The Most Foolish Way You Destroy Your Own Happiness

By assuming, you ruin your own happiness.

Last updated on Jun 24, 2024

Woman ponders foolish ways she destroys her own happiness. tommaso79 | Canva

The other day someone posted something on social media that I'm pretty sure (well, I think) was targeted at me. I called a friend and said, "Should this offend me?" Of course, I knew the answer before it came out of my mouth — mo, I shouldn't be offended by this. If you can't even decide whether or not you're offended, then don't be. If there's nothing you can do about it, you should move on, or, if it's appropriate, stand up for yourself and then move on. But here's the thing—it's awfully easy to interpret someone else's behavior as being about you and then react (negatively) to that assumption ... but why take away your own happiness?


I see examples of this every day. People tell me they don't get along with someone at work. When I ask why, they say, "Because she isn't very friendly to me." Oh, I see. So, in other words, you've decided to make this other person's behavior all about you. And then you decided to feel upset about it. And now you don't like her in return? Really, why don't you just pinch yourself all day long, it's slightly less miserable! Can you catch yourself doing this? Can you ask the question, does this assumption make sense? If you aren't sure, then you are heading down a very unhappy path

RELATED: 28 Truths About Happiness You Must Face To Improve Your Life


Do your kids have you pulling your hair out? Parents assume that their child misbehaves to annoy them. Okay, this one may actually be true periodically, but in general, children are just kind of annoying sometimes and it really doesn't have much to do with us. If we react to their behavior as if it's a direct affront to us, we'll have a long and very painful parenting road. Set limits with your children but don't take their behavior personally. It only makes you more reactive and them more defensive (and your whole family a whole lot less happy). Catch yourself reacting to your children and step back for a second. Ask yourself if your response makes sense. If not, stop. Pick a different reaction. 

RELATED: What 95% Of People Don’t Understand About Happiness

Is your spouse out to get you? Do you view your partner's every bad mood as a direct attack on you? Are you sensitive to their every shift, certain they are deliberately trying to drive you crazy? When they want some alone time do you instantly insist that they don't care about you anymore (or love you as much as you love them)? Do you really want to live in such an unhappy space with your partner? Making their behavior all about you keeps you feeling discontent and unloved. Is that really how you want to feel?

Check your assumptions at the door. Interpreting another's behavior without first verifying whether your interpretation is correct is a recipe for unhappiness, anxiety, and insecurity.


 If you think someone is upset with you, simply ask him or her if that is so. If they say "no", move on! If you aren't sure how someone is feeling or what their true mindset is, either ask or (I would suggest) just assume the best. Choosing to interpret people's behavior negatively hurts you and is harmful to your healthy relationship with them. 

@thesheepdogprogram HOW to STOP assuming the worst in people when you’re having conversations at work, home, or with friends? THIS is KEY! 🔑 #mentalhealth #positivity #action #decisions #respect #relationships #work #coworkers ♬ original sound - The Sheepdog Program Corp

RELATED: 8 Uncomfortable Signs You're About To Be Genuinely Happy With Your Life

Start today and watch for signs of wrong assumptions on your part. Ask yourself, "Is my interpretation of their behavior correct? How could I find out for sure before I freak out or feel sad?" Here's a tip: think of three other possibilities that might explain their behavior in a way that isn't all about you (i.e. they're having a bad day, they're distracted, maybe they innocently forgot). If any of those other options seem as reasonable as your initial thought, why not assume one of those? Choose to assume the best and feel instantly happier, have healthier relationships, and enjoy your life and others so much more. 


RELATED: The Tiniest-But-Most-Obvious Thing Everyone Gets Wrong About Happiness

Lisa Kaplin is a psychologist, certified professional life and executive coach, and a highly experienced corporate speaker. She helps people overcome stress and overwhelm to find joy in their personal lives and success and meaning in their professional lives.