Happiness is hard sometimes. We chase after goals or desires, then when we have them, they don’t bring us happiness. So, we chase after new goals or desires, the cycle continues, and we remain unhappy.

Buddhists like to say that desire leads to unhappiness, and there is wisdom in that. Instead, here are 11 things which we may think are important, but truly don’t need to be happy.

1. Following the news

“Ignorance is bliss” is wrong, but that does not mean there is not too much information out there. Our society is so saturated by news about every inane thing that we lose track of the world and people around us. And while Washington intrigue may be fascinating, it does not affect you as much as you may think it does.

The fact is that news has plenty of negative effects on our bodies and way of thinking. Cut it off, and learn to enjoy life around you.

2. The Internet

If the “information” we obtain by news consumption overstimulates our brains, what does the information we obtain through the internet do? Online communication hinders regular communication, as this Pearls Before Swine strip points out. And no one you meet online can mean as much to you as your close friends and family, who you can see face to face.

3. Gambling

Gambling is fun. But as it becomes more accepted in our society, people overlook its downsides. It takes away money from the poor and desperate, and can even get them addicted with dreams of easy wealth.

Gambling is not good for either your relationships or your wallet. And this can include not just the lottery or a trip to Vegas, but even the rise in fantasy sports.

4. Insincere hobbies

Everyone needs a hobby. But all too often, people pick hobbies which are socially acceptable as opposed to the hobbies they actually enjoy and are interested in. Woodworking and mountain biking are fine things to do, but not everyone is cut out for those sorts of things.

Don’t choose hobbies just so that you can brag about your accomplishments to your peers. You won’t enjoy yourself that way. Do something in your free time that will keep your brain working and that you truly enjoy doing.

5. An expensive vacation

My favorite vacation as a child was not to Disneyworld or some resort, but to visit my grandmother or my uncles and cousins. All too often, families try to buy some expensive vacation which they hope will provide nice memories, but that is nowhere near as good as the simple bonds between family and friends.

6. A big house

All too often, a big house just means a place that you have to spend more time cleaning and maintaining than you would like. Americans have the biggest houses in the world by far, but that has not made us feel any better or happier.

The house can be a trap in more ways than one. People start adding extras, like a two-car garage, and then taking out car title loans to fill it. But remember, more loans means more debt and a smaller paycheck at the end of every month. What would you rather enjoy, a good life or a big house?

7. Entertainment

Entertainment should be, well, entertaining. But people look to entertainment to escape the drudgery of their lives, which means they put more money into entertainment than their own lives.

But the most entertaining thing in this world is humans themselves. Learning about them can be far more interesting than any novel or movie.

8. Expensive dates

When we go out with others, we often try to impress them by taking them somewhere flashy or expensive. That often goes nowhere, just like those aforementioned expensive vacations. The best dates, just like the best vacations, are those taken where you can remember your date better than wherever you went to.

9. A gym membership

Exercise is critical in ensuring that we are happy and healthy. But that does not mean we need a gym membership, or worse, a home exercise set. Regular jogs and calisthenics can ensure you remain in good health. These activities are also cheaper and will not disappoint you as much as a jogging machine collecting dust in your garage.

10. The latest technology

We have forgotten that technology is not an end. It is a means to an end in the pursuit of a better life. This means that we should not rush to get the latest technology just because. Only get it if you truly believe that it can solve your problems or improve your life in some manner.

11. The approval of other people

Almost everything which has been listed above ties into this one thing. We want other people to like us, so we buy expensive gadgets or vacations so that they will like us for our gadgets as opposed to who we are. But other people want us to like them, so they buy their own gadgets, which leads to a “keeping up with the Jones” situation.

Remember: there is no person in the world so despised as the one who tries to make everyone like him. Be yourself. That is the best thing you can do to be happy.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

Set a goal for yourself

"I'll save at least one third of my earnings to do something big."

Add To My Goal

Read full content