• Anita Chastain, MBA

Find Happiness by Saying No to These 5 Things

Updated: Aug 20

I believe that happiness depends as much on what you take out of your life as what you bring in.

Find Happiness by Saying No to These Five Things

When I decided to simplify my life about five years ago, I decided to remove things that reduced the quality of my life. The "things" I removed went beyond material goods. I also removed ideas that complicated my life and made me unhappy.


I've put together a list of 5 things I removed that have had the biggest impact on my life. I won't say that all of these changes are easy to make - they're not - but they have helped me live a happier and more fulfilling life.


5 Things I Say No to Now to Live a Happier Life


Here are the five things I say no to today to live a happier life:


  • Perfectionism

  • Comparisons

  • Overscheduling

  • Negative self-talk

  • Procrastination

1. Perfectionism


I've written before about the perils of perfectionism and what to do instead. Perfectionism is wrong because it robs us of the joy in life.


If you're a perfectionist, nothing is ever good enough. And that thought - that nothing you do is ever good enough - steals your happiness and leaves you feeling empty and broken.

If you're a perfectionist, nothing is ever good enough. And that thought - that nothing you do is ever good enough - steals your happiness and leaves you feeling empty and broken.


What to do instead: To move past perfectionism, accept that your imperfections are ok. Do the best that you can, while also accepting that good is good enough.


The alternative is a life of self-imposed unhappiness brought on by an unwillingness to accept that perfectionism is unsustainable over the long term.


Or, to put it more simply:


Quit being a perfectionist if you want to be happier.


2. Comparisons


It's human nature, I believe, to compare ourselves to others. We don't usually make a conscious decision to compare our life to someone else's, it just happens. You might see or read or hear something that triggers the comparison.


It's also human nature to allow people to see only what you want them to see. Whether it's your family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, or the random person in front of you in the grocery store, you're only seeing that outer shell of that person's life.


You see only what that person allows you to see.


The woman with the perfect body may dream about foods she won't allow herself to eat or imperfections only she sees in the mirror. The woman wearing the $500 coat may spend money to distract from the emptiness she feels at home.


Or... both of these women may be happy and at peace with themselves and their lives.


You don't know which scenario is true.


And, even if you did know which was true, how does their life affect your happiness? The answer is: It doesn't.


What to do instead: Live your life inside your own skin. Evaluate your life using your own metrics, not the outward appearances of other people.


If you aren't happy with your life, change it. But don't waste time comparing your life to what other people allow you to see of theirs.


3. Overscheduling


We live in a world where overscheduling is the norm. Managers often demand near-miraculous levels of productivity at work, then you come home to another to do list.


It's also true that life's circumstances are such that sometimes we have no say in how many demands are placed on us.


But here's the thing:


Every demand on our time cannot have the same priority. Regain control during overwhelming times by prioritizing what's in front of you.


Every demand on our time cannot have the same priority.

What to do instead: Deal with too many demands on your time by figuring out which are necessary and which are optional. Complete the necessary tasks, the things that must be done. Everything else can wait.


Free your mind and your calendar by letting go of demands that don't have to be dealt with today.


And, from today forward, leave more white space on your calendar. Going through life racing to reach a constantly moving goalpost is a strategy for empty success, not meaningful living.


4. Negative self-talk


There's a difference between being honest with yourself about areas where you can improve and berating yourself with negative self-talk. Honest self-assessment helps you grow. Negative self-talk tears you down and leaves you feeling vulnerable and weak.


Honest self-assessment helps you grow. Negative self-talk tears you down and leaves you feeling vulnerable and weak.

What to do instead: Pay attention to how you talk to yourself and recognize biased distortions of reality for what they are. Then replace those distortions with realistic thoughts and actions.


For example, realize that telling yourself "I can't do anything right" is an exaggeration, a biased distortion of reality. Maybe you didn't do that one thing right, but that doesn't make every other thing you've done wrong.


Then, if the thing that went wrong is something you still need to do, get whatever information, resources, or support you need to do it right. Try again and move on.


5. Procrastination


This is a tough one to work through. I still struggle with procrastination, even though I know that the idea of procrastinating is a lot better than the reality.


What I mean by that is this:


We procrastinate because the thought of avoiding the task is better than the thought of doing it. But thoughts don't always reflect reality.


We procrastinate because the thought of avoiding the task is better than the thought of doing it. But thoughts don't always reflect reality.

Avoiding the task doesn't get rid of the nagging thought stuck on the side of your brain. That nagging thought reminds you that you still have to complete the task.


The only way to get rid of the nagging is to complete the task.


What to do instead: Break it into smaller pieces if you need to. Bribe yourself with a reward if you need to. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself get started.


Getting started is usually the hardest step, so once you start, you can pretty much guarantee that you'll finish.


Summary

Change around us is hard. Change inside of us is even harder, even when we know that change will make us happier.


Saying no to perfectionism, comparing yourself to others, overscheduling, negative self-talk, and procrastination helps me live a happier life. I think it can help you lead a happier life too.


What things do you say no to that help you live a happier life? Email me at anita (@) simplelife365.com.

NEXT: You might enjoy reading:

How Overcoming Perfectionism Changed My Life

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others [Guide]

25 Best Questions to Find Your Authentic Self