10 Things You Do That Make You Unhappy Without Knowing

How happy are you right now? Do you struggle to find motivation and joy in your daily life? Do you know why? What many people don’t realize is that there are many seemingly small habits that can make you unhappy. From your mindset to your behavior, everything affects how you feel. The hard part is determining what causes certain emotions and learning how to cope with them. If you learn what makes you unhappy, you can tailor your life to avoid these habits. With that in mind, here are 10 things you do that make you unhappy without knowing.  

1. Ignoring yourself 

Sounds weird, right? How can you ignore yourself when that’s who you are? However, many people do so daily. Whether it be dismissing your wants and needs, ignoring self-care, or invalidating your emotions, ignoring yourself comes in many forms. Some people aren’t in tune with who they are as a person and what they want, which can make them confused, unmotivated, and imbalanced. If this describes you, try to take some time to self-reflect upon who you are, how you’re doing, and your wants and needs. 

2. Trying to control everything around you 

Do you constantly try to control your surroundings? You may expect people to act a certain way or always expect things to go the way you planned. However, trying to control everything around you will likely end up harming you in the long run. Life is unpredictable and chaotic, and people are so complex that you cannot count on them acting a certain way. This means if you’re constantly making plans that rely on you having total control, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Instead, try to stay flexible and open-minded. That way, you can adapt to many different types of situations.  

3. Seeking validation from outside sources  

Do you compare yourself to others? Do you use metrics such as grades or work performance to validate your self-worth? While it’s hard not to, seeking validation from outside sources is likely making you unhappy. You have to realize that you’re the only one who determines your worth, not friends, family, grades, accomplishments, or any other external factors. When you internalize this, you don’t have to worry about pleasing everyone or always being perfect. You can focus on being happy and living the way you want. 

4. Spending too much time regretting and not enough time learning  

Do you have any regrets? Are you someone who always thinks about them, replaying them over and over while speculating what could’ve been? What you may need to hear, even though it sounds harsh, is that the past cannot be changed. What’s done is done, so the only thing you can do now is learn from your previous mistakes. Spending too much time regretting not only weighs you down, but it also means you are less likely to gain life experience and knowledge. Instead, what you can do is learn from your mistakes to change your present and future. 

5. Neglecting personal relationships

When was the last time you talked to your friends? It may be hard to stay connected during a pandemic, but it’s more important than ever now. People are social creatures, and even introverts can’t function without social contact. Having a social support system will likely make you more relaxed, happier, and an overall more well-balanced person. So, even if it’s only once a month or for a few hours, try to make time for your friends and family. 

6. Surrounding yourself with negativity    

Are you a glass half empty or glass half full type of person? What kind of people do you hang out with? While complaining is certainly a good way to vent from time to time, constantly doing so can make you more unhappy. When you complain, you’re giving your problems and inconveniences more power, allowing them to seep into your conversations and further ruin your day. Similarly, by surrounding yourself with negative people, they may end up bringing you down as well. If they constantly make backhanded remarks, complain to the point of it being harmful, or take advantage of you, chances are they’re not really your friends. Instead, try to surround yourself with and spread positivity. 

7. Not allowing yourself to be happy  

Sounds obvious, right? While it may sound self-explanatory, most people don’t recognize when they’re self-sabotaging. Things like lack of commitment, consistency, and blaming are self-destructive behaviors that are often overlooked. Sometimes, these behaviors have deeper roots, such as unhealed trauma, recent crisis, or burnout that cause you to subconsciously avoid happiness. You may think you don’t deserve joy or that you’re not good enough. These types of problems are generally best addressed through therapy or another means of professional support, so don’t be afraid to reach out. It doesn’t make you weak, inferior, or crazy. 

8. Overthinking  

Do you stay up at night replaying various worst-case scenarios and embarrassing interactions you’ve had? While the tendency to overthink is human, doing so too much will only make you stressed and anxious. Try to remember that at the end of the day, no one will remember that one time you misspoke or tripped in front of a crowd. And, if someone does remember, it likely won’t matter in the long run. Try to look at embarrassing situations as something to laugh about in the future. That way, you aren’t weighed down by constantly overanalyzing social interactions and can focus on what really matters: actually talking to and bonding with others! 

9. Fantasizing too much

Do you scroll through social media wishing your life was as aesthetically pleasing? Do you use phrases like, “When I grow up…” or, “In a few years…” While it may sound cheesy, there really is no better time to take action than the present. If you always fantasize about the future, you may get end up pretending more than taking action and setting plans into motion. Try not to use social media to set unrealistic expectations for yourself; instead, set realistic plans into action.  

10. Being a perfectionist   

Are you a perfectionist? Do you have to get everything just right? Being a perfectionist can be a good thing as it means you have great attention to detail and perseverance. However, when taken too far, it can end up being more of a hindrance than a benefit. You could end up obsessing over everything and burning yourself out. Also, when things aren’t perfect, you might easily lose motivation and become discouraged. The bottom line is that a balance between trying to make everything the best it can be and simply allowing things to be moderate will keep you happiest.  

The bottom line for being happy is leading a well-balanced, healthy life. You don’t need any fancy or expensive items, and you don’t need to be aesthetically pleasing. After all, the most important thing in life is being happy with the people you love.  

Do you do any of these things? If so, which ones, and how do you plan to try to stop? Feel free to leave a comment with your experience, suggestions, or feedback down below!  


  • Mineo, L. (2018, November 26). Over nearly 80 years, Harvard study has been showing how to live a healthy and happy life. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/.
  • Simon-Thomas, E. (2015, November 09). Happiness Research: What Makes You Happy? Berkeley Wellness. https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-mind/mind-body/article/what-science-happiness. 

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