Unhappiness comes in many shades of gray. Sometimes people just lack joy. Is their emotional darkness their own choice? Or, are life circumstances beyond their control? While depression, and other psychological diseases, are certainly a clinical illness and should not be minimized, there are also factors that contribute to feeling down that you can influence. Here are 50 reasons you may be unhappy, and suggestions on how to open the mental blinds to let the sunshine back in.
1. You worry.
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.” – Mark Twain
Worry creates inner turmoil. It’s like a rocking chair moving feverishly, but going nowhere. Worrying doesn’t create action, it freezes you so you are unable to think clearly and make changes to ensure the negative outcome never happens. Your energy would be better utilized in changing things that you can control, and letting the rest go. Bobby McFerrin sang it simply enough, “Don’t worry! Be Happy!” The lack of worry can certainly create happiness!
2. You hold onto the perceived idea of control.
“As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.” – Emmanuel Teney
At times, people seem to believe that they stepped straight out of a superhero comic book. They believe that they can control everything very well and things will just turn out exactly what they planned. What a burden to carry! You would certainly need superman’s strength to pick up that weight. However, the reality is that we don’t have the ability to control anything else other than ourselves. Once you make peace with this, you find the pressure is off and you can start to enjoy the scenery of the journey, instead of plotting the impossibility.
3.You hold grudges.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”– Mark Twain
Holding a grudge has about the same logic as drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. You are harming yourself by carrying all of that negative energy. Let the bitterness go… for your own benefit. The person who criticized you is probably having a great time without giving you a second thought, while you waste your life sending them death rays with your mind.
4. You believe everyone should play by your rules.
“If you expect the world to be fair with you because you are fair, you’re fooling yourself. That’s like expecting the lion not to eat you because you didn’t eat him.”
News flash: the world doesn’t live by your rule book. The sooner you accept this, the happier you will be. No one else got your memo about the way things should be done, how they should treat you, or how to live their lives by your standards and beliefs. People often get angry because someone violates their deeply-held ideals. Yet, trying to do an impossible task – getting everyone to live by your idea of perfection – is bound to create a lot of frustration. Simply take people as they are and appreciate the colorful spectrum of ideas and viewpoints, instead of feeling exasperated by them.
5.You compare yourself to others.
“Saying someone is ugly doesn’t make you any prettier.”
Most people play the internal comparison game. Usually, they scrutinize only one small area of that person’s life and see where the match up. For example, I may compare myself to Ironman Champion and Olympian Matt Fitzgerald and determine he’s a better triathlete than me. (We aren’t even in the same stratosphere by the way.) However, this is only one small area of life. Who knows? Maybe I can ride horses or sing better than him? Looking at only a small fraction of a whole person and ranking that part against yourself is a pointless activity. You are so much more than this one piece of your life that you have under the microscope at the moment. This habit will only create discontent in your life. If you simply can’t stop measuring things, take an inward comparison dive instead. Are you a better person than you were yesterday?
6. You chose to be happy only when all of your dreams come true.
“Happiness is not determined by what’s happening around you, but rather what’s happening inside you. Most people depend on others to gain happiness, but the truth is, it always comes from within.”
Who is the happier person, the one who decides, “I will be happy when I make 100 million dollars,” or the one who believes, “I will be happy with a great supper and time with my family?” Having lofty goals are great. But when you tie your happiness to future successes that may or may not happen, you never find joy in the life you live today. Find things that thrill you today, and let tomorrow surprise you.
7. You are a glass-half-empty person.
“You become what you focus on and like the people you spend time with.”
If you’re a pessimistic person, you will notice all of the bad in your life. Your perception becomes your reality. Instead, choose to focus on the best in people, the brighter moments, and the beauty and blessings surrounding you. The more you focus on the sunshine, the less the shadows will invade your perspective.
8. You are lonely.
The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”â€• Mother Teresa
We are naturally social creatures and nurturing relationships makes up a large part of life. If you find yourself alone and depressed on a Saturday night, make an effort to change it. Finding friendships will certainly improve your enthusiasm for what each day brings. How do you find good friends? Seek out social settings with people who share similar interests and beliefs to build a common foundation and launch a great relationship. Smile, reach out, and be genuinely interested in others. You will be surprised how far this will get you in building life-long connections.
