Hey Psych2goers! Before we start, we want to remind you to take some time out to do something nice for yourself today: grab a snack, take a nap, listen to some music, anything that makes you happy.
Speaking of which, have you ever wondered what you can do to be generally happier? I know I have. Happiness is so personal, and it’s going to look different for everyone, but there are some things you might do that make you unhappier. Recognizing these behaviors in yourself and working to correct them will help prevent you from being less happy than you want to be. Here are 8 habits chronically unhappy people have.
1. Dwelling in sadness
It’s fair to say that most of us have had some bad days and negative experiences. But when these things happen to you, do you find yourself working to move on or dwelling in your sadness for a little longer than you should?
We’re not saying that bad experiences should just roll off your shoulder. In fact, reflecting for a healthy period of time is great and can actually make you happier! And please also note that this does not apply to trauma, or something that may require a long time to move past.
But, in your everyday life, when you’ve moved through reflection and can’t bring yourself to let go and move on from something minor, you end up holding on to anger and sadness more than you need to (Sack 2014). If you can relate, try processing your feelings in a more outward way, like writing them down in a journal, so you give yourself permission to release those debilitating feelings in your head.
Have you ever had an experience and sat in bed afterward thinking about it over and over again? Maybe replaying it in your head a few too many times, trying to gain a new insight or feel a different way? Overthinking happens to the best of us, but in chronically unhappy people, this sort of pattern can easily become a habit.
When we negatively overthink, we run the risk of distorting a situation in a way that sends unnecessary alarms through our body and mind. Going back and overanalyzing past situations can leave us with a sinking feeling that can just make us unhappier.
According to an article by Psychiatrist David Sack, M.D. from Psychology Today, people who are unhappy also tend to view global issues as their responsibility, when all of it cannot fall on their shoulders (Sack 2014). Of course, having a passion for global issues and wanting to help change them is great! However, when someone shoulders too much of what they cannot single-handedly control, they may emerge from all of this thinking prohibiting themselves from feeling happy with their own lives (Sack 2014).
3. Thinking negatively
When things are going well, do you relax, or does it make you feel oddly on edge? When you succeed, do you let yourself enjoy it?
Similar to overthinking, those who are chronically unhappy tend to approach situations and life in general with a negative point of view. Sack also mentions that they may often feel dissatisfied with what they have, and even fear the feeling of happiness (Sack 2014). While this dissatisfaction and negative outlook may not be a conscious choice, recognizing it in yourself can help save you from so much unhappiness in the future.
If you can relate to this, it’s okay! In a world filled with so much uncertainty, it’s natural to want to stay on your toes. But it isn’t healthy, and too much pessimism can get in the way of your happiness. If you want to shift away from this thinking pattern, you might try practicing mindfulness and gratitude in any way you’re comfortable. Meditation, gratitude journals, and scrap booking are some great places to start!
4. Isolating themselves
Do you find yourself staying inside longer than you need to? Are you often one to cancel plans or remove yourself from social situations? We know that especially during the current time of social distancing, it can be difficult to break this habit if this sounds like you. But in normal situations, chronically unhappy people tend to give in to the temptation of avoiding others, according to Dr. Travis Bradberry from HuffPost (Bradberry 2016).
Oftentimes when we aren’t happy, hanging out with people doesn’t sound too appealing. But did you know that taking the extra step to socialize when you are sad can make you feel better? Turns out, talking to people in itself can boost your mood, so resist that urge to cancel plans and stay on the couch when you feel down (Bradberry 2016).
5. Bottling up emotions
When you get upset, do you keep your feelings in? If so, do they mess with your mood? Bottling up emotions, especially over a long period of time, is a habit of chronically unhappy people, because by keeping it in, they don’t give themselves a chance to heal from what they’re feeling.
We understand that expressing your emotions all the time can feel scary or uncomfortable. But there are other ways to get them out of your system, such as writing them down or talking to a loved one, just so you can take the heaviness of those emotions off of your shoulders.
6. Getting insufficient sleep
Let’s talk about sleep. Do you wake up tired in the morning? Do you sleep at a different time each night? While none of this is uncommon, it can actually be a major factor in your happiness.
A 2018 study from South Korea explains that poor sleep quality by itself is enough to negatively impact your life satisfaction and well-being (Shin & Kim 2018). Sleep quality can encompass a lot, but it mostly refers to how well you sleep through the night. But don’t worry, there are ways to improve it. For example, going to bed at the same time every night, waking up fairly early, and making sure you get your eight hours as often as possible are great ways to work towards better sleep quality!
7. Comparing themselves to others
This is a hard one, because comparisons are so easy to make in our daily lives. Whenever you get a test back, start a job, or go on social media, it’s only natural to want to look around and see how you measure up.
But it’s important to remember that when we compare ourselves to others, we accidentally diminish our own success. What’s important to feeling happy and satisfied is performing to your best, not better than everyone around you. We all have different likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. So to determine your success based on someone else is not only inaccurate, but just gives you a lot for room for unnecessarily criticizing yourself.
8. Overworking themselves
Have you ever spent days at a time working at your desk? Does it happen to you often? Not giving yourself time to rest, relax, and take a break can actually contribute to chronic unhappiness.
According to an article from Passport Health, studies around the world cite overworking as a common precursor to depression, anxiety, and unhealthy habits, such as poor food choices (Meikle). But that’s not all. People who overwork themselves are prone to more stress, and burnout, both of which can have detrimental effects on your mood (Meikle).
We hope you enjoyed learning about some of the habits that chronically unhappy people have. Could you relate? Did we miss anything? Let us know. Thanks for reading!
- Bradberry, T (2016, March 12). “10 Troubling Habits of Chronically Unhappy People”. HuffPost.
- Meikle, K (n.d). “How Does Overworking Affect Physical and Mental Health?”. Passport Health.
- Sack, D (2014, March 5). “Are You Addicted to Unhappiness?” Psychology Today. Where Science Meets the Steps.
- Shin, J. E., & Kim, J. K. (2018). How a Good Sleep Predicts Life Satisfaction: The Role of Zero-Sum Beliefs About Happiness. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1589. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01589.