Walk Away from Anything That Doesn’t Make You Insanely Happy

The “new you” can’t be built in the midst of the auld lang syne

Elisabeth Ovesen | NYT Bestselling Author
Published in
5 min readJan 5, 2022


Illustration: mook/RawPixel

If you're reading this, it means you've survived one hundred percent of your worst days, many of which probably happened in the last two to five years. As you're well aware, staying focused and motivated has been challenging during today's unsettling political, social, financial, and public health crises. Many of us have been hanging on by a fraying thread and feel blessed just to have made it out of 2021 alive, regardless of how much we did or didn't accomplish. To that end, barring crimes against humanity, there is no right or wrong way to live your life. We are all in a constant state of flux, taking our lives one day at a time and doing everything we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. So, no matter what I or anyone else says or suggests, choose your own path and speed. Get through your life in a way that's best for you.

But also…don't fuck this up.

Making just one bad decision can derail your life for years, decades, or forever. And, sometimes, not making a decision at all counts as a making bad one. Plus, if you're a parent, your bad decisions or indecisions are likely to derail your kids' lives as well. So, even though it may seem easier to spend your time free-balling through life and letting the chips fall where they may, this strategy tends to make life harder in the long run, especially when the shit hits the fan.

That's why, last month, we offered a shortlist of ways you could prepare for the new year. Most of you were thankful for the reminders and encouragement, while a few of you hate preparedness and organization with a passion. But, for those who managed to glide into the new year with all or most of their ducks in a row, welcome to the beginning of what promises to be another shit show, but one you can easily traverse with a bit of reparation and preparation. So, now that the new year is here, and you've started it off (fairly) clear, here are three simples suggestions for what to do next.

Illustration: mook/RawPixel

Ready. Set. Quit! Walk away from anything and anyone that doesn't make you insanely happy. And if you're from the school that teaches you're not supposed to be happy and that you have to do things that make you miserable to survive in this world, it's time to quit that school, too. Trust me; as someone who refuses to do anything or be with anyone who makes me unhappy, this is the best way to be. That said, some painful situations take a bit of time and maneuvering to unravel, like careers and marriages, but it doesn't have to take years. Happiness is a decision, and the universe appreciates speed. Once you make even one baby step in the direction of happiness, the universe will push you even further in that direction. The more steps forward you make, the more pushes you'll get. So, this month, take that step, no matter how small. No one else has to see it, but you'll know it's there, and the universe will respond in kind.

Eat the cake, Anna Mae. Indulge in those little things that have the power to improve your mood. Stop talking yourself out of what you want and settling for less. If you don't want leftovers for dinner, don't eat them. Buy or make what you really want. Would you rather skip dinner and go right to dessert? Ignore your mother's and your trainer's voices and eat the fucking cake. Listen to your internal rhetoric. It may surprise you how many little moments of joy and deep desires you talk yourself out of every day. You choose the heels when you really want to wear flats. You answer the phone when you really just want to let it ring. Stop doing that shit. Talking yourself out of the little things leads to the rejection of the big juicy joys in life. This month, start saying yes when you would usually say no, and no when you would usually say yes. Practice following your core desires this year. Listen to your gut and first mind, and watch how your joy improves.

Get lost. Sometimes, the best way to start fresh is to remove yourself from everything old. It's not always about eliminating things and people from the life you've built but removing yourself. Our lives are exoskeletons. They protect our soft bodies for years, but then, we outgrow, shed, and leave them before forming another. Well, we're supposed to anyway. If you feel you've been dragging around an old life that you've long since outgrown, maybe it's time to stop trying to change it. Perhaps it's time to change yourself instead, shed your protective skin, and have faith you'll form another. That new skin, that "new you" everyone likes to talk about every new year, can't be built in the midst of the auld lang syne. You'll have to separate and incubate. You'll have to find yourself inside yourself and not in anyone else. This month, get lost in your goals, dreams, and plans for the newest version of your life. Come away from all that stagnates you, shed your skin, and actually become a new you this new year.

For a refresher, revisit last month's shortlist of things you can do to start the new year off on a good foot, and keep reading for more words of sage advice to carry with you all year long.

  • No matter what you do this new year, make good decisions for yourself and your family. Don’t just allow life to happen to you; meet it halfway!
  • Remember that baby steps in the right direction are far better than stagnation. Go, keep going.
  • When there is no one there to clap for you, learn to love being alone and clap for your damn self.
  • Not everyone has to see or believe in your dreams; that’s why they’re yours and yours alone.
  • Be sure to repair yourself often. Take a knee, rest, but always get back up.
  • Prepare in every way you can for the very best and worst life has to offer. Never leave your life to chance or other people.
  • You may not be able to control what people do or what happens in the world, but you can control your actions and reactions. Look before you leap.
  • And watch your step. There's shit everywhere.

Happy new year!



Elisabeth Ovesen | NYT Bestselling Author
Writer for

3x New York Times bestselling author, art enthusiast, and design girlie living between Los Angeles and New York City