It may seem counter intuitive to write a happiness article about unhappiness, but understanding unhappiness can actually help us be happier. Knowledge is power, so when we see ourselves exhibiting the signs of unhappiness, it helps to know what we can do to shift in a happier direction. Knowing the underlying reasons for our unhappiness can help us heal our mind and emotions so we can experience more peace.
Without further adieu, here are the top 5 reasons why people are unhappy:
Reason #1: We don’t know HOW to be happy
No one taught us the tools for happiness. Not really. Children are naturally happy. They freely laugh, dance, sing or play as the mood strikes them. Do you remember feeling more free and imaginative as a child? You probably colored outside the lines or sang songs with nonsensical lyrics. You might have danced for the sheer joy of feeling your body move. Or if you were like me, you played in the yard until dark hours or got lost in books that sparked your wild imagination.
As we grow older, we’re taught an endless list of rules and requirements. We have to learn how to survive in the “adult” world, so we lose our innocence and along with it our natural sense for happiness. The problem is, survival skills are based in our sense of threat and fear. To survive, we resort to fight, flight, freeze instincts. Survival is self-interested and selfish. Naturally, as we fight to survive in the human jungle, we become terribly unhappy.
But we’ve forgotten how to be happy. Our childhood is an ancient memory. As we hunt for happiness we become like human pinballs bouncing between following our heart and living the way we were told to.
Reason #2: We don’t know WHAT happiness is or WHERE it comes from
Most of us aren’t sure what happiness is. Society tells us we’ll be happy if we’re attractive, popular, rich or successful. Even if we achieve these things, we’re still unfulfilled. Disappointed. Discouraged. Chasing after shadows. How can we be happy if we’re not sure what it is? The world tells us happiness is just the emotion of joy. So, we seek out things that make us feel good and run away from things that make us feel anything less. We seek pleasurable substances and entertaining people, only to be disappointed when they let us down.
We search the world far and wide for as much happiness and as little misery as possible, not realizing that happiness comes from within–not from the world.
Reason #3: Happiness is scary
How on Earth can happiness be scary?! First of all, happiness seems mysterious, and we’re hardwired to fear the unknown. Second, it’s scary to admit we don’t already know what happiness is and that we’ve been doing it wrong. Third, being happier means changing thoughts, habits, perspectives, sometimes big things like career or friends. Change can be scary.
And what if we fail? What if the idea of happiness is too good to be true? These fears can be enough to make us give up before we try, or even sabotage our own best efforts.
Reason #4: We think we have time to f*ck around
We forget life is short and time is precious, so we fart around allowing ourselves to get caught up in distraction, drama, boredom and bad behavior. We think we’ll live another day and think “It couldn’t happen to me”. Even if we do live a long life, we forget that we’ll have to look back on our life. Our later years become so full of regret that what was all that wasted time worth? We plan to be happy tomorrow, only tomorrow never comes. All we have is today.
Reason #5: We think it’s too simple
Happiness is simple. All too simple. Perhaps it’s not always easy, but simple yes. Always. But we think our problems are complex, so the answers must be complex, too. We overlook the power of kindness and gratitude. We fail to forgive others because we just don’t think it’s that important. We dismiss these and other simple answers, thinking a better solution is out there ready to solve our problems in a snap. In the meantime, we aren’t as kind or grateful as we should be. We live in a world of little white lies that steal our happiness and rob us of inner peace.
We miss happiness when we see it because we don’t realize happiness is staring us in the face. How many beautiful sunsets have we missed because we were watching TV? How many friends did we verbally trample because we were too busy talking about ourselves? How many beautiful flowers did we walk past because we’re blind to the beautiful miracles of nature?
How do we reverse the unhappiness of our lives? It helps to start by remembering that life IS short. Every moment is precious. Happiness comes from within, so if we don’t like our inner landscape, it’s time to do some work. We can start by forgetting and letting go of other people’s ideas of happiness. We must live from the heart, go after our dreams, trust the Universe, and ourselves. We must be patient as we make one mistake after another. We must be willing to change, and most of all…
Embrace the adventure!
Reality is all about our perspective. If our story is the one others wrote for us, we’ll be unhappy. But if life is an adventure, then we’re in for a ride! Today isn’t written yet, and that’s a blessing. As we write each moment of our lives, we learn. We grow. We improve. We heal. And…we have the chance to help others.
Life truly is short. It takes courage to live with integrity. It takes patience to live with kindness. It takes strength to believe that all will be well. And, it takes a lost of love to do your best and let that be enough. So, do your best. Today. Take joy in that. Live your path. Learn your lessons. Quickly if you can 😉 Be kind. Be kind, be kind, be kind. To yourself and others. In these things there is true joy.
Wishing YOU all the happiness in Life.
Photo thanks to @frankiefoto on Unsplash