How We Get in the Way of Our Own Happiness (and How to Stop)


Besides necessities like safety and health, happiness is one of the deepest desires shared by people around the world. It looks different for different people, but ultimately, don’t we all just want to be happy?

And yet, it’s all too easy to sabotage ourselves and get in the way of our own happiness, maybe dismissing it with the belief that it’s out of reach or that we don’t “deserve” it anyway. But the truth is that everyone deserves to be happy and to work toward whatever that looks like for them. These are some of the biggest ways we tend to impede our own happiness – and how to stop.

Avoiding Things That Are Good for Us

Many of the things that create happiness require a level of discipline that doesn’t always come naturally. In particular, consistent exercise and meditation can play a huge role in happiness, but most of us just don’t always feel like doing it.

To make these things a regular part of your life, find what you enjoy, start small, and make a commitment. It’ll be easier to stick with a type of exercise you like and a meditation style that resonates with you. It’s also much more feasible to start off small and build up gradually. Whatever you choose, make a commitment to do it consistently for at least a month to see the cumulative benefits.

Using Devices Excessively

We all know about the harms that come from using devices – eyestrain and disrupted sleep, depression and anxiety, hours that seem to disappear. But scrolling through social media or watching Netflix somehow seem easier than any alternatives. And in today’s society, we feel like we need to be connected at all times anyway.

But putting some limits on your use of devices can yield big happiness benefits. Like developing a meditation or exercise habit, though, it requires making a commitment to yourself. Instead of mindlessly scrolling, decide when and how you’re going to use social media, read the news, or watch TV. And stick to it! When you feel inclined to grab your phone or open Netflix, choose to do something else. Try reaching for a book, your journal, or an adult coloring book instead.

Letting Work Take Over

Work stress inhibits happiness for many people, especially in jobs that seem to easily bleed into the rest of life. Are you working extra hours every week or constantly fretting about work when you’re off the clock? A better work-life balance could make a big difference to your happiness.

To the extent that your job allows, make your time off sacred. Plan a real vacation, commit to stopping work by a certain time each day, or make sure you’re taking at least one full day off every week. And use your time not at work to do things that increase your happiness. Make an effort to connect with friends, pursue hobbies, or spend time outside.

With the levels of stress and busyness that have become the norm for most people, making changes like these is easier said than done. But committing to them is the only way to stop sabotaging our own happiness – and that’s something that should be a priority for everyone. Have a look at this video to see how a week at Vikasa is built to reduce stress and give you tools for a better return home.

About the Author


Jennifer Ambrose

Jen is a freelance writer, blogger, and yoga teacher who left her office job in Boston to travel the world with her husband. She previously worked in international development and academic research, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. Some of her biggest passions include promoting responsible and mindful travel and helping her students develop their personal yoga practice.