid of negative things people may say about us that we end up trying to please everybody. But that’s a vain attempt. No matter how good you try, you will never be able to please everyone. You will just end up frustrated. You’d better focus on the right people than wasting your energy on the wrong people.

2. Being greedy

We need money to live, but being obsessed with money will never give us happiness. At most, it will only give us short-term pleasure.

To find true happiness you must learn to be content with your life. Be grateful for what you have and count your blessings. While you may think you don’t have enough, the fact is you have more financially than most other people in the world.

3. Being jealous

It could be difficult to be genuinely happy when someone becomes more successful than you. In such situation, it’s easy to become jealous.

Why does it happen? I believe one main cause is comparing yourself with others. When you compare yourself with others, there is a good chance that you will be either proud (when you are above) or jealous (when you are below). But you should realize that you have your own race to run. You are unique; you have your own call. The best thing you can do is to be your best and meet your call.

4. Not forgiving

Forgiveness is an important key to happiness. When you don’t forgive, you carry a burden in your heart. Some people are so accustomed to carrying the burden that they no longer feel it. But these people don’t know how much joy and happiness they leave on the table because of it.

One thing to note: not only should you forgive others, you should also forgive yourself. Perhaps you have made mistakes in the past that you can’t forgive yourself for. But realize that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes so forgive yourself and start anew.

5. Neglecting your passions

What makes you excited in life? Everyone has passion. In fact, I believe that everyone has multiple passions. Spending time in your passions will undoubtedly give you happiness since you are doing what you are hardwired to do. Neglecting your passions, on the other hand, will make you live below your full potential.

6. Being opportunistic

You must seek opportunity but you shouldn’t be opportunistic. If you just jump into anything that looks interesting, you won’t have the consistency to follow your true calling. Your happiness will be a function of the situation and you may ride an emotional roller coaster.
Instead of being opportunistic, try to think strategically about your life. Think long term about how you want your life to be. Have a vision and be consistent with it.

7. Only thinking about yourself

This is also a major pitfall that hinders us from finding happiness. We might think that the more we spend our time on meeting our needs and wants the happier we will be. That’s not true. To the contrary, the more you think about yourself the more likely it is that you will be disappointed. Why? Because the more you think about yourself the more you have to lose. The probability that something will disappoint you increases.

8. Ignoring your conscience

Perhaps deep down in your heart you know that something is the right thing to do but you ignore it. The little whisper in your heart is essential to find happiness. It’s your conscience and it’s telling you what is right to do. Unfortunately, often our rational mind creates a lot of excuses not to follow the conscience. It takes practice to follow your conscience. I still fail here and there, but I’m learning.

9. Being idle

You may know what is right to do and want to do it, but if you don’t actually do it, it won’t do you any good. Do what you should do and don’t procrastinate.

10. Not accepting yourself

Perhaps there are some things you don’t like about yourself. You might want to be taller, richer, or have different background.

Whatever that is, there is nothing you can do about it. So, instead of worrying about it, you’d better accept it and see it in a positive way. What you think is disadvantage could actually be your advantage. For instance, your financial success will be more inspiring if you come from a poor background than if you come from a rich one.

So learn to like yourself. Only after you feel good about yourself can you find happiness in life.


By no mean is this list complete. Do you know of other pitfalls? I would love to hear them.

This article is part of July 2008 theme: Happiness

Photo by Misserion


  1. […] Latumahina nos ofrece, en LifeOptimizer, 10 cosas a evitar para encontrar la felicidad en la vida. Lo traduzco y publico pues se trata de valores que se nos inculcan desde chicos (y estoy muy […]

  2. Three more to your list:
    * putting others before us
    * holding on to painful memories
    * not believing in our right to be happy

  3. Great article. I offer some supporting material in my free ebook, “How to Overcome the 7 Toxic Beliefs About Happiness that Keep You From Being Happy”.

    You can get your free copy at http://www.i-choose-happiness.com

    Best Regards,
    Ricky Powell

  4. You forgot one, and I think it is number one. “Avoid unhappy people.”

    • “avoid unhappy” peoples, but only by one way. i.e. by making them happy 🙂

  5. Avani,
    I love all three of your suggestions. They are short but they have deep meaning.

    Thanks for the information!