9. You seek materialism over everything else in life.
“Many people are so poor because the only thing they have is money.”
While money certainly is a great gain in this life, it doesn’t bring happiness. Think about how you would feel if tomorrow was your last day to breathe. Would you really want to make more money, or would your focus turn to connecting with people or having certain experiences? If you live by your values, you will find more fulfillment than materialism could ever bring.
10. You don’t make time for the right things.
“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.”
We all lose our focus at times. However, keeping your activities aligned with your values is helpful in keeping a positive perspective. One good exercise is to list your values and rank them by their importance to you. Then, see how many of your daily activities actually align with your values. Is there a disconnect? If so, what can you do to change it?
11. You hang out with unhappy people.
“When you have to start compromising yourself and your morals for the people around you, it’s probably time to change the people around you.”
You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time around. If your friends are constant sources of negativity in your life, it may be time to find more positive people.
12. You haven’t discovered your purpose.
“Trying to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”
So many people have subscribed to the lie that their life purpose is to make it to the weekend. No wonder there are so many miserable clock punchers in the world! Instead of existing, find a way to start living! Find your passion and purpose and pursue them, despite the fact that it may turn the mundane inside out and terrify you. Discovering your part in the story is one of the best pieces in life’s adventure!
13. You are more of an actor than an author.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest achievement.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You do the world a huge disservice when you try to be someone you’re not. Be authentic. Playing a part you weren’t meant to play to meet outside expectations is just asking for heartache. Even when you try to push down the pit in your stomach, a part of you will always know you are emotionally compromising yourself and your happiness to read lines that you didn’t write, and worse, don’t believe in.
14. You’re stuck in your past.
“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.”
Many people become the product of their pasts. They are the causalities of regret, sorrow, what ifs, and hindsight vision. While we can all learn from our past, staying there is not practical to living in the present. The past can’t be changed or relived. To constantly dwell on it does not create an emotionally healthy outlook.
15. You keep thinking about your future and can’t enjoy today.
“What you do today determines who you will be tomorrow.”
Some people focus so much on the stars that they miss the entire journey’s sights, experiences, and lessons learned in getting there. Find as much joy in the adventure as in obtaining the end goal. If you don’t, you will be frustrated until your future vision is reality. Since this may or may not happen, why limit yourself when you can find just as much happiness in the quest as in the destination?
16. You’re unhealthy.
“The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years.” – Deepak Chopra
How you value fitness, healthy eating, stress reduction, and sleeping all impact how much happiness you feel. Emotions are linked to many physical properties in your body. The mind – body connection is very real, and often just adding exercise, sunshine, extra shut-eye, or a healthier diet can improve your mood immediately.
17. You’re a perfectionist.
“In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism.” – Hannah Arendt
There are three main types of perfectionism: self perfectionism – where you expect perfection from yourself; social perfectionism – where you believe others expect you to be perfect; and other perfectionism – where you expect others to be perfect. All three examples can be happiness busters. Being perfect is an unrealistic goal for you to place on yourself or others. Constantly falling short of the unattainable will continuously keep you blue.
18. You’re afraid of failure.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
Some people are so afraid of making a mistake that they never try. Just imagine how that would have worked out when you were learning to walk! You’d probably still be crawling. Unfortunately, we sometimes lose our bravery as adults and fear trying anything because it may not work. If you embrace this mindset, you will never live up to your potential. This can create a huge dissatisfaction in your life.
19. You’re insecure.
“The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” Erich Fromm
Growth happens outside of our comfort zones. If you are too insecure to move out from the familiar, you will never know the joy of conquering your fears and finding your wings. After all, a bird has to eventually jump to discover he can fly. You can’t stay in the nest forever and be happy watching others soar.
20. You’re in debt.
“A man in debt is so far a slave.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Too much debt can cause stress, broken relationships, and financial hardships. Working out a plan to get out from under pain of payments can often bring peace of mind.
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