Sit down someplace quiet, search your heart, and ask yourself, “Am I happy?” What’s your honest answer?
Asking ourselves such a thought-provoking question connects us with a more profound part of ourselves. The pursuit of happiness is a life-long endeavor, and everyone struggles to feel happy at certain points in their lives. We yearn for success, power, love, and friendship because we believe these things will bring us emotional fulfillment. We dedicate our whole lives to searching for happiness and finding ways to make those fleeting moments of joy last forever.
But try as we might to be happy sometimes, it’s not just something we can force ourselves to feel when we don’t. Oftentimes, we must first overcome our feelings of insecurity, loneliness, guilt, regret, and shame before we can truly allow ourselves to be happy. With that said, here are 8 of the most likely reasons why you may be feeling so unhappy all the time:
1. You worry about everything.
Worrying too much can cause us a great deal of emotional distress, especially when we worry about things that are completely out of our control. We worry about what other people think of us, how we come across to them, what’s going to happen today, what might go wrong, and so on. But worrying about something that hasn’t even happened yet – that might not even happen at all – only breeds feelings of anxiety, dread, panic, and tension. Putting yourself in these imaginary negative situations time and time again drains so much of your energy, wastes so much of your time, and causes you so much misery for no good reason (Freeman & Garety, 2014).
2. You hold on to your grudges.
Do you struggle to forgive and forget, even with the people you love? Do you find it hard to move on from the pain other people cause you, even if it wasn’t intentional? It’s okay to feel frustrated and upset sometimes, especially if your trust was betrayed by someone close to you, but it’s never good to dwell too much on your anger. Holding a grudge hurts you so much more than it hurts them. And letting that resentment linger and grow in your heart is only going to make you more bitter, vindictive, and unhappy as time goes on (Everson-Rose, et al., 2008). Instead of letting it go and trying to move on, you are choosing to fixate on a negative past experience and refusing to heal from it.
3. You compare yourself to others.
Does going on social media make you feel bad about yourself and the kind of life you lead? Do you feel down every time you are reminded of someone else’s attractiveness, wealth, popularity, intelligence, or success? So much of our own insecurities and feelings of inferiority come from comparing ourselves to the people around us. We’re so obsessed with competing with everyone and trying to measure up to them all the time that it hurts our pride and our sense of self-worth each time we fail. Studies have even shown that constant social comparisons can lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic loneliness (Swallow & Kuiper, 2018).
4. You’ve forgotten how to be grateful.
Amazing things happen all around you every day, but when was the last time you stopped and looked around? Whether it’s getting a good night of sleep, eating delicious food, or spending time with the people we love, there are so many simple pleasures in life that we take for granted. The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless and learning to have a little more appreciation for everything you have can be life-changing (Alspach, 2009). But if you just continue to be ungrateful and complain about everything you don’t have, then that kind of negative attitude is only going to fuel your unhappiness even more.
5. You have a pessimistic way of thinking.
Another way we create our own unhappiness is with our thoughts and our beliefs. After all, it’s hard to be happy when you’re always bringing yourself down with your pessimistic way of thinking. Do you have a bad habit of always looking at the downside to everything? Do you miss the silver lining in all your grey clouds? Do you often criticize yourself and downplay your own achievements? By choosing to focus more on what makes you unhappy instead of what makes you happy, you are amplifying your own negative emotions (Teasdale & Segal, 2007).
6. You’re surrounded by negative people.
Studies show that negativity is contagious (Rozin & Royzman, 2001). So if you’re surrounded by negative people all the time, it won’t take long before you, too, become just as sullen and joyless as them. No matter how hard you try to cheer yourself up and stay positive, you can never truly overcome your own self-defeating behaviors until you learn to let go of the people weighing you down with all their negativity. Maybe they’re rude and jealous of other people, or perhaps whiny and discontent with everything. Whatever kind of bad attitudes they have, the more time you spend with them, the more you risk falling into the very same psychological traps and problematic behaviors.
7. You’ve given up control of your life.
Is there someone in your life you’ve been blaming for all the unhappiness you feel? Is it your parents, for getting divorced or abandoning you? Is it an abusive friend or romantic partner? An ex-love who broke your heart? When you blame other people for your own problems, you are denying your own agency and giving up control of your life. You feel helpless to change your ways or turn your life around for the better because of all the bad things that have happened to you. But what if all the people you blame feel absolutely no guilt about all the emotional damage they’ve caused you? Are you just going to spend the rest of your life blaming them and hating them in vain? Your healing can’t depend on someone else’s decision to heal, too.
8. You gravitate towards those who are bad for you.
Most people believe that we are powerless over who we choose to love, but the people you tend to gravitate towards can tell you a lot about yourself. Do you often fall in love with people who are bad for you? Do you find yourself surrounded by so-called “friends” who are rude or inconsiderate towards you? This is a common occurrence for people who struggle with self-loathing or are afraid of intimacy. After all, we accept the love we think we deserve. You can read more about it in “7 Signs You’re Afraid of Intimacy“, “7 Signs You Hate Yourself“, and “7 Signs You Have Abandonment Issues.”
So, do you relate to any of the reasons mentioned here? Have you been struggling with a lot of negative feelings lately? If you suspect that there might be a more serious underlying issue to these feelings, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental healthcare professional today and get the help you need to live a happier, better quality life.
- Freeman, D., & Garety, P. A. (2014). Worry, worry processes and dimensions of delusions: an exploratory investigation of a role for anxiety processes in the maintenance of delusional distress. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 27(1), 47-62.
- Everson‐Rose, S. A., Toussaint, L. L., Williams, D. R., & Musick, M. A. (2008). Why forgiveness may protect against depression: Hopelessness as an explanatory mechanism. Personality and Mental Health, 2(2), 89-103.
- Swallow, S. R., & Kuiper, N. A. (2018). Social comparison and negative self-evaluations: An application to depression. Clinical Psychology Review, 8(1), 55-76.
- Alspach, G. (2009). Extending the tradition of giving thanks recognizing the health benefits of gratitude.
- Teasdale, J. D., & Segal, Z. V. (2007). The mindful way through depression: Freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness. Guilford Press.
- Rozin, P., & Royzman, E. B. (2001). Negativity bias, negativity dominance, and contagion. Personality and social psychology review, 5(4), 296-320.