    I think helping unhappy people to improve their life is a good thing to do. But I agree that we should avoid unhappy people who don’t want to change and just drag us down.

  6. Great list! Just a comment on number 9, being idle. The best way out of a bad place is to take a single step forward. Towards what? Something you deem desirable. That single step can be the smallest step, but it puts you in a place where you can then see the next step. And when you don’t know the next step, the best step is to find out. Yes, finding out is a step. How do you find out? Ask friends. Look it up. Consult with someone. Get input. THe biggest changes for the better in life are not the result of big changes, but of small steps forward.

  7. […] Optimizer shares ten things you should avoid to find happiness in […]

  8. Great list Donald! For me the one that comes to mind most strongly is related to numbers 5 and 9 (neglecting your passions & being idle)… I call it, “Getting too comfortable.” We crave comfort. We love when things are repeated and when we feel safe and cozy. I like it too – but, I practice catching myself feeling comfortable and I break it up so I can go experience something else. I know as soon as I’m comfortable that I have a tendency to stay there. I insist I snap out of the comfort zone and do something novel so I can experience more of life.

    It happens in many situations…. While running – if I feel too good, too relaxed I’ve gotta push it to do more. If I catch myself watching Youtube videos for more than 10minutes in a row for just pure fun – I snap myself out of it. If I’ve been in the apt. all day I’ve gotta get out and go DO something and interact with people. If I’m going to the same restaurants to eat and notice it – I’ll try something new. It’s good to streeeeeeettttttch. Push the boundaries and get uncomfortable. A comfortable life is a life in which you don’t experience all that you could.

    • Word up brother, word up!!!
      I hope ur still livin by those words! I’m gonna try that. Thank you for ur words of wisdom my friend, just maybe that fresh start I’ve been lookin for!

  9. Rick,
    I agree completely with you. Big accomplishment is just small steps taken consistently over time.

    I love your tip 🙂 To be honest, I fit your examples of being comfortable. Looks like I should learn to streeeeetttch.

  10. One more thing to add to your list.

    Surround yourself with positive people and stay away from the negative types who try to drag you down. I can’t stress how much this single item helps in my day to day business dealings.

  11. Canspaza,
    I agree. I do feel the difference between being with positive people and negative people. It’s tremendous.

  12. Sorry, I have to disagree with the idea that you should surround yourself with only positive people. First, the whole concept of positive and negative people is a huge generalization that leaves out the interesting shades of grey in life. I find that people are not all this or all that, but some mix of qualities. That’s what makes them interesting! And what a small world you will inhabit if you limit yourself to the people who agree with you.

    What does positive mean when you use it this way? Smiling? Upbeat? A lot of broken people in denial compulsively smile. A lot of people with serious mental disorders become the ‘life of the party,’ while they are disintegrating inside. I find that some of the happiest people I’ve met in life are calm and quiet, content people who neither appear to be positive or negative, just are. They don’t show their energy by smiling or being enthusiastic, just go about their business, helpful when called upon, but not into interfering with others.

    Or does positive mean people who agree with you? That means leaving out the contrarians, the people who can actually think and see and act outside of your box. Why would you deny yourself the creativity they provide? What a loss. I think that could prove to be a very negative choice.

    Then there’s the fact that sometimes being negative, especially when everyone else is so dang positive, is a positive thing…like when everyone is positive about following the ‘positive’ leader over a cliff, and someone says, ‘Um, that’s going to hurt, I’m not going to do it!” We all know what happens in that situation. The ‘positive’ people get ugly, exert coercive pressure, whine about the ‘negative’ person. Nope. I think it’s a mistake to avoid or leave people out of your life because they are ‘negative.’ Negative is just a value judgment you place on people for your own reasons, and I would invite you to examine those reasons and determine if perhaps they themselves are what’s negative for you about negative people, and that if not for your judgement that they are negative people, you’d find that they are just people, doing the best they can to live a good life on this often challenging planet.

