START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

5 Happiness Boosters That Do More Harm Than Good

5 Happiness Boosters That Do More Harm Than Good

By Gretchen Rubin, DivineCaroline

Everyone has a few tricks for beating the blues–things you do when you’re feeling down to try to boost your mood. It turns out, however, that several of the most popular strategies don’t actually work very well in the long-term. Beware if you are tempted to try any of the following.

1. Comforting yourself with a “treat.” Often, the things we choose as “treats” aren’t good for us. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt, loss of control, and other negative consequences just deepen the lousiness of the day. So when you find yourself thinking, “I’ll feel better after I have a few beers…a pint of ice cream…a cigarette…a new pair of jeans,” ask yourself: Will it really make you feel better? It might make you feel worse.

Related: 5 Best Snacks to Boost Your Mood

2. Letting yourself off the hook. I’ve found that I sometimes get a real happiness boost from giving something up, quitting something, or breaking a bad habit. For example, I feel very happy about having given up fake food. When you’re feeling down, you might be tempted to let yourself off the hook, to think, “I’ll allow myself to skip my run today, I need a break.” In fact, sticking to a resolution will boost your sense of self-esteem and self-control. So NOT letting yourself off the hook might do more to boost your happiness.

3. Expressing your negative emotions. Many people believe in the “catharsis hypothesis” and think that expressing anger is healthy-minded and relieves their feelings. Not so. Studies show that expressing anger only aggravates it; as Plutarch observed, “Anger, while in its beginning, often can be ended by silence, or neglect.” I’ve certainly found this to be true; once I get going, I can whip myself into a fury. It’s better to stay calm.

4. Turning off your phone. Studies show that extroverts and introverts alike get a mood boost from connecting with other people. Although it can be tempting to isolate yourself when you’re feeling unhappy, you’re better off making plans with friends or family.

5. Staying in your pajamas all day. One of the most helpful things I’ve learned in my happiness research is that although we think that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act. As improbable as this sounds, it really works. Sometimes it can be fun to hang out in your sweats all day, but if you’re feeling lethargic, powerless, or directionless, not getting dressed is going to make you feel worse. Put on your clothes–including your shoes–so you feel prepared for whatever the day might offer. While you’re at it, make your bed.

Have you ever tried to cheer yourself up using a strategy that just made you feel worse in the end? What are some more effective ways to beat the blues?

Originally published on The Happiness Project

Everything You Know About Beating Stress Is Wrong
10 Simple Ways to Maximize Your Joy
All-Natural Depression Cures

Read more: Exercises, Health, Mental Wellness,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love


At, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at


+ add your own
5:29PM PDT on Mar 28, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

9:00PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

I guess I do feel better when I get dressed

11:05PM PST on Feb 1, 2014

darn i love pajamas

1:33PM PST on Jan 30, 2014


5:30AM PST on Jan 11, 2014

No more pajama days??????

9:10PM PDT on Jul 25, 2013


3:06AM PDT on Jul 9, 2013

Thank you :)

4:07AM PDT on Mar 13, 2013

Sensible advice. Thanks.

4:04AM PDT on Mar 13, 2013

Even walking in the rain is fun.......thanks!

4:33AM PST on Dec 29, 2012

I like going for a walk to improve my mood.
Of course, if the weather is lousy I need to reward myself with chocolate.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Bow chicka bow? I thought it was boom chicka boom.

I don't have a dog, but I found this very informative. Thank you.

Absolutely adorable but I still wish that everyone would get their cats and dogs spayed or neutered.…


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!