5 Simple Things I Removed from My Life to Become Happier

Happiness comes from subtraction, not addition.

Anthony J. Yeung
Mind Cafe
Published in
9 min readOct 24, 2020

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Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

When I was a kid, I was miserable, hated life, and didn’t think things could improve: I had a traumatic childhood and was teased by other kids for being so “angry.” I knew I couldn’t go the rest of my days with so much negativity, tension, and pain, so I committed to change. And after a decade of studying hundreds of books, journaling thousands of pages, and testing countless strategies, I was able to reinvent my life to be happier than I’ve ever been.

Yet after pouring over all that information, here’s the single biggest lesson I’ve learned during that journey: Happiness is more about subtraction than addition.

Sure, it’s easy to think that a few life hacks, breathing exercises, and affirmations are going to transform everything and make you content. But it’s far easier to be happy in life when you’re not actively engaged in making yourself unhappy. So rather than adding more things to your life, it’s far more effective and practical to eliminate what hurts our happiness in the first place.

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” — Bruce Lee

While there are plenty of things that can affect your happiness, here are the 5 simple things I removed that made the biggest impact:

1. Remove Negative Information

Many people get accustomed to negativity, stress, and frustration whether it’s from their social circle or what they see. Here are two changes that removed my biggest offenders:

I stopped watching and reading the news.

I do make exceptions for major events of serious impact, but I generally avoid all news. First, it’s a massive stressor. From a study by the American Psychological Association:

“More than half of Americans say the news causes them stress, and many report feeling anxiety, fatigue or sleep loss as a result, the survey shows. Yet one in 10 adults checks the news every hour, and fully 20% of Americans report “constantly” monitoring their social media feeds — which…

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Anthony J. Yeung
Mind Cafe

Featured in Esquire & GQ. Founder. Full-time traveler. Ready to upgrade your life? Get my 5 life hacks to boost your results here → https://bit.ly/2IDx15y