    I think surrounding oneself with a diverse lot of people is a better choice to live an optimal life. And I don’t need you to agree with me. People who agree with me may be a comfort, but disagreeable people give me the chance to test my assumptions, challenge my opinions, and develop my character and flexibility, to have empathy and compassion, and to serve needs greater than my own.

    I had enough of the ‘me-me-me’ stuff in the 80s. There is more to life than being positive all the time, more possibility than what’s available when you surround yourself with people who walk like, talk like, act like you do.

    Am i being negative? I don’t think so. In fact, I think that Donald’s list is pretty near perfect as is, without the ‘only be with positive people’ addition. I’m POSITIVE that his list is great as is.

  13. Rick,
    Your comment is comprehensive and it does show the importance of diversity in our relationships.
    The negative people I have in mind here are “negative types who try to drag you down” (as Canspaza wrote it). In my understanding, these are people who don’t want to change no matter how hard we try. They just drain our energy. We’d better reserve our energy for those who want to change.

  14. Nice list. Hmm maybe if you rephrase “negative people” to “energy-draining people” that’s more accurate. It has been proven that we are strongly influenced by those around us, so it would make sense to be around energy-preserving or uplifting people.

    BTW there are scientology ads plastered all over your site from Google Adsense!

  15. Donald and Derek, I think I get where you are coming from, and I agree that if you find your energy is drained around certain people, it makes no sense to be around them unless you absolutely have to.

    But there’s the rub. In life, we are sometimes required to hang out around people that are very different than ourselves. And the reality, to me, is that if I find someone ‘draining’ on my energy, that’s not about that person, that’s about my response to that person. I’d rather solve the problem where it is instead of where it isn’t. That means cutting out the middle man and changing my response.

    And obviously, I believe this is an option for anyone who makes this choice. Change what you’re telling yourself, change how you see them, change the feelings you access around them, and then ‘they’ can’t drain you anymore, because it wasn’t them in the first place.

    I hope I’m not being argumentative here, or draining your energy 😉 by engaging with you on this subject. But I think it’s important enough to comment, because it seems to me that we live in a world with a lot of projection and blame. If not for them, if not for him, if not for her, if not for that, I’d be fine, but (best Steve Martin voice) Excuuuuuuuuuuuuse meeeeeeeee!

    It just doesn’t hold up. Yes, there are people that are easier to resonate with than others, but that doesn’t diminish the worth of those others, or even the value they might represent in our lives if we got past our opinions and reactions and discovered what’s interesting about them. I’ve had people in my life who had little to say but emphasizing the negatives. I don’t argue with people doing that. I get a kick out of it. Sometimes, I use it to remind myself to say something positive to myself whenever they’re around doing their thing. I wind up refreshed in their presence that way!

    So for me, it’s negative, schmegative. How about different. And differences are interesting. I believe it was Mr. Spock’s people who said ‘Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations’ is a path of honor and respect.

    Which by the way, I completely respect your views on this, and am merely expressing my own. I did (co)write a book about ‘dealing with people you can’t stand,’ (that’s not a plug, but a fact…) so this isn’t unfamiliar territory. In fact, there’s a whole section filled with tactics and strategies for ‘No’ people and ‘Whiners.’

    But you know the saying about ‘when life hands you lemons make lemonade?’ I offer you this playful challenge. The next time one of those draining “i was weaned on a pickle’ people is near enough to you to observe, I say switch gears, pay attention, ask yourself, “What sense am I making, and how do I know I’m right? How is their behavior possible? What else could it mean? Where might that actually be useful?” and find out if that changes your internal state when they’re around. I would love to hear what happens to you as a result of trying this suggestion.

  16. Oh, one more thing. Yeah, what’s the deal with the Scientology ads all over your site? Blccch. Doesn’t drain me, but you see that volcano erupting on the cover of the Dianetics book? I see “DANGER WILL ROBINSON” and “RUN, FOREST RUN” warning flags whenever anything from that crowd appears.

    Of course, they will swear that they can tell you how to deal with that on page 87.

    So now I’m going to make a new distinction on your blog about negative people, thanks to the positive influence of the dianetics ads.

