Scott Galloway recently had a post make the rounds about happiness. It was a detailed look at many of the ingredients that typically go into how to be happy looked at through a mix of his own experiences and observations he's made. One of the keys to successful investing is figuring out what to avoid. Think about technology in 2000. Valuations were sky high and the sector's weighting in the S&P 500 at that time was 30% which has some history as being unsustainable. Even if you didn't sell completely there were clues to at least be underweight, those clues have repeated today, tech is around 26% of the S&P 500 and clients are underweight the sector.
I think there are similarities in trying to figure out what we individually need to be happy. Avoiding certain circumstances or thought patterns can take away things that add stress or make us angry or otherwise create negative feelings. Removing stressors can mean being pissed off less frequently which may not solve every issue someone has but it won't make it worse. A while back my wife found a funny yogi/meditation audio on Facebook and the tag line was "let that shit go." She thought it was so funny and spot on that she bought the t-shirt;
Being able to let go of negativity is not easy, it takes some amount of training, self discipline, introspection and so on. Conceding that this is not easy a great place to start is not comparing ourselves to other people. All you know is what you see which is not the whole story. Your friend/coworker/social media acquaintance with the mansion driving the <fill in whatever vehicle you love, for me it would be a Defender 90> could be swimming in debt with nothing accumulated, just scraping by every month. There is an expression in yoga that says to stay on your own mat which means don't worry about how other people do the positions, do what you can and focus on your breathing. So it is in life, where comparing to others has a live below your means element to it, not having financial stresses of drowning in debt and not just scraping by every month removes a lot of negativity in terms of just worrying and maybe one less thing to fight about with your partner. A middle aged couple living a $4000/mo lifestyle with $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000 accumulated meets no real definition of rich but they are very antifragile.
Maybe a little more difficult than avoiding comparisons is not caring what people think about you other than your spouse, kids and other very important people in your life. Someone thinks you're an idiot on Facebook? So what. My life arc has included going from high school sports, to a fraternity house, to a trading floor (several different ones actually) to a fire department. That's a lot of dudes, many of whom did/do not like for whatever reason. As a fire chief for more than six years, not every firefighter will like their chief, it goes with the territory. No matter the circumstance, there will be people who don't like you and might say unpleasant things about you, just as you might not like some of the people you associate with in your various circles. If someone thinks you're an asshole, ok, let it go. It is important to comprehend the difference between a constructive observation from someone you don't get along with and they're just thinking you're an asshole. You can still learn something from someone you don't like or who doesn't like you but getting down because someone says of you "fuck that guy," I promise you will be so much better off when you can learn to let that go.
One final thing I will touch on as something to remove that is more difficult than the others is getting rid of your daily commute if you have one. I was lucky enough to eliminate my commute in my mid-30's. No matter the age, the time you get back and the reduction in stress from avoiding twice daily traffic jams can be life altering or at least life enhancing.
I think most articles on this topic focus on what to do and that side of the equation is of course important but avoiding certain things can be equally important.