I played quite differently back in 2006-2008 then I do now. I spent most of my time then making my Sims lives as miserable and bleak as possible. Now, I'm more focused on creating neighborhoods and establishing new storylines and letting my Sims have a bit of free will to lead their own lives..under my supervision though!
When I first started playing, I practically ignored their wants/fears and really only paid attention to their needs, making friends, and what they needed to do for job promotions, similar to Sims 1. Then I realized if their aspiration bar went too low they'd become depressed and do all the stuff they do when that happens.