    There’s the characterization of negative in people who are harmless if not innately a pleasure to be around. That’s what I’ve been talking about. And then there are the people and organizations that are an actual negative influence on others, because of their lies, hidden agendas, coercive and deceitful tactics, and their willful and unethical manipulation of ignorance that allows them to foist their cons, hustles and scams on people desperately seeking a conversion hysteria experience to liberate them from their unhappy lives.

    When it comes to negative influence, if I have the option to flee, I’m all for having a negative reaction and getting myself and as many other people as possible as far away as fast as possible. If running is not an option, I’m for standing up to it, telling the truth about it, and speaking out about it in any way that might give at least a bit of protection to the naive and unthinking person.

    I’m guessing this is a luck of the draw google ad thing. Please tell us that for you and this blog, they don’t represent another agenda?!!!

  17. I come down on the side of “avoid them.” It is not my responsibility to ask myself a load of questions about my own response to or the inherent value of a negative person. Frankly, I have enough to deal with on my own.

    Let them stew in their unhappiness- that is the only way they are happy, after all. As a sales manager for life, I have learned that one person cannot motivate another. All one CAN do is to search for those people who are already motivated. Same thing with negative people. It’s simply easier to avoid them and spend my very precious time with those who lift me, rather than those who drag me to the bottom.

  18. […] Latumahina presents Finding Happiness: 10 Things to Avoid to Find Happiness in Life posted at Life […]

  19. Great list, Donald. Forgiveness and thinking of others are on the top of my to-do list for happiness. Forgiveness gives a great sense of freedom and release from being tied to negative feelings. Thinking of others – well, do that and you’ll have friends: good friends = life good. Thanks!

  20. Laurie,
    I agree with you that good friends = life good. That’s a good way to put it. Friendship does brighten our life.

  21. wow DR. K let me be your friend

    btw nice list donald

  22. All very common sense tips, and all good ones. I think that one of the more important ones would be doing what you are hardwired to do. After all, if you spend the most time of your life at work – more time than with your family, friends, school, or anywhere else, then that is the main thing you should make sure that you get right. Of course, family should be the most important priority in life, but if you are going to spend the most hours of any sphere of life, it is a wise idea to make sure that you love what you are doing.

  23. I’m Happy I found you guy’s on this site 🙂 I would like to share a story….
    Met an old fisherman, Bob the Bargeman we called him. Seventy year old Bob lived on South Stradbroke Island [Straddie]. We had recently moved there too, this was back in the early 80s. Mostly what Bob did was drive up and down the beach in his old VW kombi Ute, fish and drink. He operated a single vehicle, private barge part time to make ends meet.
    I called at his shack 6am one morning to rent his barge [to transport some furniture] he answered the door half asleep in his stark naked, wrinkled, birthday suit. He insisted I come in and have a beer to discuss it over a beer. Averting my gaze I politely declined. “F… u” he said, “if u don’t drink with me u don’t get the barge.”
    So we had a beer. After the first beer he asked. “Did you enjoy that?” I did and I said so.
    “Well” he replied. “If you’re enjoyin it keep doin it, that always been my philosophy”.
    So we had a couple more. It’s been my philosophy ever since too.
    So old mate… if you’re enjoying it you know what to do to be happy.
    DrKoo [no relation to Dr K]

  24. Deko Arinola Hope
    Deko Arinola Hope

    Drkoo,that was a nice comment,but do you think abusing alcohol brings true happiness?such happiness does not last,cos it damages one’s health.Happiness is meant to be lifelong over an issue,that is, when you think about it,it should bring more happiness rather than putting yourself into a state to feel happy.

  25. Being opportunistic is a good way of discovering what you aren’t sure of, if we criticize everything as not part of the goal we may miss out on something that could greatly change our life’s for the better.
    I disagree with number 6, I know what you mean though, I think it depends what you are being opportunistic about.

  26. i totally agree with the 10 things, but i think sth is missin’. That is extablishing a close relationship wit God. Through HIM, u not only find true happiness in this world but in the afterlife.

  27. You are my hero after reading the list. Thank you

  28. Thank you so much..

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